► New Porsche ‘718’ Boxsters unveiled
► Feature turbocharged 4cyl engines
► Boxster costs £42k, Boxster S £51k
It’s all change for the Porsche Boxster: out goes the fine naturally aspirated flat-six, in comes a turbocharged flat-four. It's the big news on the Porsche stand at the 2016 Geneva motor show.
Purists might wince but those seeking maximum performance won’t complain – the latest Boxster is more powerful, quicker and faster. Predictably, it’s also far more efficient than the naturally aspirated Boxster of old.
This new Boxster gets a different moniker, too. Although it's effectively an update of the existing type '981' model, it will be badged – and referred to – as the ‘718 Boxster’. It's a number lifted from the Porsche 718, a mid-engined, four-cylinder sports car that was campaigned in the ‘60s – see, your affordable four-pot Porsche can be fast and has racing relations, too!
Adopting 718 additionally brings the Boxster range’s numerical ID more in line with Porsche’s other sports car identifiers, namely the 911, 918 and 919 Le Mans racer.
CAR's full guide to the Geneva motor show
So how do the new engines stack up against the old ones?
The entry-level Boxster now packs a 2.0-litre, single-turbo four-cylinder boxer engine. It cranks out 295bhp and a stout 280lb ft. That represents a gain of 33bhp compared with the outgoing 2.7-litre naturally aspirated flat-six and, more notably, a hike of 73lb ft.
It’s plain to see, then, that the turbocharged engine will likely make the Boxster far more tractable on the road; the new engine produces its peak torque from 1950rpm–4500rpm, whereas the old engine required winding out to 4500rpm to hit its peak of 207lb ft – and would start tailing off 2000rpm later, instead of the wider 2500rpm range offered by the boosted engine.
The new 718 Boxster S hits home even harder. Its larger 2.5-litre engine benefits from a variable-vane turbocharger, allowing for higher boost levels without compromising low-speed performance or efficiency.
This, in conjunction with its extra displacement, grants it an output of 345bhp and 310lb ft. That’s an extra 34bhp and 44lb ft, compared with the old 3.4-litre Boxster S. Its peak torque, like the conventional Boxster, is also produced over a wider 2600rpm range, from 1900rpm to 4500rpm. The previous Boxster S, for reference, churned out its peak torque much higher up the rev range, from 4500rpm to 5800rpm.
Not all of the technical details have been announced yet but the pictures show a 7400rpm redline for the S – that's only 200rpm shy of the indicated redline in the naturally aspirated version.
Going to be pretty punchy, then?
You’d imagine that such substantial increases in output would result in quicker acceleration – and you’d be correct. With PDK and the Sport Chrono pack, the new Boxster can sprint from 0-62mph in 4.7sec. That’s a reduction of 0.8sec compared with the equivalently specified naturally aspirated version. The Boxster S, on the other hand, is capable of 0-62mph in 4.2sec – 0.6sec faster than the outgoing verison.
With enough room on hand, the newly turbocharged Porsche will hit 170mph, while the more potent S will nudge 177mph. Again, hikes of 8mph and 5mph respectively over the old PDK Boxsters.
Downsizing = better economy
The 0-62mph times and top speed aren’t the only thing that have been improved. As is the way with most downsizing exercises, fuel consumption has decreased noticeably. Porsche claims that the turbo Boxster – with PDK – will average 40.9mpg, 5.1mpg more than the previous car. Similarly, the Boxster S is reputed to average 38.7mpg, an improvement of 4.3mpg. Time will tell as to whether the claims translate into real-world improvements.
While some may be unsettled about the concept of a four-cylinder, force-fed Boxster, there is one enthusiast-pleasing facet that remains – the standard-fit six-speed manual gearbox. Porsche’s dual-clutch PDK is available as an option, however, and comes with the company’s recently introduced ‘virtual intermediate gear’ system.
This allows the PDK to partially engage two adjacent gears, slipping the clutches to blend the ratios, creating an intermediate gear that allows for optimum efficiency when cruising – helping avoid laboring the engine too much, or having it spinning at a louder, less efficient, higher RPM.
Your inner engineer is probably tearing itself apart about the idea of continually slipping clutches but have no fear; the PDK uses oil-bathed wet clutches and the system reputedly results in no additional wear. Very clever.
The 718 still looks like the previous Boxster, though! Has anything changed?
Porsche has sharpened up the exterior, bringing the looks in line with more recently launched models in the company’s range. It’s got a wider, more aggressive look to it, for starters. Reputedly, the only elements that are unchanged are the windscreen, convertible roof and luggage compartment lids.
Could have fooled us, at a casual glance, but the changes are evident if you look closer. Key tweaks include larger front air intakes, new headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights, new arch and sill panels and new 19-inch wheels for the Boxster S. There have been updates round the back, too, with an accent strip featuring an integrated Porsche badge and redesigned tail-lights. You can opt for 20-inch wheels, as well as LED headlights with four-point daytime running lights – à la 918 Spyder.
Inside, the dash has been changed – primarily to allow for fitment of the latest generation of Porsche’s PCM infotainment system, which will come as a welcome upgrade over the creakier, old system. Unlike the outgoing Boxster the PCM is standard fit and comes with Bluetooth and audio interfaces. Despite spending in excess of £40k on a new Boxster, however, you still won’t get sat-nav as standard. Some things never change.
What else about this force-fed Porsche is new?
There have been a few other updates. Porsche says the suspension has been retuned to suit the new engines and weight distribution. Usefully, the brakes have also been uprated to rein the punchier drop-top in.
Porsche claims the electro-mechanical power steering is now ’10% more direct’, improving the Boxster’s agility, while optional Porsche Active Suspension Management knocks 10mm off the ride height. Those who want to err on the side of hardcore can alternatively specify a PASM Sport Chassis for the Boxster S, which cuts 20mm off the ride height.
A Sport Chrono Package, like that offered in the 911, is also available. It offers Normal, Sport and Sport Plus modes, and if you’ve opted for the PDK you also get a ‘Sport Response’ button. This, a mode also seen in the 911, delivers the sharpest possible engine and gearbox responses for a period of 20 seconds.
Any idea of what it’s like to drive?
CAR magazine has yet to drive the new 718 Boxster but we have taken a passenger ride in one, during winter testing in Canada. You can read the full story here:
New Porsche 718 Boxster first ride preview: 7 things we learned from winter testing.
What’s it going to cost me?
You’ll pay £41,739 for a new Porsche Boxster, or £50,695 for a Boxster S. That’s a hike of £2186 and £2837 respectively, which isn’t bad considering the performance improvements and additional kit.
A more powerful GTS version based on the Boxster S, with 'at least' 365bhp, is also understood to be in the works – but no on-sale date or pricing has yet been revealed for that. The new turbocharged Porsche Boxster and Boxster S are available to order now and deliveries will begin in spring 2016.
Expect other versions in the future, too, including a 718-based Boxster Spyder – and fear not, there's still room in that engine bay for a naturally aspirated flat-six, should future high-performance derivatives be required to call upon it.
Seconds out - when we first drove the Porsche Boxster: CAR magazine, October 1996
Read more of CAR’s 2016 Geneva motor show coverage here
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