Porsche 718 roadster scooped: baby Boxster here in 2016

Published: 10 July 2014

Get set for the £32,000 Porsche: the new lightweight, back-to-basics Porshce 718 roadster.

The two-seater will be based on a cut-down version of the current Boxster, but with all-new, four-cylinder firepower and a no-frills approach to equipment. Think Porsche’s MX-5, and get very excited indeed purists.

Porsche 718: a name plucked from the history books

Named 718 as a nod to the four-cylinder racing car (built from 1957 -’62 and raced by Graham Hill among others), the 2016 version shares its wheelbase with the Boxster but features shorter overhangs, a lighter body-in-white and bespoke body panels. With a 1190kg weight target, the 718 could weigh 120kg less than its roadster brother. 

Much of that will come from the reduced cylinder count. The all-new flat-four engine will be Porsche’s first since the 912’s in the mid-’60s. The four displaces 2.0 litres, is turbocharged, and punches out a decent 286bhp and 295lb ft.

Click here for more news on Porsche’s four-cylinder plans.

Porsche’s four-cylinder engines: 2.0 and 2.5

Porsche will also bore it out to 2.5 litres, yielding 360bhp and 347lb ft. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch ’box. 

The drive to minimise mass means the 718 gets a Spyder-style canvas top (with a light, Perspex rear window); the roof can be dropped manually from the driver’s seat.

The rollover hoops are fixed to reduce complexity; ABS anti-lock brakes, ESP stability programme and four airbags complete the mandatory safety kit. Steering is electrically assisted, brakes will be made of steel and the suspension will be tuned for maximum grip and supersharp handling.

Inside the Porsche 718 roadster

The cockpit continues the pared back-approach. The lightweight seats will be adjusted manually, and the instrument panel is simple compared with the complex electronic systems trickling through to cars like Audi’s new TT.

The 718 is part of Porsche boss Matthias Muller’s strategy to reposition the Boxster and Cayman. Today’s cars will receive a mid-cycle revamp in 2016, triggered by the 718’s introduction.

The Boxster will be pushed upmarket, with a price north of £40,000, more power to keep it ahead of 718, and a more luxurious spec. Indeed, the Boxster will be positioned above the Cayman for the first time, leaving the fixed-head car sandwiched between the two drop-tops in the model line-up. 

Facelifts for Porsche Boxster and Cayman: what to expect

The Cayman/Boxster’s modest generation 2, mid-life facelift covers the bumpers, lights and wheels, while other upgrades include a new steering-wheel design with a rotary drive mode selector, and new infotainment and driver-assistance systems.

The four-cylinder engines should filter through to the 981-generation Boxster/Cayman later in the decade, but not before the exciting 718 gets time to establish itself. Bring it on!

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel