Porsche: Tuning and Badges

Nothing but pure curiosity drove me to this. What sort of engine range does Porsche have?

2015 Porsche Boxster GTS.
2015 Porsche Boxster GTS.

We had an interesting theme on engines some months back. We covered a lot of ground such as the engines of the mainstream makers and a special focus on quints, small V6s, rough American fours and French ones generally. What we didn’t do was look at sports cars like Porsche for whom the engine is essential to their credibility. Sorting this out sorts out their baffling range of cars too.

Porsche have seven models now, goodness me. If you’d have asked I’d have said five and been hard pressed to name all of them. In the showroom you will find the Boxster, Cayman, 911, 918, Panamera, Macan and Cayenne. The 918 won’t be in the showroom unless it’s used but it’s still listed at the UK website for some reason. Four are obvious sports cars with either two seats or a 2+2 layout; one is a four door saloon and there are two SUVs.

What I found out is that for Porsche every engine variant is deemed worthy of a model designation. This is not quite like, say, Renault where you have a Megane in several engine and trim variants: 1.8 dCi in Expression Plus trim**. It’s not like BMW where the name 520i tells you quite precisely where you are apart from the optional trim. Porsche don’t have trim levels as such. You pick a body and an engine combination which comes with a name such as Macan G4S (I made that up) or Cayenne STD and then the rest of the car is chosen a la carte. 4, 4S or GTS? Who could tell which was the mightiest of those without resorting to inspecting Porsches’s web site as I did.

2015 Porsche Panamera GTS: Porsche
2015 Porsche Panamera GTS: Porsche

Engines do seem to be at the heart of it all but the range is somehow less exciting and less interesting than I would have thought. They have a four 6-cylinder boxer units (2.7 litres, 3.4 litres, 3.8 litres and 4.0 litres) in varying states of tune. Those all burn petrol. Only Subaru have a boxer diesel, remember. There is a 3.0 diesel V6.. They have petrol V6s in 3.0 litre and 3.6 litre capacities. The V8 comes as 4.6 litre (in the 918 oddity) and a 4.8 litre unit with and without electric supplementary motors (used in the Panamera). Finally, a 2.0 turbo four-cylinder petrol can be found in the Macan.

Without checking too hard, I guess this a VW-unit of some type, as found in Passats and A4s, no doubt. All that adds up nine petrol engines, four hybrids and two diesels. The Macan 2.0 litre petrol four is not worthy of Porsche’s other engines. I am not sure why they have this option as it must be not terribly different pricewise from whatever VW-group this car is based on (the Audi Q5).

Boiling this down further, Porsche rely on a

  • 2.0 4-cylinder petrol;
  • 6 cylinder boxer engine which is stretched from 2.7 to 3.8 litres;
  • a petrol  V6 series running from 3.0 litres to 4.2 litres;
  • a diesel V6s in 3.0 litre form;
  • a diesel V8 of  4.2 litre capacity;
  • a  petrol V8 in 4.6 and 4.8 litre capacities.

Turbo charging adds some variety to this mix here and there. I make that to be four main engines serving Porsche in various duties plus that oddball VAG parts-bin special dumped in the Macan. I think the petrol V6 might be a bit over-stressed at the higher end of the capacity range. Or maybe not. Presumably Porsche engineered their way out of that hazard.

Key Findings:

The Macan 2.0 is Porsche’s Cimarron. Porsche have a model-per-engine policy. If there is an engine variant, it gets a model name of its own. They have a handful of engines in different capacities and states of tune. Six really: a borrowed four-cylinder petrol, flat six, a petrol V6, a diesel V6, a diesel V8 and a petrol V8 plus some hybrids. All the rest is tuning and badges.

The Engine Range In Full.

Boxster (flat, petrol)

  • 2.7 6-cylinder with 195 kW and a 64 litre tank
  • 3.4 6-cylinder with 243 kW.
  • 3.8 6-cylinder with 276 kW.

Cayman (flat, petrol)

  • 2.7 6-cylinder with 202 kW.
  • 3.4 6-cylinder with 239 kW.
  • 3.4 6-cylinder with  250 kW
  • 3.8 6-cylinder with 283 kW.

