Look around you and consider everything you own or use most often. What do they have in common? Your phones, your microwave, your electric garage door opener; all exist in the name of making your life easier. Cars are no different. They have large touchscreen HMI technology, heated seats, and power tailgates.
The reality is that today’s automobile is not just about driving. In fact, we’re coming to a point in time where that’s one thing we may no longer do in our cars as they’re becoming more about convenience. Some manufacturers excel at building and selling appliances, while others won’t skimp on the features, but will give the driver more importance and more responsibilities.
The new 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster is one of the best cars currently available. Note that my definition of a car has everything to do with how it makes you feel when in the driver’s seat. True, this is Porsche I’m talking about, but Mazda, Volkswagen, Chevy, Subaru, and FCA also build cars that give me immense satisfaction. The thing with the 718 is that it has no shortcomings.
Catering to you
The following is a review of the Boxster, not the Panamera, so the car must be riddled with compromises. Well, you’re wrong if this is what you’re thinking. If you are of sound mind and select the 2-seat roadster, you’ll never want for more. Never, at any time, will you ever think to yourself that you should have purchased car X from brand Y for whatever reason.
The Porsche 718 Boxster looks great, but we spend the vast majority of our time in the cockpit. Starting at just under $80,000, the higher-end 718 Boxster S model is well endowed, although a few options will make it that much greater. For example, the available Power Sport seats are as comfortable as they are supportive. They help provide an excellent driving position that makes you feel as one with the car.
The brand-common centre console has evolved into a cleaner display of controls, now limited to all manners of driving elements and, in the case of the 718 Boxster, roof operation. The centre stack features the large and wonderful new touch-sensitive display. As always, the steering wheel is perfectly shaped for ideal hand positioning. New with the 718 Boxster is the arrival of the drive mode knob on the wheel, which I would have preferred to stay on the console. Room for change and phones is limited in this car, but that’s where both the hidden and open door bins come in handy.
Speaking of handy, the two separate trunks truly make this is a perfect weekend getaway car for two.
Of course, to make the weekend perfect, the best winding roads must be taken. Here is where discovering the 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster’s new powertrains will make the most sense. The big news is that the beloved 6-cylinder engines are no more, but it’s really not as awful as it sounds, trust me.
The base 718 Boxster rolls with a 2.0L turbocharged flat-4 that I mistakenly thought was the S engine when I first test drove the car. When I jumped in an S and savoured its 2.5L turbo mill, my grin immediately grew. The former delivers 300 horsepower, while the latter puts out 350 lovely ponies. Of the many benefits that come with boosting an engine, torque is the greatest. The unit in the 718 Boxster S produces 309 lb-ft from 1,900 rpm all the way to 4,500 rpm.
My $100,000 tester had many options, but the near $3,700 PDK transmission is the one I would hesitate to select the longest. You see, the standard 6-speed manual is incredibly good, fun, and efficient; however, nothing comes close to matching the PDK for performance, especially when the Sport Chrono package is involved. All together, the 718 Boxster S will reach 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds, and five seconds later it will be at 160 km/h. In the end, I’d save my money and row my own gears, but that’s my call.
The available Sport Exhaust is another must. Thanks to it, the 2.5L engine can go from whisper quiet to tuned WRX STI shamming loud. With the Sport Exhaust activated and the drive selector in Sport mode, the rumble made me salivate. Popping off the accelerator in a lower gear will result in delicious noises, as will rapid upshifts.
The nearly flat torque curve translates into strong and sustained acceleration with no real drop in forward momentum, even as torque fades. You’ll want to find out for yourself, many times over.
With all this in mind, it’s important to note that the 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster S is a breeze to drive. If you prefer cruising around, the car will happily oblige. If your plan is to embarrass the guy in the Corvette beside you, it will happily crush his soul. And it’ll do everything in between.
The engines display next to no lag, and while I miss the flat-6’s wail at full clip, my nostalgia quickly dissipates through the first on-ramp. This car will be purchased for cruising, but the fact is that it’s a track car in disguise. And I love that about it.
The brilliance of Porsche engineering
The car’s new power is obvious, but what really makes the 718 Boxster a brilliant automobile is its chassis and impressive ride quality. Investing $2,050 for Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) is the final step in making the Boxster an undeniably great roadster.
As is, the suspension’s calibration mixes comfort with stability with loads of control. With PASM, extremes are met. The week I reviewed the 718 Boxster S, I also had a Jaguar F-PACE. Between the two, the Porsche proved to be more comfortable and forgiving in all driving conditions.
At no point is the 718 Boxster harsh. This is the most important aspect I consider when I say that buying this Porsche presents no compromises. Steering is rapid and responsive, but in a very linear fashion. The ultra-powerful brakes make fun of any speed, while acceleration is a smooth affair. In fact, the exhaust note is the only mark of fanatical excitement provided by the car even when the throttle is crushed against the firewall.
The 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster is great, but then many rivals are impressive, too. The Audi TT comes to mind as the closest alternative, while the revised Mercedes SLC-Class has more of an old-man aura about it.
The $63,900 entry price into the world of the 718 Boxster is well worth it, but odds are you’ll want to personalize the car into your own pinnacle of greatness.