Go Topless!!

Go Topless!!

We test drive the new Porsche 718 Boxster S

Driving a Porsche is one thing, Driving a Porsche that allows you to have the top down, so people can stare at you, is quite another - especially when it’s the new Porsche 718! A new designation, a slightly new shape and above all a new engine. The sound it makes may not be quite as aggressive as its predecessor but the drivability of this model allows you to forgive all its sins, and show off till your heart’s content.

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The Engine Bit

The 2.5’s larger turbo runs up to 14.5 psi of boost, giving the 350-hp Boxster S a substantial 50 horsepower and 29 lb-ft torque advantage over the 2.0-liter car, whose smaller turbo nonetheless offers up to 20.3 psi of pressure. Both engines produce peak torque below 2000 rpm—280 lb-ft at 1950 rpm for the 2.0-liter, and 309 at 1900 for the 2.5, and in each case the full twist is available through 4500 rpm before gently tapering off. Peak horsepower arrives at 6500 rpm for both engines, which rev to 7500 rpm.

The drive

The 718 we drove was equipped with Porsche’s Sport Chrono package, which now includes a drive-mode switch on the steering wheel for switching between Normal, Sport, and Sport Plus settings. A “Sport Response” button on the drive-mode dial calls up the powertrain’s Sport Plus calibration for 20 seconds, to allow for example, an aggressive passing maneuver, but it doesn’t add any output or activate an overboost function. Like the turbocharged six in the new 911 Carrera models, the 718’s fours are close to lag-free and only slightly less responsive than the non-turbo sixes they replace. They’re also incredibly smooth for four-pot engines, thanks to inherent balance and standard vacuum-activated engine mounts that loosen at idle and gradually stiffen as speeds increase for more connected driveline sensations. Thankfully neither 718 variants sound like a boy racing Subaru, both models emit a noise that’s similar to the 91’s flat-six’s mechanical symphony. Down an octave or two, the sound is purposeful and raspy—but that’s more to do with the optional dual-mode sports exhaust.

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The Look

The 718 is a comprehensive update, rather than an entirely new automobile. Beyond the numbers on the tail, you can only really tell a 718 Boxster from its predecessor by the strip between the taillights in the rear. The front-end revision is subtler, with the biggest change being the larger, horizontally straked lower air intakes. LED headlights with Porsche’s now-signature four-point DRLs are also an option. Although the overall look is only evolutionary, Porsche claims that every panel apart from the bonnet and boot lid have been changed.

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The Luxury

1. Seat comfort is outstanding, and the driver’s perch places you ideally for a good working relationship with the controls.

2. Porsche’s ramplike center console makes no allowance for interior stowage, which is the only real downside to the otherwise well-turned-out cabin.

3. The fabric top can be raised or lowered while driving at speeds up to 70 kph, and wind buffeting is minimal.

4. The Boxster’s front and rear trunks combine to easily swallow a weekend’s worth of luggage for two. With 275 litres of combined storage.

5. Porsche has also cut the diameter of the standard steering wheel to 375mm, and there isn’t a single button, dial or knob anywhere on it.

6. The 718 Boxster comes with Porsche Communication Management as standard, bringing with it mobile phone preparation and an audio interface, and the new touchscreen interface, is fine-looking and very navigable.

7. Porsche’s Sound Package Plus, includes
a sound system of six speakers and 110 watts of power.

8. The top-level audio set-up is by Burmester and offers surround sound, 821 watts of power and a 300-watt subwoofer integrated into the vehicle body. Expect the cheaper Bose audio set-up to be the most popular.

New market Position

If you too are a little shocked with the Boxster S’s new BHD 25,700 price tag bumped up to BHD 32,070 in the model we drove, let us explain. That figure is reflective of the Boxster’s new market position above the Cayman in the Porsche hierarchy, but don’t get too excited, this does not mean that the Cayman will see a price drop. The new prefix, 718, evoking four-cylinder race cars from Porsche’s past, signals that this is an entirely new creature, hence a few extra BD’s.

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The Verdict

The entry-level Boxster does not sound or accelerate or inspire as it once did. But it is faster in the real world, more efficient, better inside and has better handling than ever before.

If your looking for a car that embodies both the status that comes with owning a sports car, the ease of a daily driver, and the added bonus of a convertible then this is the car for you.

In our opinion it remains the finest open-top sports car at its price by
some distance – enough, certainly, for a sun and fun seeker to buy without a second thought.

© COPYRIGHT ARABIA MOTORS MAY 2017

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