The Next-Gen Porsche 718 Cayman Might be All-Electric - Could This Lead to an Electric Toyota MR2 Spinoff?
A Porsche-Toyota partnership is looking more feasible than everby Robert Moore, on LISTEN 08:40
Thanks to a recent report, we’ve learned that Porsche is considering making the next-gen 718 Cayman an all-electric sports car. In fact, it’s currently the “favored option within the company,” even though a final decision has yet to be made. The heavy brass at Porsche will make that decision within the next 12 months, so the 718 could end up being Porsche’s second all-electric car. This got me to thinking about the news last month that Tetsuya Tada, the Chief Engineer of the Toyota Supra, was very adamant about working with Porsche for its next sports car – the one that would serve as the final piece to the puzzle that is the three brothers, and the car that could revive the MR2 moniker.
Oddly enough, this falls right in line with one of my predictions for potential partnership between Toyota and Porsche. Well, sort of.
An All-Electric Porsche 718 Cayman?
Without disclosing too many details to Auto Express, Lutz Meschke – the Deputy Chairman of Porsche – said, “In the sports car segment we have to think about a pure electric car. An [electric] 911 will be too difficult. But for the 718 I think that it would be a very good step for the future and it would be on a completely new platform that we can discuss and share with other brands.”
We already figured that Porsche wouldn’t move the 911 into EV territory anytime soon – at least not until it’s absolutely required to do so. But, did you catch what Meschke said in that last sentence?
But for the 718 I think that it would be a very good step for the future, and it would be on a completely new platform that we can discuss and share with other brands.
So, now we have Toyota wanting to work with Porsche, Porsche considering taking the 718 all-electric in the next few years, and an all-new platform designed by Porsche that can be shared with other brands. The writing is on the wall ladies and gentleman. Before I get ahead of myself, though, let me revive and …eh… edit some thoughts from my original predictions.
Porsche and Toyota Working Together Seems More Feasible Than Ever
Now, I caught a little bit of heat for even suggesting that it was possible for Toyota and Porsche to build a car together, but it’s far from implausible as far as Toyota is concerned. It did it with the Toyota Supra and the Toyota 86 (see the BMW Z4 and Subaru BRZ, respectively). My problem when I wrote that last article is that Porsche didn’t need something that sat between the 718 Cayman and the 911, and a mid-engined car in the middle would make even less sense as, after all, the MR2 practically needs to be mid-engined or “mid-motored” to remain at least somewhat true to its heritage. And, since Toyota didn’t want to go smaller than the 86 or larger than the Supra, that third brother has to find a place in the middle – an EV is really the only option here.
That raised a lot of doubt in a potential partnership, though, as Porsche wasn’t going to spend the money to design a platform that would, without a doubt, cannibalize one or even two of its models, and it damn sure won’t do anything to hurt the Porsche 911. The 911 is its bread and butter, after all.
But, if Porsche takes the 718 into all-electric territory, it’s going to design an all-new platform anyway, and sharing that responsibility with a company like Toyota – a company that’s already expressed interest in partnering up and one that has been largely responsible with its partnerships in the past – could serve to be a rather profitable venture for Porsche.
It would, in theory, cut Porsche’s overhead on the new platform in half.
With R&D costs cut for an all-electric platform for a car the size of the 718 – the same size we’d expect the MR2 to be if it did go all-electric – Porsche could keep the pricing of the all-electric 718 within a reasonable range compared to the current ICE-powered model. Sure pricing will increase a bit, but Porsche also has to convince its buyers to fall in love with a sports EV. The Taycan can help with that, but it’s a sedan, and it’s driving dynamic will be largely different, even if it does have a lower center of gravity than the 911. On Toyota’s end, the whole ordeal would give it the ability to position a car of similar size between the 86 and Supra without hurting the base loyalty for either car – the MR2 will be an EV with an all-new dynamic, so it’ll establish its own new customer base. This is really the only way Toyota can afford to build a new sports car and revive the MR2 moniker.
