Here’s why the Porsche 718 Boxster S should be everyone’s first supercar
SINGAPORE — Whether you like the new Porsche 718 Boxster S or not is easy to predict after you answer a few simple questions. Have you driven a Boxster before? How important is raw performance to you? Do you think of an engine as the heart of a car? Are you, as they say, a “purist”?
The interrogation is entirely relevant because this the 718 represents the most serious alteration to the Boxster recipe since, well, ever.
It’s still a mid-engined, two-seater roadster of course, but until now there’s never been a turbo Boxster, nor a four-cylinder one. This one is both.
On paper that’s good news. Both the basic Boxster (a 2.0-litre) and this Boxster S (2.5) have gained a significant amount of oomph as a result of the new, forced-induction engines.
The car you see here has 350 horsepower, far more than you’d expect from the relatively small four-cylinder. Peak torque output, meanwhile, is 420Nm. That translates to a whacking great rush of acceleration, the likes of which no Boxster has ever been capable.
Put your foot down in the 718 Boxster S, and it heaves forward with an urgency that sometimes has the rear tyres scrabbling for traction. Previous Boxsters have never felt particularly fast by sportscar standards, but this one has the sort of instant get-up-and-go that has the potential to whiten your knuckles.
The spec sheet confirms what you’re feeling, too. If you option the Sport Chrono pack, 100km/h takes just 4.2 seconds from standstill now, which is last-gen supercar territory.
If anything, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to give a current-gen supercar driver a damn good scare up a twisty road, too, because the Boxster S still handles beautifully.
The steering’s quicker (thank to a steering rack borrowed from the 911 Turbo) but not so immediate that you worry about stability on the highway, and you can guide the nose into corners with a great, ballsy sense of confidence. It helps that, apart from being scalpel sharp, the steering is also surgically precise.
The brakes are well up to the job of slowing down a speeding Boxster too (unsurprising, since they’re also nicked from a 911), so the rise in horsepower hasn’t upset the car’s cohesiveness. Well, maybe a little. It’s now possible to get on the power a bit too early, a bit too aggressively, and have the tail end wiggle as a result.
Still, if you can’t drive a Boxster S fast, you can’t drive fast. It’s super accessible, matching powerful acceleration with strong brakes and a fluency through corners that together, allow you to get comfortable with speed.
And if you can’t live with a Boxster, then you’d best give up on the idea of a performance car. It doesn’t have a large boot but it does have two small ones, so you can pack enough for a weeklong getaway, and while the cabin only seats two people, it does so in comfort.
That’s comfort by sportscar standards, anyway. The suspension is on the firm side, even on its plushest setting, and there’s an ever-present chatter from behind you, where the engine is doing its thing.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t complain, but there’s no tiptoeing around the fact that the new four-cylinder, while suitably rorty in tone, just doesn’t sound as nice as the old engines. From behind the wheel it’s not that easy to see over your left shoulder, either.
But those, believe it or not, are the main complaints we came up with after spending a day with the 718 Boxster S. Oh wait, one more: the fuel consumption isn’t going to be anywhere near the claim of 7.4L/100km on average (trust me on that one).
Still, that’s not much to grumble about, considering. In fact, there’s a good argument to be made that a Boxster S should be everyone’s first supercar (or pre-supercar choice): it’s fast enough to make your small hairs stand (and occasionally, your circular muscles clench), the handling is forgiving of clumsiness and yet it rewards a dedicated smoothness, and it puts enough compromises (like having two seats) in your way without being the kind of car that tests your physical endurance after half an hour.
As for the 718 iteration of the Boxster S, it’s a superb sportscar by any measure. The only way you won’t fall in love is if you consider yourself some kind of purist who doesn’t think that four-cylinder engines and exotic cars go together, of if you’ve had a Boxster before this and consider it a step backwards somehow, even though it’s faster than ever.
If nothing else, if you were in love with the old Boxster recipe it’s only natural to be suspicious of the new one. The thing to do to get over that wariness is, of course, to try the 718 for yourself. There’s a good chance it will change your mind in roughly 4.2 seconds.
NEED TO KNOW Porsche 718 Boxster S
Engine 2497cc, 16V, flat 4, 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 (as tested)
Fuel efficiency 7.4L/100km
Price $316,588 without COE
Want Boxster thrills for less money? The Mazda MX-5 is your answer