The Porsche Boxster has long been the benchmark in the sports roadster sector - and still is in this latest turbocharged '718 Boxster' guise. It's more powerful, more efficient, sharper to drive and better looking. What's not to like?
The Porsche Boxster's reputation as a driver's car has been burnished with each successive generation and this improved third generation variant appears to offer a useful step forward in this '718' form. Much has changed on the engine front. The entry level unit has been downsized to a 2.0-litre unit, but thanks to the addition of turbocharging, the good news is that it generates 35bhp more than the old 2.7-litre lump, managing a hearty 300bhp, which is much more than the original Boxster S. The new '718 Boxster S' offers a 2.5-litre capacity (down from 3.4) but the powerplant is now good for 350bhp (up from 315bhp).
A six-speed manual is fitted as standard, although the optional seven-speed PDK double clutch gearbox is sure to be popular. This gets revised software for quicker and smoother shifts. With the optional PDK gearbox, this improved '718 Boxster' will hit 62mph in a claimed 4.7s (nearly a second quicker than before and quicker than the old Boxster S), with the '718 Boxster S' managing to knock over the benchmark sprint in just 4.2s.
Handling-wise, the re-tuned chassis enhances cornering performance and the electro-mechanical power steering system is configured to be 10% more direct. 'Porsche Active Suspension Management' is an option and 'S' buyers can specify an even more focused 'Sport Chassis'. Plus, there's the usual 'Sport Chrono Package' option with its various selectable driving mode settings that now include a 'Sport Response' button for brief extra engine responsiveness when you need it.
The 718 Boxster has small but subtle differences over its predecessor, the front featuring a wider and more purposeful appearance, with larger cooling air intakes referencing the new turbocharged engine beating within. The nose is completed by restyled Bi-Xenon headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights. In profile, identifying features include independently-styled wheel arches and side sills. Larger air inlet panels with two fins further emphasise the car's dynamic look. The doors are now designed without door handle recess covers.
The rear of the 718 Boxster has been redesigned, characterized by a much wider appearance - emphasized by the accent strip with its integrated 'Porsche' badge between the tail lights. The tail lights have been restyled too and are distinguished by three-dimensional LED technology and four-point brake lights.
Build quality looks better than ever from this car, these days built entirely in-house at Zuffenhausen rather than being contracted out to Valmet in Finland as many early Boxsters were. The key interior styling feature is a gently angled centre stack that houses many of the minor controls and the gear shifter, reminiscent in design to that found on the iconic Carrera GT supercar. The lightweight fully electric hood dispenses with a compartment lid for the convertible top when stowed.
It's hard to countenance now, but the Boxster wasn't an instant hit for Porsche. Many saw the original 204bhp 2.5-litre car as being an overly watered-down facsimile of what a proper Porsche should be. How times have changed. As the mainstream 911 model and its market has matured, the Boxster, and its sibling coupe model, the Cayman, has increasingly come to definitively represent the essence of the company's know how for a new generation of buyers. This latest '718 Boxster' model only underscores that fact - to the extent that many buyers will question why you'd pay a big premium for an open topped 911. The marginal benefit of a vestigial pair of rear seats?
Horses for courses you may rightly say, none of which detracts from the fact that Porsche has excelled itself in improving this latest Boxster. The last model bowed out while still comfortably at the top of its game with rivals scratching around for ways to get close. I have a suspicion that it'll be a similar story when this version finally gets pensioned off.Click here to find out more about our Porsche 718 Boxster range