Midship power comes into vogue again in the house of Porsche

We’ve pointed out here earlier that 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of what’s usually been a hugely underrated and underappreciated car, the Volkswagen-based Porsche 914. It had decidedly plebian origins, and its angular, appliance-like styling didn’t appeal to everybody, but the 914 was a genuinely transformative sports car and gave Porsche something of a new identity. Before the 914 was introduced, the only way you could experience a true mid-engine Porsche was to shriek down the Mulsanne straight at 240 MPH in a 917 prototype.

That’s why it’s so pleasing to know that midships-mounted power is still percolating very nicely at the storied Stuttgart manufacturer, following a hiatus that stretched for some 20 years. The blazing yellow car on the right is the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 coupe, which has received a significant horsepower boost for 2019. Its layout, with the engine ahead of the rear transaxle, dates to 1996 when its forebear, the Boxster roadster, was first introduced. Its engine positioning was chosen to differentiate the Boxster from the eternal, sainted 911. The Cayman followed as a coupe variant of the same engine-transaxle orientation, and like the Boxster, it’s been a major success in the marketplace. There’s now enough room behind the transaxle to allow the placement of a diffuser at the rear of the car, which would look very much at home at Le Mans. While the Boxster was traditionally a four-cylinder car, the Cayman GT now makes full use of a 4.0-liter flat six that produces 420hp, and allows shutdown of half its cylinders during steady-state cruising for improved fuel economy.

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