A flat engine is an internal combustion engine with multiple pistons that move in a horizontal plane. Typically, the layout has cylinders arranged in two banks on either side of a single crankshaft and is generally known as the boxer, or horizontally-opposed engine—not to be confused with opposed-piston engines, which are mechanically different.
The German’s are known to be obsessed with new technology and this fetish for research and development does lead to numerous awe-inspiring products. Take the example of Porsche. The car that has had its engine stuck to its back since its birth more than half a century ago. Porsche’s have always managed to defy the laws of nature. A horizontally-opposed engine has also been the trademark of Porsches. Porsche has moved on from a flat-4 cylinder setup to a flat-six cylinder configuration.
Now, Porsche engineers could come up with yet another revolutionary engine. A horizontally-opposed 8-cylinder engine could power Porsche’s high end supercars in the future. Porsche is mulling a supercar that will be placed above the current 911 range but below the hypercars of the past like the Carrera GT and the latest 918 Sypder. We could see this new engine in the sports car Porsche is planning to take on Ferrari with.
The Porsche management wants a car to rival the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini directly. The main reason why the new supercar will need a brand new engine is because, in its current flat-six configuration, the engine can only accommodate up to 4 litres which in modern supercar terms is really not enough. Hence, a flat-eight could be the answer. By the looks of it, Porsche might also stick with the rear-engine setup for the new supercar.
The new engine is set to be the basis for future models and we could see smaller capacity engines derived from the new flat-8 that could make it into future 911s. Turbocharging is what Porsche might stick to in the future and the flat-4/flat-6 engines of the future may not be naturally aspirated as they are now. Although, no plans have been confirmed, the ever tightening grip of emission norms has forced automakers to come up with more cleaners and greener engines. Turbocharged smaller capacity engines are slowly becoming the trend and could be around for a while unless somebody comes up with an even better alternative.