Stuttgart, Germany - The 718 Boxster/Cayman family is about to get a little bigger. Not wanting to let the four-cylinder models get overshadowed by the recent announcement of the Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder twins, Porsche has applied its “T” – or “touring” – treatment to the 4-cylinder turbo models of both the Cayman and Boxster. It’s not coming to Canada for a little while – that’s why we’re over here in Germany to drive it – but Canadian Porsche dealers have opened their order books and it will be arriving, possibly as soon as early next year as a 2020 model.
Like last year’s 911T, the 718T models are all about providing drivers with the tools they need to best experience the drive of their car.
That’s why the T models come standard with the Sport Chrono package, Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV), a mechanical rear differential, 20 mm lower ride height, shorter throw shift lever and weight-saving measures such as nylon door pull straps, no infotainment system (which will probably have to be added for Canada, where backup cameras are mandated for all vehicles) and a 6-speed manual transmission. You can add the dual-clutch PDK unit, but after spending time with the manual, there’s no chance we’d have it any other way.
“But the auto is so much better as a daily driver!” you say. That may be so, but a car this specialized isn’t likely to be a daily driver. The suspension is a little on the firm side for city use, and when you lose stuff like the infotainment system, well, let’s just say in this car you’ll be focusing on something else.
With the Boxster T, that something else is the drive. For a car like this, city streets are useful only insofar as they permit you to make your way out to your favourite mountainous driving roads.
It doesn’t matter that the power figure – 300 hp and 270 lb-ft – is the same as it is in the Boxster, and it doesn’t matter that the only real stylistic additions are those wheels and a few graphics. As soon as you sit in that seat, reach for the perfectly-placed, Alcantara-covered steering wheel and shift lever and look out through the pontoon-like front fenders, nothing else really matters.
Twist the key – no push-button start here – and let that turbo bark to life (which happens with a much louder tone – and a backfire or two – when in the Sport or Sport+ drive modes), nothing matters more than attacking the ribbon of tarmac ahead of you.
Since the Boxster T runs on a turbo motor, you don’t really get a real hit of power until about the 3,000 RPM mark but once there, the T takes on a whole different attitude as it sprints forward on a generous heave of torque, asking you to hold on tight as it does so. You’ll want to do so, letting go only to grab the next cog with the ultra-crisp short-throw shifter. I’ve always felt the Mazda MX-5 has the best lever action available today and while it still might, the example on the Boxster T comes pretty darn close. Hence my “stay away from PDK” spot of advice.
Once you’ve started to jive with the powertrain and perfected your shift-points, it comes time to start to focus on the additions to the T package, that is to say the weight savings and standard fitment of active transmission mounts. Those prevent the mass of the transmission from upsetting the balance of the car, allowing you to carve your corners with precision and speed.
Which you will do. the Boxster was already tractable, but this brings things to a whole other level. There is nothing you can do to upset it; it just goes where you point it, the Pirelli P Zeros beneath you grabbing hunks of tarmac in their tread and never letting you get off-line, never giving up the ghost under hard braking or aggressive corner exits. Sure, you’ll likely get some tail wagging in damper situations, but I detected very little slip here on German tarmac warmed by consecutive days of 30-degree-plus temperatures. A deterrent for some? Maybe, but you can always fully deactivate the traction control system if you feel the need to get your oversteer on.
And I’m sure there are plenty of people that would like to do that, that feel they would never buy a RWD sports car if they couldn’t slide it to their heart’s content. That’s fine for them, but I’m fairly certain that a few minutes in one of the purest Porsches available today would make believers out of them, too. After all, if the Porsche Boxster T can’t bring out the driving purist out in you, then nothing will and you may be in the wrong line of work.
Look for pricing details for both the Cayman T and Boxster T closer to their arrival in Canada, but expect them to fall somewhere between the 718 Boxster/Cayman and 718 Boxster S/Cayman S.