Austin, TX – Since the debut of the Boxster twenty years ago, Porsche is introducing its latest mid-engine iteration with enhanced muscular looks, a boost in power and improved handling attributes.
There will be two models: the Porsche 718 Boxster and 718 Boxster S. The 718 designation pays homage to the flat four-cylinder engines that powered the mid-engine Porsche 718 sports car which consistently won races in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including the famous Targa Florio and Le Mans.
At the heart of the 2017 model lineup is a newly developed, single turbocharged flat four-cylinder engine cylinder with gasoline direct injection and Porsche’s Vario PlusCam. The Boxster’s boost is 19psi (1.3 bar). The 718 Porsche Boxster draws it motive force from a 2.0-liter version that produces 300 horsepower at 6,500 rpm while generating 280 pound feet of torque in a range from 1,950-4,500 rpm. The 718 Porsche Boxster S is propelled by a 2.5-liter version of the same basic engine with gasoline direct injection and variable turbine geometry (VTG). Boost is 16 psi (1.1 bar) that delivers an additional 50 horses (350) at 6,500 rpm while developing 309 pound feet of torque from 1,900-4,500 rpm.
Porsche is the only manufacturer to use VTG technology in gasoline-fueled production models – in the 911 Turbo, the 718 Cayman S and the 718 Boxster S. These new engines develop 35 more horsepower over those of the previous Boxster.
Both Porsche 718 Boxsters are mid-engine in a rear-wheel-drive configuration with the driving force delivered through either a standard 6-speed manual gearbox with a single disc clutch and dual mass flywheel, or an optional 7-speed Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
The new exhaust systems were developed to ensure the delivery of passionate, Porsche-like sounds. Exhaust gases from the four cylinders are merged just before the turbocharger, which is mounted to the engine directly behind the driver’s seat. The single exhaust tract runs past the engine, then branching into two pipes ahead of the transmission, which then run past the transmission to the two rear mufflers.
In the 718 Boxster, the exhaust gases flow through a system with a central single oval tailpipe made of brushed stainless steel, while the 718 Boxster S has round twin tailpipes made of brushed stainless steel. Two central round sport tailpipes available in chrome or black highlight the optional sport exhaust system with an exhaust flap, which is available for all models. The exhaust flap is activated by a button on the center console. The flap opens automatically at an engine speed of approximately 3,500 rpm or more, delivering a deep and sonorous sound.
Even though the 718 Boxster and Boxster S feature new styling features, both are instantly recognizable as Porsches. The front end has been re-sculpted and delivers a wider, more athletic look. The cooling air intakes are significantly larger and serve as a visual representation of the new turbocharged engine generation. The Bi-Xenon headlights have been redesigned sporting two integrated LED daytime running lights, and are now fitted as standard fare. There are two available headlight options, including a Bi-Xenon headlight with an LED high beam plus and a daytime running light module with four LEDs, while a more upscale offering comes as full LED headlights with four-point daytime running lights, which is a first for the mid-engine roadster.
In profile, defining features of the new 718s include new, independently styled fenders and side skirts. Larger air intakes with dual vanes emphasize the car’s dynamicism. The doors no longer have door handle recess covers. New 19-inch wheels are standard on the 718 Boxster S, with 20-inch alloy wheels optionally available.
Out back, the restyled rear fascia of the 718 Boxster models places a focused emphasis on width, with the strip and its integrated Porsche badge placed between the tail lights, which stand out with their three-dimensional LED technology and four-point brake lights.
The cockpit repeats the consistent emphasis of horizontal lines prevalent on the exterior, and is characterized by a higher quality and functionality typical for Porsche. The impressive leather trim features stitching that continues to the storage compartment. With its elevated air vents, the redesigned upper part of the dash panel reflects the three-dimensional exterior design. The lid of the center console has been raised slightly when compared to the previous model providing more comfort. A sport steering wheel in the design of the 918 Spyder measuring 14.8 inches in diameter is standard. A 14.1-inch GT Sport steering wheel is optionally available. Porsche offers multifunction and steering wheel heating as options for all steering wheel versions.
A central element of the new interior layout is the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) unit, which consists of a high-resolution, 7-inch color touchscreen with a high quality glass cover, proximity sensors and multi-touch gesture control. It also includes mobile phone preparation, two SD card readers with single CD/DVD drive, universal audio interface with an 11 GB jukebox and the 110 watt Sound Package Plus. Sound systems from Bose and Burmeister are optionally available.
A navigation module with voice control which makes it easy to input driving destinations is available as an alternative. The navigation module has an improved map display that can show maps two-dimensionally or in perspective. 3D representations are also possible in select regions. The Connect Plus module is available as an extension of the navigation module, enabling simple interfacing of a smartphone to the PCM, wireless Internet access for WiFi devices as well as using online functions such as information navigation services, featuring an LTE telephone module.
The completely retuned suspension improves cornering performance, while the electric steering system, which is adopted from the 911 Turbo, results in a ratio that is 10 percent more direct and on center than before, which not only enhances agility and precision, but also improves maneuverability in challenging roads and track scenarios as well as in normal traffic. Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with a 0.43 inch (10 millimeter) lower ride height is optionally available on both 718 models. The 718 Boxster S may be ordered with the PASM sport chassis featuring a 0.86 inch (20 millimeter) lower ride height, offering a significantly stiffer setting in Sport mode. Using variable torque distribution and a mechanical differential lock at the rear axle, the optional Porsche Torque Vectoring system improves turn-in and traction when entering or exiting a corner.
