As I was walking around the latest Porsche 718 Boxster, admiring its 911 like front end, lithe silhouette, soft black top and wide rump, few thoughts crossed my mind.
The first was, ‘What a stunner’, especially in deep metallic grey with gloss-black alloy wheels, super low-profile tyres and red brake callipers fitted to the test car.
My second thought was ‘Damn’! I only had a few days with it.
The third, as I dropped into the body-hugging sports, saw the tops of the front guards through the windscreen and the large tacho staring back at me; it sure feels like a Porsche from here.
And the fourth, when I hit the start button and it roared into life was, ‘WTF’! what’s with the sound? That’s nothing like a Porsche sound.
Gone was the unique, spine-tingling wail of the flat six engine, just behind my head. In its place a new sound, not necessarily a bad sound, just different. The new sound signals the arrival of an all-new flat-four cylinder engine. An engine configuration that has given Porsche great success at Le Mans; in its 718 mid-engine sports cars, hence the new model’s badge.
Launched mid-2016, the fast and frugal 718 Boxster is 80 percent all-new. Its two-litre, 220 kW/380Nm turbocharged four charges from zero to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 275km/h. It has 26 more kilowatts and 35 percent more torque than its predecessor, despite two less cylinders. What’s more, it uses less fuel. And its seven-speed auto sends drive to the rear wheels.
Featured in the 718 Boxster test car was the Sport Chrono package with switchable driving modes previously exclusive to the 911. Also drafted from the 911 is the Sport Response button on the steering wheel that maximises the driveline performance for 20-second bursts getting you to warp factor 9 in a nano second. It’s great for overtaking and sphincter-clenching fun when you combine it with a boot full of throttle through corners.
Complementing the Sport Chrono pack was the optional Active suspension letting you switch damper settings to suit your driving style and roads. Completing the package were huge drilled discs with big meaty callipers that bite hard and assuringly.
The 718 Boxster starts at $112,800 plus on-roads. With the options fitted to the test car: the dual-clutch auto, Sport Chrono pack, special exhaust, the 20-inch alloys, carbon interior garnish, torque vectoring, active suspension, GT steering wheel and Porsche emblems embossed in the seats, the price leaps to $148, 380. But when was buying a Porsche motivated by anything other than the heart?
On the road the Boxster is as sharp as a tack, with highly communicative steering and a firm ride that lets you feel everything rushing under its gorgeous body. Power delivery is massive from the onset and never ending, all the way to the top end.
The brilliantly setup chassis makes it so easy to flow the 718 through corners like a pro. Arriving at a corner the huge brakes settle it down and rapidly arrest speed, the paddle shifts change faster than the speed of light, the suspension has it sitting spirit level flat and its torque, combined with a judicious press of the Sports Response button ensures jet-like acceleration.
When you’ve finished playing on the gnarly piece of black top and end up on city streets, the Boxster is so easy to live with every day. The interior is beautifully crafted, the multimedia system easy to use, the seats are comfy and the driving position spot-on. It’s cozy inside but not cramped and the two boots, one at each end of the Boxster, hold a surprising amount.
If all that isn’t enough, dropping the electronically operated soft top sends its sex appeal off the Richter-scale, while still allowing easy conversation.
As you would expect, the Boxster 718 comes crammed full of state of the art safety technologies.
The Porsche 718 Boxster is beautiful to look at and superbly crafted. It enthrals you and makes every time behind the wheel, very special. And frankly, that’s all that matters.