2017 Porsche 718 Boxster essentials: Don't fear the four
What is it: A convertible sports car from Stuttgart, but now with a turbocharged flat-four instead of a naturally aspirated flat-six.
Key Competitors: Jaguar F-Type convertible, Chevy Corvette convertible, Alfa Romeo 4C
Base Price: $57,050 As-Tested Price: $67,320
Highlights: The non-S Boxster 718 delivers 300 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque from its turbocharged flat-four. A six-speed manual sends power to the rear wheels.
The 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster has a restyled interior with a new Porsche Communication Management as standard.
Our Opinions: When we talk about pure roadster driving experiences, the Mazda Miata MX-5 comes to mind first, but the Porsche 718 Boxster is the next thought. The driving experience is almost as pure, but it’s far faster, and the steering is better, tighter, and the sound is way more intoxicating.
I found I needed to keep it in sport mode to get the feeling I was looking for on acceleration. It feels a teeny bit sluggish off the line in normal, but it really heats up at 3,500 rpm in either mode. Redline is relatively high at 7,500, which is when the turbo-four sounds the best.
Like the 911, Porsche kept the “flat-engine” sound loud, though it doesn’t sound as crunchy and mechanical at slow speeds. The brakes are stiff, easy to modulate and perfect, but the clutch pedal is a little weird and also very stiff. As opposed to something like the MX-5 where the catch point is low and the engagement area is tiny, our Boxster’s catch point was near the top of the stroke with a couple inches of travel before it fully engages. When I switched back from sport to normal, I almost stalled it out. Natalie Neff also drove it; she thought it was the throttle tip-in that was a little wonky, not the clutch.
Regardless, taking this car for a cruise at night with the top down is one of the most special forms of motoring. It clears your head, it relieves stress and brings back those great memories of just being 16 and driving around for no reason. I’m a hardtop man — better for racing — but there will always be room for a convertible like this in my garage.
–-Jake Lingeman, road test editor
OTHER VOICES: This is my first drive in the turbo-four Boxster. It could be the ideal sports car for me. It’s equipped basically as I like it, without a bunch of extra stuff. The price reflects that — I remember having a Boxster in here a few years ago with a sticker price tickling $100K. This is far more acceptable. It’s also no mere facelift. In addition to the engine, Porsche says everything is new. If I remember from our site, only the front and rear decklids and the fabric top carry over.
Anyway, driving it is as delightful as ever. Build quality remains superb (and the new touchscreen is MUCH better) and handling balance is beautiful, as beautiful as I remember. The steering is really quick and the car’s overall agility is off-the-charts high.
The big news, of course, is the four cylinder: I’ve read plenty of reviews whining about how these new fours don’t sound as good as the outgoing six. Not sure I agree. Unless I hear an old flat-six and then immediately hear this car, I don’t think it’s a huge deal. Firing it up, OK maybe it’s not as barky as the six, but it sounds fine to me, again, in isolation.
Performance-wise, I do notice some turbo lag, though the engine gets with the program just fine at 3,500 rpm and above, and it sounds good to my ear at those revs. Switching to sport mode livens things up considerably. The Boxster S has more hp and more midrange torque, so I’d like to try one of those.
Overall, though, I dig it.
–-Wes Raynal, editor
The 718 Boxster – when equipped with PDK and the Sport Chrono Package – sprints from zero to 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds (0.7 seconds faster than the previous model).
Options: 19-inch wheels ($1,970); Porsche Active Suspension Management ($1,790); navigation module for PCM ($1,730); Porsche Torque Vectoring ($1,320); Porsche Connect Plus ($1,300); sport seats ($800); auto-dimming mirrors ($690); seat heating ($530); extended range fuel tank ($140)
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $57,050
As Tested Price: $67,320
Powertrain: 2.0-liter DOHC turbocharged H4, RWD, six-speed manual
Output: 300 hp @ 6,500 rpm; 280 lb-ft @ 1,950 rpm
Curb Weight: 2,944 lb
Fuel Economy: 21/28/24 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Pros: Less than 3,000 pounds!
Cons: Clutch takeup could be quicker and lower