Okay so it’s a facelifted Porsche Boxster, a car we have all become very familiar with since its launch 20 years ago. But there’s a bit more going on here than you might imagine…
Here is the first four-cylinder Porsche since the 968. It’s a boxer engine – the first of a new horizontally-opposed family of downsized (but inevitably turbocharged) power units for both the Boxster and the Cayman. And (GRR particularly loves this) it gets a new moniker: 718 Boxster, which is not only entirely logical in a number-then-name way (911 Carrera, 918 Spyder etc) but also tips its hat to Porsche’s racing heritage. Stirling Moss won with the original 718 F2 car and, after it metamorphosed into Porsche’s first F1 car, Dan Gurney almost won with it too (read Andrew Frankel’s piece on driving the original 718 here).
Both new road 718 and old race 718 are mid-engined and powered by four-pot boxer engines, but there is – inevitably – a world of difference between them thereafter. Apart perhaps from their looks: both 718s are very easy on the eye, the facelifted Boxster appearing fitter than ever in these new pictures released this week ahead of the car’s official public unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show on 1 March.
How different is the new car? Well there’s no mistaking it for a Boxster but a raft of small changes – extra air intakes, new bumpers, new wheels, tweaked wheelarches and side sills – combine to give a sharper look. LED headlights and 20-inch wheels are new options. Inside there are changes to the dashboard and the addition of Porsche’s latest touch screen and infotainment system.
After the newly blown 911 range, the turbo’s hot wind has now reached the Boxster. There are two engines: a 2.0-litre entry Boxster with 300hp (296bhp) and a 2.5-litre for the 718 Boxster S boasting 350hp (345bhp) thanks to the addition of a turbo with variable turbine geometry.
Power is up over the outgoing normally-aspirated six-cylinder models – the old 2.7-litre entry model made do with 265bhp, and while the current 3.8 boasts 375bhp there surely can be no doubts that a GTS version of the new motor won’t be able comfortably to beat that. But Porsche is not talking about that, yet, and nor is it confirming details of the engine line-up in the 718 Cayman – but it’s expected to be identical.
Torquiest Boxster ever? For sure. The 2.0-litre engine gets nearly a quarter more pulling power (at 280 lb ft) than the old 2.7, spread between 1,950 and 4,500rpm. The S gets another 44 lb ft over the same revs. In quickest form with PDK ‘box (a six-speed manual is standard) and Sport Chrono package the 718 Boxster is the best part of a second quicker to 62mph than the outgoing car, at 4.7 seconds, while the S trims that to a brisk 4.2 seconds.
Efficiency as much as performance is at the heart of the new engine and Porsche says the gains are as much as 13 per cent. On the official figures there’s apparently an extra 5mpg available from the new 2.0-litre model, with 40.9mpg now (theoretically) possible.
Porsche says that since 1996 the Boxster has established itself as the definitive mid-engined roadster, and, some disparaging hairdressy-type comments early in its life aside, few would argue with that. It’s a car that just gets better and better in that so-reliable Porsche way. So what can we expect of the 718 Boxster (and Cayman) on the road?
Ambitiously, Porsche says its dynamics follow in the footsteps of the original 718 race car. Certainly it seems it may be more agile – the steering is 10 per cent more direct and for the first time the Boxster S can be had with PASM active suspension management and a 20mm lower ride height. All versions get new suspension tuning and uprated brakes.
That all sounds good, but how will the new little boxer engine sound? We will find that out soon – the new range is available in the UK from the spring, priced from £41,739 or £50,695 for the S.