It’s been roughly one and a half years since we had the opportunity to drive the new Porsche 718 Boxster. Although it’s officially classified as a facelift, its new name and new engine had people wondering for a while: out went the flat six, in came a turbocharged flat four. Certainly no half measures for ‘just’ a facelift.
The numbers 718 hint back to the glorious 1950s, times during which Porsche celebrated many racing successes with its 1.6-liter four-cylinder boxer engine. The new name may represent old glory, but much of what’s under the skin of this generation’s mid-engined drop-top has been sourced and inspired by recent dominance in the racing world: the Le Mans winning 919 Hybrid LMP1 car. The turbocharged flat four features several parts that are similar to those of the 919’s engine.
Nearing the end of the current generation Boxster, Porsche traditionally introduces a top model with a little extra kick: this is the 2018 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS. It has more power, even sportier looks and comes with an array of performance-oriented options as standard. We traveled out to sunny Andalusia where top-down driving is a year round pleasure.
From a design perspective the letters ‘GTS’ bring a little extra flair to the otherwise mature looks of the 718 Boxster. The sharp contours are highlighted by black accents at the front and rear apron, the air intakes on the side and black-tinted taillights. A nice set of 20-inch 10-spoke Carrera S wheels finished in Satin Black complete the picture. I have to say, the GTS styling comes out especially well if you opt for a more flashy color, like Miami Blue or Racing Yellow.
The interior of the 718 Boxster GTS portrays a nice mix of sportiveness and luxury. The wealth of Alcantara leather, from the steering wheel to the mid-console and gear lever, certainly has a nice feel to it. The contrasting stitching of the leather also brings some more character into the cockpit, which is very driver-oriented. Even on ‘entry-models’ like the 718 Cayman and Boxster, it’s impressive to see the extent of personalization options that Porsche offers.
Although luxurious, the traditional ensemble of instruments as well as the small infotainment system hint at a slightly dated interior. The infotainment screen is small and the tiny digital speedometer that is integrated within the clock ensemble right in front of the driver looks like its due for an update. However fair is fair, when it comes to features such as climate control and driver assistance systems the 718 Boxster is very basic in its own right. Many things have been left out to save weight and improve the dynamic capabilities of the car, and I like that.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get that little extra comfort that today’s technology provides: new Porsche Communication Management (PCM) with touch functionality comes standard in all models, but Apple Carplay, maximum connectivity and gimmicks such as an induction charger for your mobile phone are available as options.
What’s really important tough, is what’s sitting right behind the seats: the four-cylinder boxer engine. In standard guise it’s good for 300 horsepower and 380 Nm of torque, a firm increase over the retired flat-six from the previous generation. The GTS comes with a 2.5-liter displacement and produces 365 hp and 430 Nm of torque if you go with the PDK model. The 6-speed manual has to do with 10 Nm less torque, but also weighs 30 kilograms less.
Turning the ignition, the four-cylinder boxer roars to life with a sweet burble. With the optional sports exhaust installed, the noise coming from this engine is hardly inferior to that of the flat-six. My Racing Yellow test model was specced in the most competent configuration available, including the Sport Chrono Package and the 7-Speed PDK.
With the soft-top tucked away in just 10 seconds time, it was time to hit the snaky roads in the beautiful countryside of Andalusia. With clear blue skies, some delightful sunshine and the thermometer reading 23 degrees Celsius, the driving conditions were ideal.
Turning onto the road and giving the gas pedal a firm stab, the 718 Boxster GTS shoots forward. With the optional PDK transmission and the standard Sport Chrono Package equipped, it takes just 4.1 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h, while the standard manual configuration takes half a second longer to reach the same speed from a standstill. The two-seater drop top is able to reach an impressive top speed of 290 km/h, although I’d recommend closing the top if you’d ever find yourself on a deserted Autobahn.
As I turned the Sport Chrono switch on the steering wheel to Sport Plus, an extra dose of roar was instantly released from the central dual-pipe exhaust. The GTS is properly loud and with the top down you get to enjoy it to the fullest. Although I can imagine times where you just want to cruise and leave the noise for what it is. Turning the switch back to comfort does a pretty good job of containing the fireworks from the exhaust and brings back some peace into the cabin.
Apart from blasting forward in a straight line, the 718 Boxster GTS doesn’t exactly shy away from a few good curves either. With Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with adaptive dampers as standard, the GTS models sit an extra 10 mm lower to the ground and bring noticeably more stability when cornering at high speeds. The stiff ride stays wonderfully flat in corners, but leaves plenty of room for enthusiastic drivers to color outside the lines.
With the engine placed mid-rear and all those 365 horses transferred to the rear axle, it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to make that booty tango. The standard mechanical rear differential lock combined with torque vectoring are quick to correct if need be, but don’t spoil all the fun. Steering out of the corner the Boxster GTS picks up pace almost effortlessly. The single turbocharger ensures peak torque availability from as low as 1,900 rpm, all the way up to 5,500 rpm.
Taking over control of the shift paddles behind the wheel, the experience of running through the gear all the way passed 7,000 rpm is absolutely thrilling. Gearbox calibration never really leaves much to be desired with a solid PDK, it runs through the gears swiftly and has a more than adequate response to down- and upshifts. For the purists out there, the standard manual configuration is probably the go-to option, albeit at the expense of efficiency and acceleration speed.
The naturally tough steering has a lot of feel to it and boosts confidence: it’s precise and gave me solid feedback in corners. It certainly invites to get sweaty behind the wheel, hence the Alcantara leather on the steering wheel. After an intensive journey with the 718 Boxster GTS that made my hair look like I just tickled a power line, I came to the following conclusion.
The 2018 Porsche Boxster GTS offers the perfect package for those who want a pure Porsche experience without bleeding dry their savings account. With a starting price of roughly €78,000 in Germany, it’s certainly not a cheap supplement to your daily driver, but definitely one of the most satisfying and engaging options out there!