You see, while I love a convertible as much as the next person for the image they present, that wind-in-your-hair feeling et cetera, they tend not to be the dynamic alternative to their coupe siblings. After all, cutting off the top of a car means cutting out a good portion of its structure and you need to make up for that by adding chassis stiffener, crossmembers in the firewalls and so on. You feel more vibrations, more chassis flex, more squeaks and rattles. Mustangs, Camaros and yes, even 911s, suffer from the affliction.
Here's the thing, though. If you’re developed from the ground-up as a convertible you can build all that in from the get-go – and then you can add trick stuff like active drivetrain mounts. What those do is take the heaviest parts of a car – engine, transmission, in other words the mass that the driver and tires and suspension all have to work to contain - and neutralize its effects. Just a little, just enough to lessen the vibrations that rob a car of its solidity and its performance qualities.
With the Boxster GTS, you really do feel like you’re piloting one solid as-one piece of machinery that makes no excuses, that rewards confident steering and throttle inputs with whip-snap response and a game attitude to spear you down your favourite road – or track – with gumption, with panache, with confidence. How this car can make it seem like it’s tapped directly into your cerebral cortex is a feeling few others out there can replicate.
A quick note about the transmission: traditionally for a car like this, the manual would be the obvious choice. It’s better for driver involvement, you get a higher top speed (not that you’ll ever reach it) and the 718’s shift linkage is one of the best in the biz. Plus, you save yourself the $4,250 required to get the PDK auto. However, the PDK provides a faster 0-100 km/h time and is incredibly responsive so the choice isn’t quite as black-and-white as you might think.
Speaking of panache, there’s plenty of it on the styling front here, too. You get those fantastically dark 20-inch wheels as standard, which are made to look even more eye-catching if you select the ceramic brakes and their yellow calipers. Which, along with the PDK transmission, comprise two-thirds of the performance options you can select for the GTS.
Those wheels manage to ground the GTS even more – as if it needed it, what with its lower ride height and just its overall shape, which is muscular but European in all the right ways. The best way to describe the design of the car is how proportional it is. From the angle of the windshield, to the ducktail-like rear spoiler, to the rear diffuser and its two fat tailpipes, to the side intakes and low-profile front splitter, the GTS is an example of what a modern sports car should look like.
There was a time where the Boxster, admittedly, was kind of the ugly stepchild of the Porsche lineup – even when the Cayenne arrived, it couldn’t fully shirk that stigma – but that was then. This is now, we’re four generations in and it may have even eclipsed the 911 cabrio when it comes to style.
Yes, there are shortcomings. We still have Porsche’s older-generation infotainment system on board, and it’s nowhere near as slick as the newer system. The buttons around it are small and somewhat finicky, while the auto shift lever is big and somewhat ugly. The paddle shifters are crafted from cheap plastic not entirely befitting the marque (something a little more substantial crafted from, say, carbon fibre would be welcome) and we also have the weird, flimsy dash-mounted cupholders that look like afterthoughts. At least they retract entirely from view, which hides the ugly and preserves precious room. Indeed, while Porsche’s sports cars – the 911, the Boxster – have grown over the years, their cockpits are still snug places to sit and there’s only a select amount of real estate for extraneous pieces like cupholders.
A cupholder extraneous? Heck yes. These are driver’s sports cars, they are not grand tourers and the 718 GTS is probably the purest example of that in a pond full of purity over at Porsche. Enjoy your caramel macchiato on the patio at the end of the drive, preferably with your 718 GTS in sight.
Perfection in car form? It’s up there. Achingly close.
Ultra-precise chassis dynamics
We like less
Some plasticky bits
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Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible
Mercedes-AMG C 63 Convertible