Peter Barnwell road tests and reviews the Porsche Boxster 718 and 718S, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch. 

The trumpeting flat-six engine has gone — but fear not Porsche purists, the new four-cylinder turbo Boxster 718s do not disappoint.

The sound has evolved into a grumbling offbeat warble low-down then progressing to a high-pitched "techno" swoosh at high revs.

This is the first flat-four from Porsche since the mid-'70s and is essentially the six with two cylinders lopped off and a turbo bolted on.

In 2.0 and 2.5-litre forms it's a quicker and more powerful car than any previous equivalent Boxster. Even the "base" model inspires with its performance and handling.

The 2.5 in the S version runs a variable geometry turbo, a rarity in mass-produced petrol engines that makes a huge difference to throttle response. The 2.0 has a conventional turbo.

The exterior has a sharper look to its flanks with more defined creases on the guards and highlights along the side.

Boost pressures aren't high, as in the Benz and Audi small turbo hot rods but with variable valve timing and direct injection the engines produce 220kW/380Nm and 257kW/420Nm. Peak torque is on tap from a mere 1900rpm.

Those outputs are greater than the previous naturally aspirated six-cylinder. Both engines are slightly heavier than the sixes they replace yet use less fuel — the 2.0 returns figures you'd expect from a city runabout at 7.0L/100km.

Drive is to the rear wheels from the low slung, mid-mounted engine through a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch auto.

The sprint from rest to 100km/h in the 2.0 manual takes 4.9 seconds while the 2.5 takes 4.4. Automatic-equipped cars are quicker again.

On a drive through the Gold Coast hinterland, both Boxsters proved entertaining and engaging to drive, whether in manual or auto guise.

The Boxster provides multiple drive modes ranging up to Sport but if you choose the Sports Chrono Pack, it gives you another setting, Sport+, that gives you other go faster electronic features.

Brake upgrades fit the 2.0 with the stoppers from the previous Boxster S while the 2.5 has 911 Carrera brakes. Wheels are 18-inch on the regular Boxster and 19-inch on the S.

The 718 maintains a likeness to the previous car but has 80 per cent new chassis and body parts, mostly in aluminium. Porsche altered the entire substructure to accommodate the four-cylinder engines.

The exterior has a sharper look to its flanks with more defined creases on the guards and highlights along the side. The roof, bonnet, bootlid and screen carry over but everything else is new.

Subtle but significant interior changes include a new multimedia screen with reverse camera and changes to the dash layout and styling.

Roof operation remains as before with deployment taking a mere 10 seconds up to 50km/h.

Satnav is standard on the 718 but if you want to go to the next tech level to access Apple CarPlay and everything it brings, that will be an extra $1090 for the optional CarConnect. That's a bit rich when there are city hatchbacks with this as standard. The Bluetooth is fast and the sound is clear.

Cabin upgrades cover leather, audio and instruments and the luggage spaces front and back are bigger than you'd expect.

On the road

On a drive through the Gold Coast hinterland, both Boxsters proved entertaining and engaging to drive, whether in manual or auto guise.

Porsche has ratcheted everything up a notch or two (including the price), delivering a car that will satisfy the most demanding driver.

The 2.0-litre has superb acceleration and dynamics but it is dramatically bested by the razor sharp 2.5 which is a serious step up in all respects.

They are both well balanced on the road and are relatively unaffected by rough surfaces. The steering is direct and well weighted while the new brakes are also impressive, especially on the 2.5. Even ceramic brakes would be superfluous.

In comfort terms, Porsche's sports convertible is impressive, capably absorbing pretty much anything thrown up by the often poor back roads.