The 718 Boxster uses the brake system previously used in the Boxster S, with front brake rotors measuring 13 inches (330 millimeters), representing a 0.6 inch increase compared to the previous model. The 718 Boxster S now comes with the new four-piston calipers and thicker brake rotors (34 millimeters instead of 28 millimeters) of the 2017 911 Carrera on the front axle. The Porsche Ceramic Composite brake system (PCCB) with rotors measuring 13.8 inches (350 millimeters) at all four wheels is available as an option. The 718 Boxster models also come standard with the multi-collision braking system.
The Porsche Stability Management system offers a separate mode known as PSM Sport that is activated by briefly pushing the PSM button on the center console when equipped with the optional Sport Chrono Package. PSM Sport differs significantly from the PSM On setting, and is now activated independently of the Driving Mode (Normal/Sport/Sport Plus). When the PSM Sport mode is activated, an indicator in the instrument cluster and the yellow “PSM Off” lamp are lit to inform the driver. The new PSM Sport mode allows drivers to approach the vehicle’s limits more closely on enclosed tracks. Compared to PSM On, the new mode permits considerably larger yaw angles as well as more wheel spin and enables the driver to experience the sports car’s more intense dynamic performance.
My 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster wore an exterior finish of Racing Yellow complemented by a Black interior and Black cloth top. It was equipped with the PDK transmission. The base price was set at $56,000, while the as-tested price came to $79,440.
To the uninitiated, the latest iteration of the Porsche 718 Boxster and Boxster S for 2017 may be thought to be a Porsche 911. It’s not however, it more closely resembles a convertible version of the 2017 Porsche 718 Cayman and Cayman S.
The 718 Boxster and Boxster S are entry-level Porsche roadsters. Entry level is a relative issue, depending upon one’s financial wherewithal. Yes, you can obtain a new base (entry level) Chevrolet Corvette for the same money or even a little less, determined by features and equipment options, but a Porsche is a Porsche and a Corvette is a Corvette. Both are fun to drive, but when it comes to sophistication and finesse, the Porsche reigns supreme.
718 Boxster models are obviously not on the same level as the Porsche 911 Carrera in terms of overall performance in any of its forms, but the Boxsters deliver essentially all the performance that mere mortals can handle. Hell, even accomplished professionals will revel at its potential.
I was able to pilot both the 718 Boxster with the PDK transmission, and a 718 Cayman S with the 6-speed manual gearbox. S models in both body styles provide exhilarating acceleration and braking prowess along with superb handling characteristics and ride stability. But, so do the non-S versions – just not quite as much. There is a badge delete option that eliminates the visible model designation if stealth and deception is to your liking.
The PDK is much more efficient and considerably quicker in either fully automatic mode or paddle shifting than attempting to change gears manually via the six-speed. Let’s hear it for turbocharging – a giant step ahead for the entry 718 Porsches.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster and Boxster S
Base Price: $56,000.
Price as Tested: $79,440.
Engine Type and Size: 2.0-liter single turbocharged flat four-cylinder with Gasoline Direct Injection with Vario PlusCam. 19psi (1.3 bar)-Boxster / 2.5-liter with single turbocharged flat four-cylinder with Gasoline Direct Injection VTG 16 psi (1.1 bar)- Boxster S
Horsepower (bhp): 300 @ 6,500 rpm – 718 Boxster
350 @ 6,500 rpm – 718 Boxster S
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 280 @ 1,950-4,500 rpm – 718 Boxster
309 @ 1,900-4,500 rpm – 718 Boxster S
Transmission: 7-speed Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) automatic with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters- optional / standard – 6-speed manual gearbox with single disc clutch and dual-mass flywheel.
Drive Train: Mid engine / Rear-wheel drive.
Suspension: Front – Lightweight spring-strut – MacPherson type.
Rear – Lightweight MacPherson strut
Brakes: Four-wheel discs vented and perforated front and rear with four-piston aluminum monoblock fixed calipers front and rear, with ABS, Porsche Stability Management (PSM) and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with extended brake functions.
Tires: Yokohama Advan Sport 235/ 35 ZR 18×8” front / 265/ 45 ZR18x9.5” rear mounted on 5-“V”-spoke silver painted alloy wheels
Wheelbase: 97.4 inches
Length Overall: 172.4 inches
Width: 70.9 inches – Boxster with door mirrors – 78.5
inches Boxster S.
Height: 50.4 inches
Curb Weight: 3,010 lbs.
Turning Circle: 36.0 ft.
Fuel Capacity: 14.3 gallons – Boxster / 16.9 gallons Boxster S
EPA Mileage Estimates: 22 mpg city / 29 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.31 – Boxster / 0.32 Boxster S
0 – 60 mph: 4.5 seconds with Sport + Boxster Top track speed – 170 mph/ 4.0 seconds w/S+ Boxster S Top Track Speed 177 mph.