Porsche 718 Boxster review
Let’s get one thing straight: the Porsche 718 Boxster is a brilliant sports car. It’s just a shame its four-cylinder engine lacks the charm of the previous model’s six-cylinder.
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What's not so good
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The Porsche Boxster is a sports car that makes it clear to others that life has treated you well. It also happens to be quick, brilliant to drive and even relatively economical on fuel, and is an alternative to a BMW Z4 and Audi TT Roadster.
Those first two points come thanks in part to an engine that sits just behind your head and rear-wheel drive, which just happens to be the format F1 teams use in their race cars too. Add to that brakes that can brush off huge speeds time and time again, plus suspension that keeps the car almost completely flat, and there aren’t many convertibles that can keep up with a Boxster in bends.
Even the entry-level model has a 300hp 2.0-litre engine that can hurl the car from 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds. The Boxster S meanwhile, has a 2.5-litre engine and 350hp, dropping that time down to just 4.6 seconds while still returning claimed fuel economy of 35mpg. There’s also a T model with the same power as the entry-level car, but has numerous performance options added, while the range-topping GTS gets the 2.5 boosted to 365hp.
But enthusiasts will miss the characterful howl of the old model’s six-cylinder engine – the latest version sounds pretty ordinary and putting the roof down (which takes around 10 seconds) doesn’t solve the problem. And while it’s more fuel efficient than the engines in alternative sports cars, in the real world it doesn’t actually save you much fuel over the Boxster’s old six-cylinder.
You can’t knock the 718 for the way it drives. It goes like a stabbed rat and is so much fun to drive hard around bends. It’s just that engine – six cylinders will always be better than four.
On the plus side, the Boxster’s interior looks better than ever with plastic quality that makes the Alfa Romeo and Lotus look pretty shameful. You can choose from a variety of seat styles, upholstery and trim finishes that let you get everything looking and feeling exactly how you want, although options are not cheap.
‘Practical’ wouldn’t be a word you would use to describe the interior, but for a two-seater sports car it’s not terrible. The two seats you do get are spacious and the range of adjustability offered by both the steering wheel and driver’s seat make getting comfortable behind the wheel simple. You also get 280 litres of luggage capacity (about what you’d get in a Ford Fiesta) split almost equally between front and rear boots.
Equipment includes a colourful 7-inch satellite navigation screen, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that allows you to pair your compatible smartphone and use many of its apps. Porsches sell in too low a volume for Euro NCAP to crash-test them, but they come with the usual assortment of airbags and stability control that should lower the chances a crash ever happening.
Expensive options such as adaptive dampers – which let you adjust the suspension to be firm and sporty or soft and comfortable – and a PDK automatic gearbox make the Boxster an even better all-rounder, if you’re prepared to stump up the cash.
The Porsche 718 Boxster is a have-your-cake-and-eat-it type of a car, then. It doesn’t ask you to make too many compromises, and when the right road presents itself there aren’t many cars you’d rather be in. If you’re convinced, make sure to check out our lease deals.
Nobody buys a sports car for its space and practicality, but the Boxster puts on a good show. That said, there isn’t much room for your odds and ends inside.
I like the fact that Porsche quotes its steering wheel sizes for keen drivers. The standard sport wheel is 375mm, but you can have an optional 360mm GT sport wheel if you want.
Even the Boxster’s standard sports seats get electric adjustment on the backrest, while their manual forwards and backwards is simple to use and extends a decent distance. The manual steering wheel adjustment is also very generous.
It’s possible to upgrade your sports seats to include more electric adjustment, or go for super-sporty bucket seats that keep you locked in position, but are less forgiving
You sit low down in a sporty driving position, yet the dashboard isn’t set too high, nor the window line, so seeing out is actually very easy to the front and side. Space for two people is very good, with room to stretch out and no chance of rubbing shoulders, while with the roof closed there’s no danger of even very tall people complaining about headroom.
There’s very little to annoy you about the Boxster’s cabin, save its storage space.
It’s a sports car so you’re not expecting MPV levels of storage, but the glove box is small, as is the cubby under an armrest between the seats and the door bins are good for a stick of celery, but not much else.
You’ll find a USB socket underneath the central armrest and another along with a 12v socket in the glovebox. Always handy to be able to charge your gloves easily, eh.
The Porsche 718 Boxster’s boot is 275 litres, but split across a front and back boot. That’s only slightly less in total than a Z4 or Audi TT, but clearly less practical. There’s also a small space behind the seats for throwing a coat or small soft bag.
There aren’t many practical features save for a small light in the boot compartment, and a hook for a coat or suit behind the seats. Ultimately, nobody buying a Boxster will be looking for masses of space, but you’ll be able to squeeze a couple of soft weekend bags in both the front and back.
Don’t expect to bring a pushchair, though, and a set of golf clubs will have to sit on the passenger seat.
This is what the Boxster was built to do and it does it very well indeed. Both its performance and the way it goes around corners are superb, but its engine noise is less so.
They might sound awful and use only slightly less fuel than their larger predecessors, but there’s no denying Porsche’s four-cylinder engines are extremely strong
There’s a choice of two engines, depending on which model you go for.
The entry-level model has a 300hp 2.0-litre engine that can hurl the car from 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds. The Boxster S meanwhile, has a 2.5-litre engine and 350hp, dropping that time down to just 4.6 seconds while still returning claimed fuel economy of 35mpg.
There’s also a T model with the same power as the entry-level car, but that has numerous performance options added, while the range-topping GTS gets the 2.5 boosted to 365hp and the full suite of Porsche driving tech for the most visceral experience.
The Boxster feels firm but well controlled in town over bumps. It certainly never feels outright uncomfortable, although a BMW Z4 and Audi TT Roadster are slightly more forgiving. Its brakes aren’t grabby and Porsche’s manual gearbox is one of the best around. That goes for its auto gearbox, too, which is smooth and responds to manual changes very quickly.
Porsche offers some of the best steering around – the Boxster’s is quite heavy but very precise and tells you exactly what the front wheels are up to. There’s a huge amount of grip, so it feels unshakable in corners.
Its stability systems don’t intrude much at all, and there’s also a Sport setting which allows more slip if necessary. You can also switch it off if you fancy your skills in the right environment. Ultimately, the Boxster is the best amongst its peers at going around corners, staying extremely flat and proving great fun when exploring its limits
And the Boxster also feels very planted at high speed on the motorway, never wandering about in its lane. There is some road noise from its large big wheels through its cloth roof but wind noise is well contained.
On the subject of its roof, it can be opened in around 10 seconds up to around 31mph, and once it’s down those onboard are protected well, even at 70mph on the motorway.
The Boxster’s interior feature Porsche’s typical classy touches and there’s loads of space for two people to stretch out. Storage is stingy, though, and its infotainment now feels fairly old.