The Porsche 718 Boxster S was announced at the start of 2016 with the news that two cylinders would be taken away. In the place of a 3.4 litre flat-six would sit a 2.5 litre turbocharged flat-four.
The numbers stack up, though. 350hp and 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds. But what do we make of the new noise? Well it no longer makes the classic Porsche flat-six motorsport inspired wail and is now more of a warble and thrum. I’ve driven the 718 Boxster S a couple of times now and with each time, the noise gets better and you become more accustomed to the tone – especially with the roof down. It makes all of the right burps on the overrun, too.
The engine feels great to drive, so nothing is lost there and the car is very capable as a result. The way that the throttle responds to your right foot and propels the car forward is definitely fitting of the marque, regardless of changes to the power train. However, there is a little delay in power delivery below 2,500 rpm, but once you’re aware of this, it is easy to keep the car energized in its power band by using the right gears. The PDK transmission is as intuitive as ever and takes care of this for you. The manual gearbox is nothing short of what you would expect from Porsche. It is lovely. It also features the automated throttle blip on the down changes when Sport mode is active. Again, this is something that caused a stir when it was introduced, seen as something which interferes with the process of driving. But it is great fun as each rev-match is perfectly executed.
Everything else is very familiar to the previous generation 981 Boxster. So the handling and stopping feel homely, but with that bit more to give. Optional carbon ceramic brakes offer the agility of un-sprung weight, but the standard four-piston items on the front axle come directly from the 911 Carrera which are very good and full of feel, allowing you to modulate your input to scrub off speed. At no point during hard use on Porsche’s test track at Silverstone did they show any signs of letting up, including 0-60-0 tests. This is praise indeed, as the previous Boxster was great to drive.
The 981 Boxster transformed the model in the Porsche range, which then became highly thought of as one of the best drivers’ cars in this segment. The 718 Boxster S still delivers. It is beautifully balanced up to and above the limit, allowing you to predict and monitor each reaction from the car.
As I said, the new engine doesn’t make the classic Porsche howls and wails which the previous Boxster did so well. But, could Porsche have been gently caressing a crystal ball during the development of this car? During the last few years, we have seen many car manufacturers downsizing and turbocharging their engines. It is rumoured that a British manufacturer is already testing a four-cylinder version of their sports car and it begs the question as to what this will sound like.
A subtle redesign of the cabin on the 718 Boxster S is also something which will keep the model fresh and perhaps one of the highest quality interiors among the competition. Although the changes are minimal, the reshaped dashboard and air vents keep the design up-to-date and the new infotainment system with Bose sound system and Apple Car Play, is a real top quality addition. The car also features the sports steering wheel with the new ‘mode switch’ mounted to the centre of the steering wheel at the 4 o’clock position which alters the car’s driving modes between Normal, Sport and Sport Plus.
Sport mode is of course where the car sounds best and even with this active, the car still rides and absorbs rough and bumpy road surface well. This has always been one of the Boxster’s most significant advantages over its rivals – an uncompromising ride, but still delivering a firm and communicative driving experience.
The 718 Boxster S is still a great car and delivers its performance at the drop of a hat. It is engaging, responsive and looks and feels fantastic. For now, the noise is still something to get used to. But the times are rapidly changing and Porsche may just be ahead of the game here. In a few years’ time, we could look back and realise just how good the turbocharged flat-four sounds.
Engine Size: 2.5 litre, flat-four, 16 valve, mid-mounted
Top Speed: 177 mph
Power: 350 hp
Torque: 310 lb ft
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Driven Wheels: Rear
0-62 mph: 4.6 seconds
Combined MPG: 34.9
Kerb Weight: 1460kg
OTR Price: £50,695
Star Rating: * * * *