Entry-level Porsche still good to drive
- Fun to drive
- Fast, compact electric roof
- Refined and comfortable
- Excellent build quality
- Eye-catching design
- Characterless engine
- Pricey extras
- No mpg improvement in typical use
- Turbo lag in Boxster
Despite first impressions, this not a mid-life refresh. Porsche claims only the luggage compartment lids, windscreen and convertible roof carry over from the outgoing Boxster.
There are chassis changes, new body panels and an updated interior with a much-improved touchscreen infotainment system, but the big news relates to the engines.
Boxster loses two cylinders; gains a turbo
Out go the old 2.7 Boxster and 3.4-litre Boxster S flat-six-cylinder motors, replaced by a pair of flat-four turbos mounted behind the driver.
The Boxster has never had anything but six-cylinder power since its introduction 20 years ago, so Porsche is dusting off its historically important 718 naming to legitimise the new engines. It references a four-cylinder roadster that raced with success in the 1950s and ’60s.
The entry-level 718 Boxster uses a 2.0-litre flat-four with 295bhp, while the 718 Boxster S steps up to a 2.5-litre version rated at 345bhp.
Sadly, the Boxster has lost an integral part of its character along with those two extra cylinders. The exotic howl of the old engines – both closely related to the 911’s – has disappeared, replaced by a deep burbly thrum that could be mistaken for a Subaru Impreza’s, especially if you specify the optional sports exhaust.
These are, however, technically impressive engines, both are keen to rev and the 718 Boxster S disguises turbo lag ably. They are also more powerful and efficient (on paper) than the larger six-cylinder units. In real-world conditions, however, even engineers admit fuel economy is likely to be similar between the two generations.
Classic Boxster driving dynamics remain
Despite our grumbles over the new engines, the Boxster continues to be the benchmark driver’s car in this segment: its steering is fast and precise, and the mid-engined chassis is both agile and incredibly forgiving.
It feels far more exotic to drive than its relatively affordable price suggests. Both feel like performance cars, but the S is a very quick car.
Both models are available with a beautifully tactile six-speed manual transmission, or a dual-clutch PDK with paddle-shifters on the steering wheel. The PDK offers faster gear shifts, but also improves fuel economy.
Folding roof can be operated on the move
While some rivals favour a folding hardtop – literally a solid metal roof that folds away into the luggage compartment – Porsche has stuck with a fabric roof.
It has the advantages of lowering and raising much faster, and of doing so while the vehicle is moving at speeds approaching 40mph. And unlike folding hardtops, the fabric roof does not eat into luggage space when stowed. It’s a key tenet of this versatile sports car’s enduring appeal.
We tested both the Porsche 718 Boxster and S models on the press launch in Portugal.