Porsche 718 Boxster: Smaller engine, exceptional sports car
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The Boxster has been the quintessential convertible sports car. In its latest 718 iteration though, the sports car does away with its glorious flat-six cylinder engines and is powered instead by a range of smaller, four-cylinder turbocharged engines. Turbochargers are typically associated with more power and performance, but Porsche is also using it for better efficiency and lower emissions. But has that spoilt the recipe for the perfect sports car?
The first impression isn’t particularly positive. The car feels a bit rough when in idle mode and the engine sound isn’t the smoothest at low speeds. The question, “What has Porsche done?”, does cross our mind. Soon enough, the road opens up and at the first press of the throttle, you’ll realize the acceleration is intense.
If you think of it, a turbocharged, four-cylinder, 2.0-litre petrol engine sounds like something out of an executive sedan, not a Porsche sports car. But before you are up in arms, have a look at the numbers. The small engine makes a strong 300 horsepower and 380Nm torque, figures that compare well with the old Boxster S’ 315hp and 360Nm. Crucially, the 718’s 4.9-second 0-100 kmph time makes it over half a second quicker than the older Boxster S.
As you would have guessed, it’s the turbo and the strong pulling power available from under 2,000 rpm that makes all the difference. Power doesn’t build in a crescendo-like manner, as it did in the old car. It’s a bit unresponsive initially, and then there’s a strong, sustained thrust until about 7,500 rpm. Where the Boxsters, old and new, do differ greatly is in how they sound. The orchestra from the engine comprises boomy notes with pops when you lift off the throttle. As before, the brilliant seven-speed, dual-clutch PDK gearbox ensures you are always in the right gear. It’s super quick in shifts, and ultra-responsive to manual inputs.
Handling is just sublime in the new Boxster, and because you are such an integral part of the experience, it doesn’t intimidate even at high speeds. It can hold through corners. The grip levels are fantastic, the brakes are beautifully calibrated and, importantly, ride quality and ground clearance are fairly good for what is a stiff sports car. The Boxster is a driver’s machine you can use every day.
The seating position is low, but outside visibility is surprisingly good, making it easy to drive. Porsche has updated the cabin on the 718 but the changes are not dramatic. The air-con vents are slightly different, the steering wheel is from the 918 supercar and there’s a new touchscreen that is thankfully part of standard equipment. You will have to spend big for a better sound system or sportier seats but that’s just the reality of doing up your Porsche. The stock seats hold you well but only the driver’s seat gets electric adjust.
Although the basic design is the same as the older Boxster, Porsche says the hood, windscreen and fabric roof (that takes 9.0 seconds to fold/unfold) are the only bits carried over from the older car. However, the bi-xenon headlights with the four-point LED DRLs (daytime running lamps) and larger air intake on the front bumper are the only things that really stand out as new at the front. At the rear, the new LED lights will catch your attention, and the car looks wider due to the dark strip that links the lights.
The best bit is that the smaller engine qualifies the 718 Boxster for tax breaks on imported cars with engines less than 3,000cc. At Rs85.53 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) then, the 718 Boxster is a good Rs20 lakh cheaper than the old Boxster S. The 718 Boxster is an exceptional sports car that will turn any preconceived notions you may have on downsizing and small engines on their head—it’s that good.