Porsche has announced that it will bring back the 944 model in 2023 as its low-cost entry to the specialty sports car market. The cars will be built in Germany at a factory currently under renovation and retooling outside of Stuttgart.
The new 2023 944 model will be powered by the 718 Cayman S 2.7L flat-six turbo, then mated to a rear-mounted six-speed manual transaxle with an option for a seven-speed PDK. The 2.7 turbo engine will generate 345 HP at 4800 rpm and 310 lb/ft of torque at 3600 rpm. As with the Cayman and Boxster, fuel economy will hover around 22/32 mpg.
Porsche is banking on a new twist in module design for the new 944. By making the platform and driveline adaptable to a variety of new and emerging technologies as well as utilizing the Cayman flat six, the modular chassis can last for decades. “Designing a modular chassis and putting the flat-six turbo into the legacy 944 chassis configuration was an interesting but still simple engineering challenge.” according to Dieter Braun, Projekt 944 Managing Director. “The engine will be mounted on its own subframe as will the transaxle, making assembly more efficient. We also incorporated many suspension and brake system refinements from the Taycan to upgrade the chassis stiffness, suspension and brakes to handle the power and torque.” Braun added that the Porsche-exclusive Multiple Modular Subframe (MMS) design will also make adaptation to hybrid and full electric drivelines a much more efficient and cost-effective transition as those technologies advance.
Enthusiasts adapting other drivelines into the 944 line, such as V8 and Audi/VW turbos, has not been lost on Porsche. Hans Becker, the Projeckt 944 Brand Manager, said, “MMS allows for wholesale changes of the driveline while retaining the rest of the car as-is. Both the engine and transmission could be replaced with electric motors, giving us a dual-motor, all-wheel drive version. In that configuration, the center tunnel allows us to put batteries in a low, centered, CG-optimized and crash-safe position. In fact, the low-CG of the existing flat-six setup means that changing to a low-CG electric powertrain won’t require major reworks of the suspension or the rest of the car to retain the same driving dynamics.”
Mr. Braun also said that while the internal designation for the new/old car is the “744,” the car will be marketed as a “944.”
Pop-up headlights will be gone in favor of headlight pods sculpted into the front fenders. Other familiar styling cues remain, with 85% of the body styling retained from the 83-91 944 and Turbo, including the “Turbo” script on the rear. Standard features will include a power driver’s seat, heated front seats, full instrumentation, air conditioning, cruise control and a large touch screen infotainment system. Of course, four-wheel ABS brakes and electric power steering are standard. Outside and interior dimensions will be reminiscent of the original 944.
In a departure from the previous 944, body panels will be a combination of aluminum, composite and steel to keep the weight as low as possible. Prototype estimates show a dry curb weight of 1347 kg (2965 lbs). Porsche estimates performance figures to show 0-60 in less than 4.0 seconds with a top speed of 177 mph. Plans for new classes in PCA Club Racing and SCCA are in the works to support both privateer and factory teams sporting these new cars. There are rumors of at least two factory-supported multi-car 944 GTE teams for the 2023 LeMans with a variant for IMSA at the Daytona Rolex and Sebring 12 hour. Could Porsche possibly produce a 944 RSR with the 4.2L NA flat six RSR engine at over 500 hp? Could this signal that Porsche is going to get serious about sports car racing again?
Unfortunately, no photos or pricing of the new 944 or 924 are available to the public at this time. However, a product rollout is anticipated at the Porsche Classic Factory Restoration Center in Atlanta, Georgia towards the end of the summer of 2021.
Porsche is anticipating output at 20,000 944’s and 10,000 924’s in the first year production of each model. Right hand drive variants will be available for markets in Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom in limited quantities. Porsche dealers will begin taking orders for the new 944 on January 1, 2022 for late 2022 delivery, and for the electric 924 on January 1, 2023 for late 2023 delivery. Porsche anticipates strong pre-sales.