The Boxster is now turbocharged—no surprises there as it takes after Porsche’s 911 Carrera range. It’s a move that’s equally significant for the beloved roadster, and based on the improved performance of the turbo’d Carrera, it’s easy to wax lyrical about how the new Boxster should go.
But the biggest change apart from going turbo is the number of cylinders—there are now four cylinders, or two horizontally opposed pairs. That’s a pair short from what we normally know. To further establish this drastic change, Porsche has given the Boxster a new name: 718 Boxster, referencing the 1957 718 RSK. The latter was a 1.5-liter four-cylinder race car with a number of wins under its belt, including first in class at Le Mans. Sounds convincing. If there’s one sports car company that capitalizes on its heritage, it’s Porsche.
To be honest, 718 Boxster is such a long name, though. It’s like calling someone by his full name. Then again, we’re used to saying 911 Carrera, 911 Targa, 911 Turbo, and so on. Since ‘718 Boxster’ doesn’t roll off your tongue in the same manner, you’d be forgiven for simply calling it Boxster. Now, let’s move on.
Powering this base variant is a 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-four, delivering 300hp and 380Nm—39hp and 100Nm more than the normally aspirated 2.7-liter flat-six it replaces. For our market, we get only the PDK dual-clutch gearbox. How can you tell a turbo’d Boxster from its naturally aspirated predecessor? It comes with bi-xenon headlamps with LED DRLs (LED headlamps with four-point DRLs are optional), and larger and redesigned air intakes and inlets.
But the most obvious change is a new accent strip in gloss black with 3D-effect Porsche lettering, along with three-dimensional LED taillights with four-point brake lights with black housing and a clear frame. The rear definitely looks much more aggressive. The previous model had softer edges compared to the 718’s sharper lines. Only the hood, the trunk lid, and the windshield are the same.
Just like the 991.2 Carrera lineup, the 718 range gets the 918-derived Sport Design steering wheel. To keep the price in check, however, multifunction buttons on the wheel come as an option, so does the Sport Response Button. Other changes inside include a redesigned dashboard. Air-conditioning vents are now round as opposed to the old rectangular design. The gauges are new, too, although you have to look closely to distinguish the difference. The Porsche Communications Management system has crisper graphics and is simpler to use.
So, what does the turbo Boxster feel like to drive? It’s now more exciting in the low revs. The rev range is practically linear all the way to the 7,400rpm redline, with a slight kick just before you hit 3,000rpm. Throttle response is immediate—particularly useful when you’re exiting a tight turn or a corner, since you can be on the power instantly. And to think this is just the base variant. It’s so good, it makes you wonder if you really need the S version.
And the sound? This flat-four has a rougher growl than the flat-six, but the tone isn’t too far off. For a four-cylinder, it’s quite impressive. It actually still sounds like an NA, without the whistling or spooling drama.
This really is such a well-balanced car, and it’s faster to boot. Even with the additional power, there’s no excuse to not drive it neatly. The chassis is well-sorted, steering is delightfully precise, and the brakes are impressive as you’d expect from the brand. And apart from being very balanced, the Boxster is easy to keep in control. The suspension is firm but not jarring. My wife loves it—it’s so composed that she understands it when I say the car is so usable. Not to mention the trunk volume—important to women, mind you. This roadster can put a midsize sedan’s trunk space to shame.
The 718, um, Boxster is purposeful. Engaging Sport mode and stepping on the throttle (in a neat but accelerating manner) will get the best out of the rev band. The PDK shifts well on its own, but if you want to take matters into your own hands, shift via the paddles; the gearbox tends to move up to the next gear quickly given the healthier low-to midrange. On the other hand, more low-end torque provides better efficiency, with the transmission making better use of the available pull and the shifting gears (at around 2,000rpm) when you’re not pushing, even in Sport mode.
Driven efficiently around town, the Boxster returned around 8km/L. On the highway, I managed to get 13.5km/L. It’s possible to achieve better numbers still, but you’ll be putting the car to waste if you’re cruising well below triple-digit speeds.
Yes, even the Boxster has now gone the turbo route. As with the naturally aspirated 911, it was bound to happen. But by going four cylinders, Porsche brings back a past glory and capitalizes on what it already knows.
SPECS: PORSCHE 718 BOXSTER
Engine: 2.0-liter turbopetrol H4
Power: 300hp @ 6,500rpm
Torque: 380Nm @ 1,950-4,500rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch