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Car and Driver: 718 and Life: Porsche Boxster and Cayman Get New Names

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2015 Porsche Boxster GTS

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Porsche was alphanumeric when alphanumeric was merely a Teutonic quirk, rather than an industrywide plague that’s seen the demise of naming creativity across the luxury segment. The German sport-car company has churned out famous automobiles with numbers and/or letters from its very inception, including the 356, 550A, and 928 S4. Then, just as Acura was abandoning the beloved Legend nameplate to swim in a confusing morass of things that end in “X”, Zuffenhausen introduced the Boxster. They promptly followed it up with the Cayenne, Cayman, Panamera, and Macan, leaving only the 911 to soldier on with legacy digits. That’s about to change, as the Boxster and Cayman are about to swap places in Porsche’s pricing hierarchy and gain a three-digit code in front of their names: 718.

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Of course, “718” isn’t exactly a number new to Porsche. An evolution of the giant-slaying 550, the 718 spawned numerous variants, including the RSK, the eight-cylinder W-RS, and even a open-wheeled variants for Formula 1 and 2 racing. One might note that all of the 718’s mutations were racing vehicles, while the Boxster/Cayman siblings have been decidedly slanted toward road duty for the majority of their lives, with the Rennsport-ready GT4 Clubsport only announced late this year.

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Porsche also confirms the rumor that the 10Best-winning Boxster and Cayman are set to switch places in the lineup with the re-named 718 Boxster now requiring the laydown of a prettier penny than the 718 Cayman. Which is probably how it should have been all along. Just to add a little more silliness to the proceedings, the 718’s platform is named 981. Of course, the 911’s platform began life as the 901, but that was actually supposed to be the car’s name until Peugeot so Gallically intervened, claiming that they had a lock on road-car three-digit numbers with a 0 in the middle.

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2015 Porsche Cayman GTS

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Porsche is pegging the name change to its introduction of turbocharged four-cylinder engines to the mid-engined line. We haven’t seen a four-pot roadgoing Porsche with the firewall right behind the front seats since the 914 of the early 1970s. Incidentally, that car was only known as the 914 internally when equipped with the six-cylinder engine. Despite carrying a 914 badge, the four-cylinder cars were Volkswagen Type 47s. What we’re getting at by pointing all of this out is that purists shouldn’t get their unders in too much of a wad, as Porsche’s public digits haven’t matched their private ones in so long that to get bent about it just seems a little churlish.

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We imagine that in the future, any potential Cayman GT4 variant will simply be known as the 718 GT4, while a future Boxster Spyder will go by 718 Spyder, reserving the Boxster and Cayman designations for more pedestrian models. In any event, it’s a brave new old world for Porsche. Welcome back, 718. You’re kind of fresh. Please make good noises.

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