The head of the Volkswagen Group, Martin Winterkorn, spoke with Autocar about the possibility of a new entry level Porsche model. Perhaps fancifully dubbed the 356, the new model would slot into Porsche's lineup below the Boxster and Cayman. In England, the new baby Porsche would cost about £33,000, which means nothing to us here in the U.S. and is about what a base Boxster costs. That said, the article mentions the possibility that the next generation Boxster and Cayman might go way up scale.
Big question: what would this new 356 be? Autocar speculates that the 356 will be based heavily on the mid-engine architecture of the upcoming Audi R4 and the conceptual Volkswagen Bluesport. We don't know if the 356 will be strictly a coupe or also be available as a roadster. In fact, we don't even know if the R4 will be coupe-only. We'd image the two cars will have similar, if not identical, body configurations. Though not the engine. In order to keep some brand DNA in the Porsche, the 356 will ship with a new forced-induction flat-four.
Those that remember the 944 Turbo S and the 968 know this is in no way a bad thing – except the 924 Turbo's engine was the EA831 inline-four originally intended for the Volkswagen Bus and Audi 100. It was never really any good, even in turbo form. The reborn 356's mill (most likely a turbo as opposed to supercharged) should be good for around 250 horsepower – very close to where the base Boxster/Cayman currently sits. Expect the 356 to get much better fuel economy, however.
The new 356 will share a transmission with the R4. Again, the 924, 944 and 968 shipped with a modified Audi 100 transmission acting as a transaxle, so there is precedence. As to what that transmission will be, we don't know but we'd guess a DSG of some sort. Audi's R4 should arrive sometime in 2011, with the Porsche 356 bowing in 2012. Is any of this going to actually, you know, happen? Magic 8-Ball says, "Ask again later."