- Published: Tuesday, 26 April 2016 09:07
Why ‘718’? For the answer you have to look much further back in time, because it references the petite, race-winning 718 RSK, and the 718 RS 60 Spyder that evolved from that car in the 1960s. Like the Boxster, those lightweight cars were powered by a horizontally-opposed (also known as ‘boxer’) four-cylinder engine, mounted just ahead of the rear axle.
Every model up to the most recent type 981 since the launch of the first type 986 Boxster has been powered by a naturally-aspirated flat-six. Like the type 991.2 911 that sees service of a biturbo 3.0-litre flat-six (from the naturally-aspirated 3.6- and 3.8-litre flat-sixes), the 718 Boxster has been rebooted and features a downsized 2.0-litre for the regular Boxster and 2.5-litre for the Boxster S, both in a flat-four flavour.
We see what Porsche is trying to do by appending ‘718’ to the Boxster’s nomenclature, but ‘718’ doesn’t quite roll off our tongues in the same way as ‘911’, which has enjoyed over 50 years of wearing it in. Newcomer model snobs and those not really clued into cars tend to regard models like the Cayman and Boxster as ‘entry-level’ and/or in the case of the latter, ‘girlie’ cars, especially when compared to any 911.
The 718 Boxster S is lower, wider and decidedly more purposeful-looking than its predecessor, and could never be accused of looking girly. The rear has been restyled to give the car a stronger presence, and has an accent strip with ‘Porsche’ stamped authoritatively between the tail-lights.
The Boxster S 350hp power output entails a gain of 35hp, and all that oomph means the 100km/h sprint from standstill comes up in just 4.2 seconds, but that’s with the PDK gearbox and optional Sport Chrono package (to unlock the Sport+ mode). A key point lies in the power delivery of the S’s engine, as its turbo features VTG (variable turbine geometry), just like the 911 Turbo (and that’s with a big ‘T’, as opposed to the regular biturbo Carrera models). This helps it to spool up eagerly from under 2000rpm, and the engine will happily pull to its 7500rpm redline without the breathlessness further up the rev-band that accompanies some turbocharged engines. Truth be told, we found the 718 Boxster S to combine the best of both the turbocharged, as well as naturally-aspirated worlds. As you twirl the steering wheel enthusiastically, the engine works with you all the way to the redline, with the smooth power delivery of a naturally-aspirated engine.
Like the new 911, the 718 has a selector knob on the steering wheel to toggle between drive modes. On cars with the optional Sport Chrono package, it comes with a Sport Response button. Press it and you get a 20-second boost of maximum power, which makes for imperious overtaking. With its newfound performance, the Boxster S also features beefed up brakes that are adapted from the 911 Carrera, and the chassis has been tweaked to give it even sharper handling with added stability.
In a straight-line, there are certainly faster cars but the reality is, not many are quite as engaging. The drive is invigorating, since the balance of the mid-rear configuration is more natural to man-handle around the corners. The pace is fast, but not frenetic, thanks to the engine’s broad band of turbo-thumping performance, so one can gamely keep the engine on boil nat-asp style. This is a scarcely contested segment since the last convincing rival was probably the Z4 M Coupe/Roadster – nothing else comes quite as close to offering the same blend of visceral performance with premium appointments. In fact, at this price point it has practically no competitors. For now, literally nothing comes close to the new Boxsters.
Porsche 718 Boxster S
Engine 2,497cc, 24V, flat-6, turbocharged
Power 350bhp at 6500rpm
Torque 420Nm at 1900-4500rpm
Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch
Top Speed 285km/h
0-100km/h 4.2 seconds (Sport+)
Fuel efficiency 7.3L/100km
Price from S$316,588 w/o COE
Availability H1 2016