It’s a big year for Porsche’s entry-level sports roadster. Not only has the model received its mid-life update for this generation with freshened styling, it also gets a pair of new engines and a new name.
As with the 911, the new 718 Boxster features downsized and turbocharged engines. That means instead of finding a flat-six nestled right behind the rear bulkhead, the 718 Boxster and Boxster S get smaller horizontally opposed four-cylinder engines.
But just because the engines are smaller and have fewer cylinders than before doesn't mean they're any less mighty. In fact, the new 718's 2.0-litre H4 produces 300 horsepower, a hefty 35-hp gain over last year's 2.7-litre H6. The 718 Boxster S uses a slightly larger 2.5-litre flat four and also gains 35 hp for a total of 350 hp.
But horsepower is only part of the picture. Torque shoots up to 280 lb-ft for the Boxster, a whopping 74 lb-ft more, while the S increases by 43 lb-ft to 309 lb-ft. The S' higher-end powerplant also gets a variable geometry turbocharger, the first application on a four-cylinder gas-powerplant.
Both the standard 718 and 718 S get a six-speed manual transmission as standard, with Porsche's seven-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission as an option.
These new engines have quite the effect on performance. 0-100 km/h drops to between 5.1 seconds and 4.7 seconds for the 718 Boxster depending on options and transmission. PDK-equipped Boxsters consume just 10.5 L/100 km city and 8.0 L/100 km highway - downright good for a car with such great performance potential. As for the 718 Boxster S, 0-100 km/h times range between 4.6 and a 911-chasing 4.2 seconds. Consumption is as low as 11.0 L/100 km in the city and 8.4 on the highway.
While the powertrain changes are major, the 718 Boxster looks more or less unchanged. New front and rear bumpers give the car a more refined appearance and add a few millimetres to the overall length. Bi-xenon headlamps and 3D-effect LED tail lights are also included. The 718 Boxster’s standard wheels are now 18 inches in diameter, while the 718 Boxster S gets 19-inch light alloy wheels.
Under the skin, the new 718s get revised suspension tuning with one of three available suspension tunes, optional adaptive dampers, plus a quick-ratio steering rack borrowed from the 911 Turbo for further agility.
If there's one area of the car that hasn't seen much change, it's in the cabin. All 718s now get a 918-style three-spoke steering wheel with available multi-function controls, heater, and when equipped with the PDK automated 'box, proper paddles. Also new is Porsche's redesigned and state-of-the-art 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
In the past, the Boxster and Boxster S were less expensive than their fixed-roof Cayman counterparts. For the new 718, the reverse is true. Pricing now starts at $63,900, while the 718 Boxster S sells for $78,000.