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In 1996, the original Scream film was released in cinemas, the Chicago Bulls started their second NBA championship three-peat, and Los del Rio’s Macarena was the number-one song on the Billboard Hot 100.
And in the automotive world, Porsche released an all-new model that made its line-up of class-leading sports cars more accessible than before. I am, of course, talking about the Boxster two-seat convertible.
To celebrate a quarter-century for the entry-level series, Porsche released the aptly named Boxster 25 Years, and we’ve belatedly got behind the wheel. So, is it the best of the breed? Read on to find out.
|Porsche 718 2022: Boxster 25 Years|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
In my humble opinion, the Boxster became a classic from the outset, so it’s no surprise Porsche has subtly evolved its design since the original hit the market.
The version you see is the fourth generation, the 982 series, which has been around for nearly six years now. Despite its age, it still looks really good from the outside.
And the low, sleek body is punctuated by the 25 Years’ flourishes, with the Neodyme finish on the front bumper insert and side air intake helping it to stand out from the Boxster crowd.
That said, my equal favourite element is the Neodyme 20-inch alloy wheel design, with the black brake calipers tucked behind. The unique five-spoke rim looks damn cool. Old-school chic, perhaps?
They match the fun brought by the Bordeaux Red fabric roof, which pops on the 'GT Silver metallic' test vehicle. It’s also worth noting the black windscreen surround creates beautiful separation between it and the brilliant paintwork.
Inside, the 25 Years makes an even bigger statement with its full leather upholstery, which is unavoidable Bordeaux Red in our test vehicle. We’re talking cow hide from literal top to bottom. It feels every bit as luxurious as the price tag suggests.
But if Bordeaux Red isn’t your thing (it’s used for the steering wheel’s rim and all the carpets and plastics, after all), you can opt for plain old black instead, but I think that’s missing the point of the 25 Years, which has contrasting brushed aluminium trim to break things up.
The game has moved on a lot in the past six years and the Boxster simply isn’t up to scratch anymore. Porsche offers larger touchscreens and newer multimedia systems in other models, and they’re desperately needed here.
The functionality is basic. Yes, it gets the job done, but not with the high quality you expect of a Porsche in 2022.
The power-operated fabric roof can be put down or up at up to 50km/h, a process that takes a reasonable amount of time. And let’s be honest, you buy a Boxster to be topless as often as possible, even if it means stowing some of the 25 Years’ eye-catching Bordeaux Red.
Measuring 4391mm long (with a 2475mm wheelbase), 1801mm wide and 1273mm tall, the 25 Years is small in size, which doesn’t bode well for practicality – on paper, at least.
Being mid-engined, the 25 Years offers a boot and a frunk, which combine for a good-for-the-segment 270L of cargo capacity.
The former has 120L, making it large enough for a couple of soft bags. And the latter serves up 150L, good for two small suitcases.
Neither storage area offers tie-down points or bag hooks – not that they’re really needed, anyway, given the modest space on offer. And while amenities are present in the cabin, they’re limited and, in some instances, compromised.
For example, the only two cupholders are hidden behind the brushed aluminium trim on the passenger side of the dashboard. They pop out and are of the flimsy variety. They’re also small enough to be basically useless.
Bottles could normally be alternatively stored in the door bins, but they’re split into two sections, of which one handily folds out but is still not wide or tall enough to accommodate larger items.
That said, the glove box is surprisingly large, also housing a single USB-A port. Another one is located in the central storage bin, which is rather shallow. There’s a small cubby ahead, though, for placing the key fob and/or loose coins.
Aside from coat hooks on the seat backrests and a storage net in the passenger footwell, that’s your lot. But you weren’t expecting much in the way of versatility, were you?
Priced from $192,590 plus on-road costs, the automatic 25 Years isn’t exactly cheap. If you want to satisfy the purist inside, you can get a manual version for $5390 less, although you lose some performance in the process, but more on that later.
Compared to the GTS 4.0 grade it’s based upon, the 25 Years commands a $3910 premium, but buyers are compensated with not only a unique exterior and interior package, but also knowing they own one of the just 1250 examples sold globally. The one you see here is #53, by the way.
So, what do you actually get? Well, a gold finish ('Neodyme' in Porsche speak) is applied to the 25 Years’ front bumper insert and side air intakes as well as the unique 20-inch alloy wheels (with a tyre repair kit).
Adaptive LED headlights are also in tow alongside a bespoke aluminium fuel-filler cap, a black windscreen surround, black brake callipers, a 'Bordeaux Red' fabric roof, unique badging and high-gloss stainless-steel sports exhaust tailpipes.
Inside, full leather upholstery (standard Bordeaux Red in our GT Silver Metallic test vehicle) is found, complemented by brushed aluminium trim, which features an individually numbered build plate on the passenger side of the dashboard. A specific analogue instrument cluster and ‘Boxster 25’ scuff plates are also fitted.
Standard equipment shared with the GTS 4.0 includes speed-sensitive electric power steering with a variable ratio, a sports brakes package (350mm front and 330mm rear cross-drilled discs with six- and four- piston fixed calipers, respectively), adaptive suspension (10mm lower than a ‘regular’ 718 Boxster) and a rear limited-slip differential.
And then there’s dusk-sensing lights (including LED DRLs and tail-lights), rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry, a wind deflector, an active rear spoiler, a 7.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay support (sorry, Android users), digital radio, a 4.6-inch multifunction display, a heated sports steering wheel with a power-adjustable column, heated seats, dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and sports pedals. Deep breath.
Now, the 25 Years wouldn’t be a Porsche if it didn’t have a long list of desirable but expensive options, and it sure does. Our test vehicle has a painted key fob with a leather pouch ($780), a body-colour headlight cleaning system ($380), power-folding side mirrors with puddle lights ($560), and body-colour fixed rollover bars ($960).
And let’s not forget the Bose surround-sound system ($2230), 18-way power-adjustable sports seats with memory functionality ($1910), and Bordeaux Red seatbelts ($520).
Being based on the 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 grade, the 25 Years is motivated by one of the last great naturally aspirated engines, Porsche’s revered 4.0-litre flat six-cylinder petrol unit. Better yet, it’s mid-mounted, with drive sent to the rear wheels. Enthusiast-friendly, then.
When paired to our test vehicle’s snappy seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission, it produces 294kW of power (at a screaming 7000rpm) and 430Nm of torque (at 5500rpm). For reference, the less expensive six-speed manual variant concedes 10Nm.
As a result, the PDK is quicker in the 0-100km/h sprint, at four seconds flat – half a second better than the manual can manage. That said, the latter’s 293km/h top speed is 5.0km/h faster than the former’s – not that you’ll ever notice in Australia.
Partly thanks to its stop-start system, the 25 Year’s fuel consumption on the combined-cycle test (ADR 81/02) is a reasonable 9.7L/100km with the PDK or 11.0L/100km with the manual.
In my real-world testing with the former, though, I averaged 10.1L/100km over 360km of driving skewed towards highways over city roads.
That’s a relatively impressive result considering how ‘enthusiastically’ the 25 Years was driven during my week with it.
For reference, the 25 Years has a 64L fuel tank that predictably only takes costlier 98 RON premium petrol and has a claimed range of 660km (PDK) or 582km (manual). My experience translates to 637km.
Think ‘driving nirvana’ and the Boxster should immediately come to mind, specifically the GTS 4.0 and, by extension, the 25 Years tested here. Make no mistake, this is a phenomenal sports car to drive.
Of course, plenty of the credit goes to the unreal 4.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol flat six-cylinder engine.
It’s so good, in fact, that you want to wring every gear of the seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission out for what it’s worth.
Now, of course, that means you can get yourself in trouble very quickly. The first ratio tops at around 70km/h and the second about 120km/h, after all. But if you’re like me, you’ll commit to careful braking because the engine is stratospheric above 5000rpm.
The sweet, sweet symphony the 25 Years conducts behind its cabin is properly old school, with the sports exhaust system successfully amplifying it further. And, of course, this all comes with the kind of linear power delivery purist dreams are made of.
But in the era dominated by turbocharged engines and hybrid powertrains, it’s the immediate responsiveness of the 25 Years’ flat six down low that surprises and delights. It is a sports car that’s on it off-the-line.
