Porsche 718 Boxster T review (2019): is Boxster-lite the best recipe?

Published:22 October 2019

718 Boxster T
  • At a glance
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, automotive design graduate, Radical champ

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, automotive design graduate, Radical champ

► Porsche 718 Boxster T review
► Base 2.0 engine, choice chassis options
► 295bhp, £54k, 1350kg as standard

That’s T for Touring, as per 2018’s Porsche 911 Carrera T – a back-to-basics, slightly lightened version of the regular car with fewer luxuries but some cherry-picked dynamic options. The letter’s a nod to the classic 911T model of the late ’60s.

There’s also a Porsche 718 Cayman T, essentially the same car with a roof (and a circa £1800 lower price). You can read the Cayman T review here

How much is the Porsche 718 Boxster T, and what do you get for your money?

The Boxster T uses the 2.0-litre flat-four engine from the base 718 models, but costs around £7200 extra at the time of writing, at £53,916. That’s around £1861 more than the fixed-head Cayman T, and less than £2k cheaper than the 2.5-litre 718 Boxster S.

Spec students might argue the extra outlay is justified, because speccing a base Boxster with the options fitted to the T as standard would outstrip its additional list price: 

  • Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM to its friends, and Porsche’s name for adaptive dampers). The T sits 10mm lower than a regular PASM-equipped Boxster would, with a 20mm reduction in ride height over a standard 718.
  • 20 in wheels (18s are standard on a regular Boxster)
  • A mechanical limited-slip differential, combined with electronic torque vectoring
  • Sport Chrono package: extra driving modes, including a partway-off setting for the stability control, and adaptive engine mounts

The lightweight measures are largely confined to trim elements. The radio and infotainment unit can be deleted, for example – but any sane buyer would surely option it back in, as it’s a no-cost option – and the door handles are replaced by fabric pulls which are either a gimmick or great depending on your personal standpoint. Ditto the ’70s-style decals fitted to the T as standard (although it's a no-cost option to have them removed - or added at a later date by a dealer if you change your mind).

The lightweight 20-inch wheels have spokes so spidery thin you can see a lot of the brake assembly through them, and if you’re stood a little further down the car, the cooling system up front too. The result is that the T’s discs look oddly small as you approach the car for the first time. Nothing wrong with them, they get the car stopped nicely but, visually, it may look underbraked to some. Think of the benefits in unsprung mass, though…

How does it feel to drive?

As lithe and responsive you'd expect. The 718 is still one of the best-handling sports cars on sale, as easy to drive as it is rewarding, with fabulously neutral balance.

The adaptive dampers help mitigate against the large wheels and the T rides very well, the suspension only getting crashy on the roughest of roads. The body/chassis structure feels very stiff by convertible standards too, with little obvious flex. 

That manifests itself in the fast, direct steering response too. It’s a shame that the engine feels flat (literally and metaphorically) by contrast. It needs revs for progress, but sounds and feels strained in its higher registers, so there’s little encouragement to do so. The larger 2.5-litre unit in the 718 Boxster S is a more exciting engine to drive. 

That said, the Boxster T actually sounds a bit more interesting roof-down than the fixed-head Cayman T does, the freer acoustics making extra gurgles and whooshes audible from the engine. 

You can spec the 718 T with the PDK paddleshift-auto transmission but it seems a waste (and against the T’s back-to-basics ethos) when the standard manual gearchange is so nice to use. 

It also gives the Boxster something of a USP against auto-only rivals such as the Alpine A110 and BMW Z4 M40i.

If the T is a stripped-back kind of car, is it hard to live with?

No more so than a regular 718, assuming you’ve optioned the radio back in. There’s no climate control as standard, a box worth ticking (even if it does cost more than £500) since the standard 718 air-con controls are awkward and need constant fiddling with. 

That’s an ergonomic manifestation of a platform that’s just beginning to feel its age now, but long may it continue when it handles this well. 

It’s a car you’d have no qualms about driving every day, and could be a daily driver rather than a second car if it suited your lifestyle, whereas a Lotus Elise, Alfa 4C or even an Alpine A110 are best treated as weekend cars. 

BMW’s Z4 is even easier to live with and available with a charismatic straight-six for a similar price to the Boxster T, although it’s not quite as rewarding to drive from a handling point of view. 

The Z4 has a great boot, but the Boxster has two – a spacious ‘frunk’ up front, and a still-usable smaller boot at the rear.

         

Verdict

The Porsche 718 Boxster T is a lovely thing, but so is the standard Boxster for around £7k less. 

The T’s extra dynamic goodies are desirable, in particular the PASM dampers and limited-slip diff (although it doesn’t really have the torque to make the most of it in all situations), but when the price jump to the 2.5-litre Boxster S is less than £2000 at the time of writing, it’s tempting to trade them for another 500cc and 30lb ft. 

Specs

Price when new: £53,916
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1998cc flat-four, 295bhp @ 6500rpm, 280lb ft @ 2150-4500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 5.3sec 0-62mph (4.7sec with Sport Chrono pack), 170mph, 31.4-32.8mpg, 187-181g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1350kg/steel, aluminium
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4379/1994/1264

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  • Porsche 718 Boxster T review (2019): is Boxster-lite the best recipe?
  • Porsche 718 Boxster T review (2019): is Boxster-lite the best recipe?
  • Porsche 718 Boxster T review (2019): is Boxster-lite the best recipe?
  • Porsche 718 Boxster T review (2019): is Boxster-lite the best recipe?
  • Porsche 718 Boxster T review (2019): is Boxster-lite the best recipe?
  • 718 Boxster T
  • 718 Boxster T
  • Porsche 718 Boxster T review (2019): is Boxster-lite the best recipe?
  • Porsche 718 Boxster T review (2019): is Boxster-lite the best recipe?

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, automotive design graduate, Radical champ

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