Porsche has revealed further technical details on its new, turbocharged 718 Boxster roadster. The drop-top sports car gets a brand new flat-four engine bringing more power and torque, greater all-round performance and over 40mpg combined economy.
The Porsche 718 Boxster is on sale now priced from under £42,000, with the first deliveries due in April 2016. Like the old Boxster it’ll go up against the likes of the Mercedes SLC and BMW Z4 in the premium roadster class, but it’s no poser.
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The big controversy surrounding the new ‘981.2’ Boxster might be hidden away behind the boot, but the look has evolved, too. Porsche claims only the bootlid, roof and windscreen are the same as before.
At the front there are larger air intakes at a flatter angle than on the old car, as well as thin four-point LED light strips and sharp new headlights. There are bigger vents on the sides (required for the huge air demands of that turbocharger) and sleek new door handles.
At the back the changes are more noticeable, with wider haunches, a more tapered bootlid and pinched tail-lights with a dual-LED strip. The Porsche badge now sits atop a controversial new ‘accent strip’ running between the lights, while there’s new oval exhaust tip and an electrically raising rear spoiler. 18, 19 or 20-inch wheels can be selected, with the latter getting chunky 265-section tyres.
Inside, it’s still familiar to current Boxster owners, but a new air vent design and the repositioned clock grab your eye first. There’ a choice of two new 918-inspired steering wheel designs, and updated instruments.
Porsche’s standard-fit Communication Management (PCM) system moves on a generation, with Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity, ‘Siri’ voice control, new security functions plus optional wireless charging and an uprated sound system.
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The standard 718 Boxster, starting from £41,739, now gets a two-litre ‘boxer’ turbocharged petrol with 296bhp, up 35bhp from the old naturally aspirated 2.7-litre unit. More importantly, it gets a healthy 380Nm of torque from 1,950rpm, boosting it a full 100Nm over the outgoing Boxster.
It all means that, when optioned up with the PDK transmission and the Sport Chrono pack, the entry-level Porsche can sprint from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds and on to 170mph. That’s 0.8 seconds quicker than before. Forced induction brings inevitable efficiency benefits, too: The Boxster manages an official combined cycle fuel economy figure of 40.9mpg.
Performance gets even closer to the Boxster’s 911 big brother in the £50,695 Boxster S. That gets a bored-out 2.5-litre version of the same engine, but with variable-geometry turbocharging (like the 911 Turbo), producing 345bhp and a mighty 420Nm of torque. That adds up to 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds and 177mph flat-out, while efficiency drops only slightly to 38.7mpg. It’s also capable of lapping the Nurburgring racetrack a mighty 16 seconds faster than the old Boxster S, at 7 minutes and 42 seconds.
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Engineers tell us to expect even more, however. Powertrain boss Michael Wessels told us the “power and torque advantages of the B4 (technical term for the flat-four turbo) offer much more scope for increased performance”. To that end, we’d expect the forthcoming GTS model to approach 390bhp, and later on a Spyder variant to push that figure over that magic 400bhp mark.
To pacify the purists who argue the iconic flat-six sound - that has graced the Boxster since its 1996 launch – will be sorely missed, engineers have worked hard to ensure the Porsche drop-top makes a distinctive noise.
The rev limit, for example, is 7,500rpm, higher than for many turbocharged units in rivals. A new sports exhaust system has been developed, too, and you’ll be pleased to hear there’s no artificial engine noise piped in through the speakers either.
At a technical workshop event we were given a brief passenger ride to showcase the 718’s new abilities. As well as the impressive speed, the noise was the most notable factor from the ride: it’s totally different to the current Boxster, with a bassy flat-four warble somewhere between a Toyota GT86 and a high-output motorbike.
It’s less aurally appealing, no doubt, but far better than we were expecting and distinctive in its own right next to the more mundane-sounding Audi TT. For a full passenger ride review click here…
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A six-speed manual transmission with revised gear ratios is standard fit, but Porsche’s quoted power and economy figures can only be achieved with the updated PDK transmission. It now gets a stop start system that activates when coasting below 7mph, and ‘virtual gears’ that slips the clutch at cruising speeds for extra efficiency.
As you’d expect from a firm as obsessed with handling as Porsche, there’s been numerous tweaks to ensure the chassis can handle the extra poke.
The 718 adopts the retuned electric steering system from the 911 turbo. Engineers claim its 10 per cent more direct than before, with a variable weighting system that makes marking easier and increases agility.
The rear axle is more rigid and all four corners are more stiffly sprung, but Porsche says there’s a greater consideration of ride comfort thanks to new dampers, and less rebound over bumps. You can have your new 718 Boxster looking even sportier when it leaves the factory by going for the optional Porsche Active Suspension Management, which drops the car by 10mm – and for the first time on the Boxster S you can go further and have the car 20mm lower.
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As well as the familiar Normal, Sport and Sport Plus driving modes, changed on the new wheel-mounted selector, there's also now an Individual setting and a new Sport Response button on the wheel. The latter primes the engine and PDK gearbox for overtaking, providing 20 seconds of instant response. Just like many other Porsche models, there's an optional Sport Chrono Package bringing active engine mounts and launch control.
The brakes have been beefed up, too. The standard Boxster gets the same braking system as the old Boxster S, while that car now gets a 911-derived four-piston setup. An optional carbon-ceramic brake pack brings massive 350mm discs all-round, but expect that to set you back several thousand pounds. Porsche’s PSM traction control system has been rejigged, with a new sport mode allowing the limits to be reached more easily before it intervenes. Porsche’s torque-vectoring system also features.
Engineers tell us the 718 Cayman coupe will be all but identical to the 718 Boxster in terms of engine and suspension spec, with only minor chassis tweaks to account for the Cayman’s solid roof. That’ll be revealed later on in the year, likely at a summer event before a Frankfurt Motor Show full debut.
What do you think of the Porsche Boxster's new '718' branding? Let us know in the comments section below...