Potential Porsche 718 Cayman EV and Toyota MR2 EV Specs
The beauty of the Porsche 718 Cayman is that it sits much lower in the range than the 911. It is, essentially, an entry-level sports car that starts out as low as about $57,000 – a price that’s rather attainable for a lot of people, and much more so than the $90,000+ Porsche 911. It also doesn’t compete with the 911 in terms of performance (the base 911 hits 60 mph in as fast as 4 seconds flat while the base 718 Cayman takes nearly 5 seconds.) So, if you’re thinking that Porsche will just carry over the new Taycan’s powertrain, you’re dead wrong. The 718 isn’t going to become some electric, miniature supercar, and it damn sure won’t offer the same performance as the Taycan – it needs to stay in the same range it is currently, not only in price but in performance as well.
Moving the 718 above the 911 in either price or performance could drastically damage Porsche’s bottom line as the 911 will become the “entry-level” sports car, and that will not only hurt its image but will make getting into a Porsche sports car much more expensive and implausible for most. Porsche knows better than to do that to its loyal customers. So what will the 718 Cayman EV and Toyota MR2 EV bring to the table then? That’s a good question.
Porsche has demonstrated that it can deliver a powerful EV.
The Taycan, for better or worse, pumps out as much as 750 horsepower and as much as 744 pound-feet of torque in Turbo S form with overboost active.
Neither the 718 Cayman EV or the Toyota MR2 EV will be able to do that, even if it’s “easily” possible. Neither brand can afford to go anywhere close to what the 911 or Supra offer in terms of performance or power output. That means that, even if Porsche (and Toyota, for that matter) offer the same electric motors and battery packs, performance and power output will be limited. Expect the next-gen MR2 and 718 to offer little more than 300 horsepower in base form. They may go close to 400 in range-topping form, maybe, but that model will also be much more expensive – think about the $99,000 718 Cayman GT4, for example.
|2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo||2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo S|
|Electric motors power||616 horsepower (670 horsepower with overboost)||616 horsepower (750 horsepower with overboost)|
|Weight||5,132 pounds||5,121 pounds|
|0-60 mph||3 seconds||2.6 seconds|
|Quarter of a mile time||11.1 seconds||10.8 seconds|
|Top Speed||161 mph||161 mph|
Toyota Will Probably Use Porsche’s Drivetrain Setup
In case you were wondering, when this partnership comes to life, and I believe it will, Toyota will most likely take in whatever platform and drivetrain Porsche uses to power and underpin the new 718 Cayman. Evidence of this can be seen in the Toyota 86 and the Supra, both of which borrow their engine and chassis from Subaru and BMW, respectively. The new 718 Cayman EV will be all Porsche, of course, as it’s highly doubtful that Porsche will want to take anything from Toyota aside from their investment in the process. Toyota, on the other hand, will design their own bodywork and some of the interior bits. Don’t be surprised to see some old Porsche switches or trim in the new MR2, though, as that is exactly what happened with the Supra – it had quite a few old switches and other bits from BMW’s leftover parts bin of yesteryear.
The biggest downside to the 718 Cayman and the next-gen MR2 being electric is that there will be absolutely no opportunity for a manual transmission.
Sure, they’ll be stupid fast for their size and price, but the best we could hope for in that regard would be a simulated transmission, and you’re probably better without that anyway.
Whether or not a partnership between Porsche and Toyota really happens remains to be seen in terms of an official announcement, but Porsche has now made it clear that it’s willing to share its new platform with other brands and Toyota has now made it clear that it’s very interested in working with Porsche. MR2 and Porsche fanboys alike may take offense at first, but in the end, a venture like this could be amazing if executed properly. Funny, I never thought I’d see the day when Toyota and Porsche building a sports car together was even a remote possibility, and yet, here we are. Interesting times we’re living in, huh?
Read our full review on the 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman.
Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Toyota MR2.
Source: Auto Express