20 years after the initial introduction of the Porsche Boxster it returns with a new name and a completely new four cylinder engine with performance that beats the previous generation 911 Carrera.
Although the 718 Boxster might sound like a completely new generation at first it is actually a very extensive facelift of the third generation Boxster first introduced in 2012. The 718 name is a reference to the 1950s Porsche 718 that celebrated several racing successes with its 1.6 liter four cylinder boxer engine including overall win at the legendary Targa Florio race in 1958 and 1961.
The 718 identifier reflects a 1950s Porsche but its technical inspiration came from a much more recent model; the Le Mans winning 919 Hybrid. Several parts of the flat four engine in the new Boxster are similar to those of the 919 Hybrid.
So how good or bad is the new engine? On paper it has some impressive specifications. The Boxster comes with a 2 liter displacement and 300 hp, the Boxster S has a 2.5 liter flat four with 350 hp. Both gain 35hp over their predecessor. Torque wise the increase is even more significant: the 718 Boxster has 380 Nm of torque, 100 Nm more than the old one. The Boxster S gained 60 Nm with a total of 420 Nm.
Thanks to the turbo this peak torque is also available at a much lower rev range – starting as low as 1950 rpm which changes the driving characteristics of the Boxster fundamentally. I’m quite a fan of turbocharged engines and i’m more than happy with the performance of the new four cylinder.
All this power and torque also translates to some new and impressive acceleration and top speed values. The new Boxster with PDK now sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds, the same time as the last generation Boxster GTS. The Boxster S with PDK does it in only 4.2 seconds. Top speed is limited to 275 km/h for the Boxster and 285 km/h for the Boxster S.
Added performance from the new turbo flat four is great but the real reason for Porsche’s move to the new four cylinder is the increasingly tough emission demands that require downsizing. And in this regard the new Boxster also sets significantly lower values in terms of CO2 and fuel economy.
Porsche offers two gearbox choices: a six speed manual or optional Porsche’s double clutch PDK. The PDK is faster but a purist might want to go for the manual – which provides lovely throttle blips on downshifts and has a great mechanical feel to it.
Suspension, brakes and steering all received a major update and upgrade. The steering is now 10% more direct which you feel immediately. Wider rear wheels add to the high speed stability.
There are a lot of options available for the new Boxster and Boxster S and to make choosing the right ones a bit easier I will share some of my favorites with you. First of all the choice of engine and gearbox is entirely up to personal taste. I would go for the Boxster S as it packs a lot more power than the normal Boxster. Normally I would prefer the PDK for its speed and comfort in daily use but I have to say the Manual is very engaging and a lot of fun to drive even if it’s 0.2 seconds slower on the sprint to 100 km/h.
I would certainly add PASM with adaptive dampers which give a significant difference between comfort and sport mode. For those who like it sporty you can also get a special 20mm lower sport suspension but for me the standard PASM does just fine.
An absolute must is the sport exhaust with adjustable flaps, you really notice Porsche put a lot of effort in making it sound as good as possible and on downshifts it reminds me of the popping sound the 911 Turbo makes which is certainly not a bad thing.
For those using the Boxster on a daily basis I would add adaptive cruise control and the new Porsche infotainment system dubbed PCM which now comes with a new touch screen and optional apple carplay integration.
Finally another must have is the Sport Chrono package. This adds the drive select wheel knob on the steering wheel allowing you to change drive modes between normal, sport, sport+ and individual. In combination with PDK it also adds launch control, a new gearshift strategy and a sport response function. New also is a special ESP sport program that allows a larger drift angle.
Overall the Porsche 718 Boxster and Boxster S are a big step up over their predecessors. The new four cylinder engine is very different from the naturally aspirated flat six used in the previous version but in a very good way. I particularly enjoyed the manual gearbox as it adds a certain level of engagement despite being slower than the PDK. It is hard to find any flaws or it has to be the fairy turbulent airflow in the cabin with the roof down and the optional sport seats which are unsuitable for tall people – although I have to say that compared to other mid engines sports and supercars like the Audi R8 the Boxster has more leg space inside.
The new Boxster is a lot of fun to drive and it is the sportiest convertible in this segment. The new engine and updates have been executed very well and the design has really matured over the last 20 years.