Hubert Burda Media

Test Drive: Porsche 718 Boxster S

Aside from a fanciful new prefix, the Boxster has also been given the heart of a lion. 

First, a quick history lesson on Porsche. The German marque, as motorheads would know, has a deep history in racing. And one of its iconic race cars from those glorious times is the 718, a mid-engine racer, which claimed over 1,000 victories worldwide from Sebring, to Targa Florio, to Le Mans in the 1960s.

So when Porsche decided to launch its latest generation of the popular Boxster, it saw fit to pay tribute to that race legend. And voila! The well-loved convertible now possesses a winning prefix: 718 Boxster and 718 Boxster S.

A change of name doesn’t mean it’s no longer the same two-seater, mid-engine roadster the world knows — it’s simply been boosted with the fighting spirit of the victorious 718 racer.

Previous Boxsters were fitted with bigger naturally aspirated six-cylinder engines. In the 2012 versions, the 2.7-litre iteration powered up to 265bhp, while the 3.4-litre unit delivered 315bhp. This time around, the new 718s sport newly developed flat-fours that are turbocharged for extra punch. And even though engine size is now smaller, the base two-litre standard produces 300bhp, while its sportier 2.5-litre sister (which I drive) hits a maximum of 350bhp. Clearly, bigger isn’t necessarily better; a smaller engine can be feistier.

On paper, maximum torque on the S version is at 420Nm, almost twice that of the preceding model. This means stepping on the gas will reap a greater throttle response and a rush of acceleration that will excite adrenaline junkies. Which makes this car easier to take on city streets, especially in fast-paced ones like ours where drivers are less than forgiving if you’re slow to leave a traffic junction.

Speed is, of course, guaranteed. On the 718 Boxster S, zero to 100km/h is done in just 4.4 seconds, which is 0.6 seconds faster than its predecessor. Opt for the Sport Chrono Package and it’ll shave off another 0.2 seconds. Add that to the fact that the car’s steering is agile and light — thanks to an electromechanically steering system adopted from the 911 Turbo — that means it takes on sharp corners with ease, stability and confidence. Coupled with responsive brakes and impressive suspension, this sports car is one that’s easy to handle for all types of drivers, even if it’s your first experience with a fast car.

As before, the new Boxster is equipped with two trunks — traditionally the selling point which has appealed particularly to ladies in need of a fast ride and boot space. Here, each storage can fit at least a check-in luggage, which is a luxury for most performance cars. This makes it a great ride for that weekend getaway with your significant other, especially since the roadster sits only two — but very comfortably.

Aesthetics of the 718s still preserve the recognisable Boxster silhouette, but there have been tweaks made for style and aerodynamics. The front is now broader, thanks to horizontally straked air intakes, with the sides designed with large wheel arches and contoured doors to purposefully direct headwind into the air intakes for the new turbocharged engines. Similar to the front, the rear is defined by a solid accent trim that connects the taillights, adding width and a self-assured dynamism to the overall look.

Though many do hail the way the car hugs the ground, as a female with dresses and skirts in my wardrobe, I have a gripe — it makes getting in and out quite an unglamorous sight compared to its 911 counterparts. But that, I must emphasise, is my only complaint. Drive-wise, it is an exciting one.

Purists may also find that the the new-generation engines don’t growl as sonorously as the old six-cylinders and that perhaps is true. But surely it more than makes up for it with a more robust driving experience. Give the car a go and it’ll probably change your mind in under five seconds.

 

PORSCHE 718 BOXSTER S

Engine: 2,497cc, 16 valves, flat-four,  turbocharged

Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch with manual select

Max power: 350bhp @ 6,500rpm

Max torque: 420Nm @ 1,900-4,500rpm

Max speed: 285km/h

Acceleration: 0-100km/h in 4.4 seconds
(4.2 seconds with Sport Chrono Package)

Combined fuel consumption: 7.4L per 100km

CO2 emission: 169g/km

Kerb weight: 1,695kg