911 – there are 22 different models of 911 (flat, petrol)

  • 3.4 6-cylinder, 257 kW
  • 3.4 6-cylinder with 347 kW
  • 3.8 6-cylinder with 294 kW
  • 3.8 6-cylinder with 316, kW
  • 3.8 6-cylinder with 350 kW
  • 3.8 6-cylinder with 383 kW
  • 3.8 6-cylinder with 412 kW
  • 4.0 6-cylinder with 368 kW.

918 Spyder (petrol)

  • 4.6 litre V8 hybrid. Limited production only.


  • Hybrid 3.0 V6 with 245 kW petrol
  • Diesel 3.0 V6 with 221 kW.
  • 3.6 petrol V6 with 228 kW
  • Twin turbo petrol V6 with 309 kW
  • 4.8 petrol V8 with 324 kW
  • 4.8 petrol V8 with 382 kW
  • 4.8 petrol V8 with 419 kW


  • 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder 174 kW
  • 3.0 turbo V6 with 250 kW
  • 3.0 turbo V6 with 190 kW
  • Twin turbo 3.6 V6 with 294 kW


  • 3.6 V6 with 220 kW
  • 3.6 V6 with 309 kW
  • 3.6 V6 petrol with 324 kW
  • 3.0 V6 diesel with 193 kW
  • 4.2 V8 diesel with 283 kW
  • 4.8 V8 with 419 kW
  • Hybrid 3.0 V6 petrol with 245 and supplementary electric motors.

**Renault’s trim hierarchy is now quite oblique as well. You can be certain of the engine and model but little else. Navigating their website is a nuisance.

[NOTE: The text was revised on September 22nd 2015 to reflect the fact thatthe 4.2 litre diesel in the Cayenne is a V8 and not a V6 as was originally written.]


Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

9 thoughts on “Porsche: Tuning and Badges”

  1. I regularly see what I think of as 911s passing my office window, but I’m regularly corrected by guests because it appear to be 912s or 964s or something similar. To me also BMW and Mercedes identification is a secret language. I see e.g. 2, 3 and 5 series and A, B and C classes, but hear people bragging about their E-something or W-something.

  2. Mercedes’ system is reasonably clear or was until recently. I think the W-something names are the production codes e.g. W-124 and W-126 which refer to the bodies and not engines or trim.

    1. That’s right, with minor variants being R for sporting convertibles, C for coupés and V for the long-wheelbase versions.

      BMW used to give all their “modern” vehicles E-codes, until they ran out of double-digit figures. Currently, we’re dealing with the F-generation of BMWs, to be succeeded by G-coded cars in the very near future. Up until last year, there also were so R-code models – namely the Mini variants up to, but excluding the current Mk 3 version, with R having stood for “Rover”.

      I can, in theory, relate to Melle’s bewilderment, but in practice, it’s far easier to refer to the “W126” than “that elegant S-class they built for more than a decade, you know, the one that got the Yakuza to fall in love with Mercedes”. “E30” is also somewhat catchier than “the boxy 3 series that looked strange as a four door, but pretty neat as a Touring and downright lovely as a convertible”.

  3. I apologize in advance for both being late and a bit off topic, but as you mention the Subaru boxer diesel: The idea’s clung to me since its introduction, but I’ve never actually driven one. Is it as good as I think it is? Any thoughts?

  4. Alas I can´t report any information on this. You would imagine such an oddity might get more attention. I can´t recall reading a single review in print and have not gone looking for one. There is a Subaru dealer 6 km from here. I ought to arrange a test drive sometime.

  5. As I understood it originally (though I haven’t driven one) the Subaru diesel was a good engine, as you’d expect, but economy was disappointing. Now, in my book, economy is the only reason for ever wanting an oil burner, and I’m not quite sure that’s even good enough. Recent reviews seem to speak a bit better about consumption though. But, yes. Get over to that dealer Richard!

    1. Thanks for drawing my attention to that. I will revise it and note the revision. Still, though, isn´t the Porsche formula a bit of a swizz?

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