Porsche’s vice-president of 911 and 718 model lines, Frank-Steffen Walliser, has explained how the Chinese market has kept the 718 model line alive, and why the sub-911 sports car will have to undergo significant changes to see another generation.
Explaining the success of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder 718 models, Mr Walliser told Australian journalists it had “opened up the Chinese market” for the brand.
“We lost volume in traditional markets,” he conceded of the move away from flat-six engines, “but we are number one in the segment in China. Strategy-wise, it justified producing the car, we can continue its story now.
“The target audience is way younger, 30 years old, Chinese, female. Once they are with Porsche, they continue with that."
But fans in western markets haven’t been forgotten.
“With GTS and GT4 in our more traditional markets, the interest in 718 really comes back,” Mr Walliser said.
With tight emissions regulations bearing down before 2026, though, even this Chinese-market success won’t make the 718 impervious.
Mr Walliser explained that the coming Euro7 emissions shake-up could see a return to larger-displacement engines, as an increase in size of catalytic converters pushes power-per-litre down. So, could it mean a return to the flat-six for the 718?
“The next generation of 718 will be on market in 2026,” he said. “So we have to consider it... Six cylinders... or something way more different… Electric is one of those options.”
An electric 718 would make sense in the context of the 718’s success in China, as the Chinese Government continues to pursue aggressive electrification “new energy” policy targets for vehicles sold to its domestic market.
Mr Walliser pulled no punches about the possibility that the upcoming Euro7 regulations could spell the end for some of the brand’s iconic engines.
“In the next 10 years, we will have to say, ‘This is the last engine of its kind’. We will see more engine concepts die," he said.
“The boxer engine is a different story. We will have to wait and see what direction we are going.”
The brand has just unveiled its 992-series 911 Targa 4 and Targa 4S variants, as it gradually fleshes out the latest generation of its flagship 911's model line.
Given the brand has invested so much in keeping Targa alive, CarsGuide asked if we could possibly ever see the name on another Porsche model line.
“718, yes. Targa would work,” Mr Walliser said. “SUV… that could be a little bit too much of a stretch for the nameplate. The content, the nameplate should fit together… Don’t blame me for Taycan Turbo [laughs].”