Acceleration is properly quick, so much so the 25 Years is no doubt quicker to triple digits than claimed. Yep, we’re talking about a sub-four second sports car here. Thankfully, braking performance is strong, with pedal feel great.
But the transmission also deserves some acknowledgement, as it is brilliant. Throttle inputs are met with near-instant response in the 'Normal' mode, downshifting a gear or three in a blink. But engage 'Sport' or 'Sport Plus' instead, and the shift points become noticeably higher.
That said, even more fun is had when putting the PDK in manual, as the driver can use the lovely metal paddle-shifters to swap ratios themselves.
Either way, upshifts are snappy. Needless to say, this engine-transmission combination is such a joy to use.
However, there’s more to the 25 Years experience, as it’s also beautifully balanced around corners. In fact, it’s the type of sports car that will convince you to seek out a nice twisty road time and time again.
Tip the 25 Years into a bend and it handles like it’s on rails, with its limits far beyond that of most drivers, myself included.
The immense body control and grip on offer affords total control and, therefore, confidence when pushing hard.
Now, the speed-sensitive electric power steering is a touch on the light side at higher speeds, but it actually suits the ‘modern lightweight’ character of the 25 Years (1435kg with the PDK, or 1405kg with the manual).
Better yet, this system makes the most of its variable ratio to be quick and direct when you need it, making for a very lively – but not skittish – steer with plenty of feedback through the wheel.
Even the 25 Years’ ride is relatively well damped, with the adaptive shock absorbers doing their best to soften road imperfections. But you definitely ‘experience’ all the undulations out there, although that’s just part of its communicative nature.
Yep, the 25 Years can be a comfortable cruiser when you want it to be, but flick the dampers into their hardest setting and road sense heightens.
The firmer edge is still bearable, but with next to no body control issues in the first place, why bother off-track?
Naturally, all of the above is made better when the 25 Years’ roof is open. Speaking of which, wind buffeting is limited when doing so with the windows and deflector in action.
Close the roof, though, and road noise is prominent, although it can be easily drowned out by the soundtrack available via your right foot or the Bose surround-sound system.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Neither the 25 Years nor the wider 718 Boxster range have been assessed by Australia’s independent automotive safety authority, ANCAP, or its European counterpart, Euro NCAP, so its crash performance remains a mystery.
Either way, advanced driver-assist systems in the 25 Years only extend to regular cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, and tyre pressure monitoring.
Yep, there’s no autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep and steering assist, adaptive cruise control or rear cross-traffic alert to speak of here. In this regard, the Boxster is getting rather long in the tooth.
But other standard safety equipment includes six airbags (dual front, side and curtain), anti-skid brakes (ABS) and usual electronic stability and traction control systems.
Like all other Porsche Australia models, the 25 Years comes with a standard three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is two years behind the benchmark set in the premium segment by Audi, Genesis, Jaguar/Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo.
The 25 Years also gets three years of roadside assistance, and its service intervals are on par, at every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first.
For reference, capped-price servicing isn't available, with Porsche dealers determining how much each visit costs.
The 25 Years is one of those few test vehicles I didn’t want to hand the keys back for. It is so, so good on so many levels.
That said, if you’re not a fan of its arresting colour combination (I am, for the record), save $3910 and get the ‘regular’ GTS 4.0 instead. It’s the one that set the table, after all.
And one more thing: most people think the 911 is the Porsche to buy, and as iconic as it is, the reality is the 718 Boxster is the better sports car to drive around corners. It also happens to be a lot ‘cheaper’, so I can stop saving for one sooner…
|Boxster||2.0L, ULP, 7 SP AUTO||$123,280||2022 Porsche 718 2022 Boxster Pricing and Specs|
|Boxster 25 Years||4.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$192,590||2022 Porsche 718 2022 Boxster 25 Years Pricing and Specs|
|Boxster GTS 4.0||4.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$183,290||2022 Porsche 718 2022 Boxster GTS 4.0 Pricing and Specs|
|Boxster S||2.5L, ULP, 6 SP MAN||$142,300||2022 Porsche 718 2022 Boxster S Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||10|