Back in the roadster-obsessed 90s, Porsche reached out to a new breed of buyer with an entry level roadster it called the Boxster. Twenty years after that introduction, the Boxster is entering a new generation, getting a name tweak to "718 Boxster" and joining the 911 in gaining some serious turbocharging.
What's in a name? For the new 718 Boxster (and upcoming 718 Cayman), a little bit of history and a little hint at engine size. Porsche pulls the 718 designation out of the long retirement it enjoyed since adorning the flat four-powered race cars of the late 1950s and early 60s. Gone is the Boxster's traditional six-cylinder engine, replaced by flat-four turbo power.
The base Boxster has a 2.0-liter turbo boxer with 300 hp (224 kW) and 280 lb-ft (380 Nm) of torque. The Boxster S, meanwhile, packs a 2.5-liter turbo four with 350 hp (261 kW) and 309 lb-ft (419 Nm). Each engine is mated to a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional PDK with fuel-saving virtual gears.
A quick comparison with the older Boxster's spec sheet shows that the 718 has more of everything drivers want: 35 extra horses on each model, 73 extra lb-ft for the Boxster and 43 extra lb-ft for the Boxster S. Porsche also expects drivers to see a fuel economy bump of up to 14 percent on the NEDC. Not a bad argument for going small and turbo.
To help Boxster drivers make the best use of the new turbo power, Porsche has retuned the suspension and electric steering and upgraded the brakes. It promises better cornering and maneuverability for an enhanced drive, be it at the track, on the open highway or in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Retuned optional Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) adds a customizable ride to further improve driving performance.
With all its upgrades and tweaks, it's no surprise that the new Boxster is faster. When equipped with the PDK and Sport Chrono Package options, the standard 300-hp Boxster dashes from 0 to 60 mph (96.5 km/h) in 4.5 seconds, which is 0.7 seconds quicker than the outgoing Boxster. Porsche says the Boxster S with PDK and Sport Chrono is a half-second quicker than its previous-gen counterpart, making the trip in 4 seconds flat. Top speeds increase to 170 mph (274 km/h) for the Boxster and 177 mph (285km/h) for the Boxster S.
Porsche has strived to keep the new Boxster immediately recognizable while giving it enough of a touch-up to warrant an all-new model name. The naked eye will find more similarities than differences when comparing new Boxster with old, but there are some modest alterations.
Porsche says that it's revised every body panel, save for the luggage compartment lids, windshield and convertible top, putting an emphasis on width in the front and rear fascia designs. The stretched intakes take care of this emphasis in front, and the thin, connected LED taillight design handles it in back. The headlights also appear a bit trimmer and feature a redesigned Bi-Xenon and LED running lamp configuration. LED headlights with four-point running lamps are available as an option. Overall, the new Boxster looks just a touch svelter and lighter.
Other styling changes include a new side sill design, double-finned side inlets, new doors without handle recess covers, and new standard 19-in Boxster S wheels.
The interior receives a new instrument panel design and gets the latest generation of the touchscreen-based Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system as standard. The navigation and Connect Plus modules are available optionally.
The new 718 models will find their way to US dealerships by late June, with the 718 Boxster to start at US$57,050 and the 718 Boxster S at $69,450, after $1,050 destination charge.