IF THE previous Porsche 781 Boxster shared genes with the 911 GT3, the 718 now feels like it has a common ancestor with the 911 Turbo. The 718 is a far less highly strung car, one you surf a wave of tacho-wide torque rather than neck-wring to the very last howling rpm like before.
Having driven the new car in Australia for the first time, we are getting our heads around the new Boxster’s major engine – and personality – transplant.
You may have already read about the Boxster replacing its revvy I nat-atmo flat-six engines with a pair of torquey turbo flat-fours – in the base, a 220kW/380Nm 2.0-litre replacing the old 2.7-litre six and in the S, a 257kW/420Nm 2.5-litre taking over from the old 3.4-litre.
Efficiency has improved, as you would at least hope, the PDK base Boxster needing 6.9 litres to cover 100km and the PDK S 7.3 litres, savings of one litre and 0.9 litres respectively.
The styling has been tweaked in traditional Porsche fashion. We quite like the new prismatic, dark tail-light set-up, although many would struggle to tell the new car from old.
Chassis and suspension revisions have been kept to a minimum, though the steering is now 10 per cent quicker.
Porsche has also swapped Cayman and Boxster around, the droptop now positioned as the more senior model. A base manual Boxster has jumped from $104,500 to $113,100, the manual S also up from $130,100 to $143,400. (A base manual 718 Cayman is now $110,000, the manual S $140,300.)
Despite the downsizing, your money still buys something truly special to drive.
Whereas the old Boxster was undoubtedly quick, to go properly fast you had to think about maintaining momentum and keeping the revs up for maximum progress. But the new one, with full torque available from about 2000rpm, takes less skill to cover ground at the same pace as the old car. With some semblance of ability applied, the old Boxster would be getting a very temporary look at the 718’s new tail-lights indeed.
In the move to 718, the Boxster has become a much more serious weapon. In S-guise, in particular, it’s so fast you need time to adjust.
The new low-down torque makes it easier to hustle and is even more welcome with Porsche’s new Sport ESP, permitting out of slower, tighter corners a quicker rotation of the car with the loud pedal – which you couldn’t really do with the old one. To properly appreciate the engine’s extra flexibility, you need only remember the old flatsix’s sometimes patience-testing combination of taller gearing and comparative lack of mid-range.
Of course, the handling is sublime, the 718 Boxster – like its predecessor – a real sweetheart on a twisty road, the chassis seeming to get better and give you more the faster you go. It makes an F-Type – itself not a bad jigger – feel like an old Ford Explorer.
But though comparatively wobblier, some customers will be lost to cars like the Jaguar just for the noise. A boxer-four, even tuned by Porsche’s acoustic team, cannot beat an on-song six. Something special has been lost in the move to four cylinders.
And, yes, while it has a very WRXlike offbeat burble in the lower revs, it just becomes loud noise as you rev it right out. Tunnel hunting?
Anyone who didn’t know the old Boxster will be blown away by the 718. In this one model update, the Boxster has become a much more potent device, now with the grunt to match a traditionally talented chassis, yet still seriously satisfying to drive fast. It’s gone from being like a very junior, convertible 911 GT3 to more of a baby droptop 911 Turbo. It's a change more for the better than worse, but mostly the Boxster is now just different.
Seriously fast and talented
Something special definitely lost with the two cylinders