We could be on the verge of a big expansion at everyone's favorite rear-engined German sports car manufacturer. Porsche is allegedly preparing a four-car assault that will be led by a proper challenger to the Ferrari 458 Italia (sorry 911).

Code-named "988," the new model will reportedly feature a mid-engined layout and, get this: a flat-8. Autocar, which has the story, expects that engine to displace about 4.0 liters, while the car itself will draw styling inspiration from the 918 Spyder. 600 ponies and over 400 super-accessible pound-feet of torque should be on tap with the new mill.

Joining the 988's supposed eight-cylinder is a new family of four- and six-cylinder boxer engines that Autocar claims will have a focus on power density and fuel economy. These new mills will be available in naturally aspirated, turbocharged and hybrid forms.

Underpinning all of this is a new, highly modular architecture that will soon be found across the Porsche range, in both mid-engine and rear-engine vehicles. As it will be used for so many different applications – Autocar claims it will be found in cars ranging from 280 to 600 hp – things like the front suspension, steering assembly and the setup of an all-wheel-drive system (both mechanical and electronic systems should be available) will vary wildly across the Porsche family.

Autocar is expecting the 988 at some point in 2017. The next-generation Boxster and Cayman, which will sport turbocharged, four-cylinder boxer engines with around 280 horsepower on base models and 350 hp on the S trim, will follow the 988. We should expect the new Boxster and Cayman, as well as the next 911, before 2019, which is when the report expects Porsche to have shifted entirely to its new architecture.

Now, we'd stress that this should all be taken with the usual grains of salt. We still have a number of questions we'd like answered about these plans. How will Porsche build a car that so closely competes with the Lamborghini Huracán? Considering the close nature of platform and engine sharing, how did Porsche get the funds for an entirely new range of boxer engines, and what other products in the VW portfolio could they be used in to spread the cost around? This all sounds great, but it's going to take a lot more before we're sold.

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