Arguments about whether a Boxster is a real Porsche, just because it's not a 911, are boring. It's like saying a 737 jet isn't a proper Boeing because it's not a 747. Besides, haven't we moved past that?
It's way more interesting to talk about what the top-of-the-line, fourth-generation 718 Boxster GTS is like to drive and live with, especially given this current model (released in May, 2017) left the previous version's beautiful, naturally aspirated flat six behind for a twin-turbo four (also horizontally opposed).
You'll pay a premium for the honour of wearing the GTS badge. So, is it worth it, what styling and performance differences are there? And what's that noise? No, I'm not talking about the engine.
You'll know a whole lot more about the Boxster GTS after reading this review.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?
This current generation 718 Boxster GTS arrived amid controversy because of a change to the powerplant: the naturally aspirated flat six was swapped for a turbocharged flat four in the search for better fuel efficiency.
Anybody concerned about a drop in grunt need not be because the new 2.5-litre four makes 269kW/420Nm – an increase of 26kW/50Nm over the six. A regular Boxster S has the same engine producing 257kW/420Nm.
The mid-mounted flat-four's maximum power arrives at 6500rpm, with peak torque available from 1900-5000rpm. Redline is 7500rpm.
I've driven the previous-gen six-cylinder Boxster S and Cayman back-to-back with a 911 on road and track, and while they lacked the outright grunt of their big brother, they made up for it in outstanding dynamics, and their naturally aspirated flat-sixes sounded great.
If you've come to know and love the previous generation Boxster and its familiar sound, then the voice of this new turbocharged flat four 718 Boxster may be the biggest hurdle for you.
You need to give this Boxster a chance, though, because while it doesn't have the old model's gnarly idle note or 'full-noise' open throttle scream, it still sounds uniquely Porsche and definitely not Subaru-like.
Sitting in the driver's seats the four has a deep throaty thump to it that's compelling. That thumping travels through your back, down your arms and into the steering wheel. In the cabin it's loud, even with the exhaust set to its quietest mode. So, while it's not at all the sound of the old flat six – the four brings an arguably less lovable, but distinctly menacing new soundtrack… with dynamics to match.
Yup, the 718 Boxster GTS is every bit the gifted and sharp animal it should be. Maximum torque is under your right foot from almost idle, and with hardly any turbo lag acceleration is borderline brutal with 0-100km/h all over in 4.1 seconds, half a second quicker that the current entry-level 911.
Piloting the 718 Boxster brings all the right Porsche feelings with it. The electrically-assisted steering is super direct, the nose pointing precisely where you want it to, accompanied by a superb connection to the road.
The electrically-assisted steering is super direct.
Add beautiful balance, incredible grip from the 20-inch Michelin Pilot Sport 4 rubber (235/35 front, 265/35 rear) plus a taut chassis which corners flatter than a concrete slab, and you have something special. Not to mention a very good reason to resist the step up to a 911 if you're tempted.
The best driving conditions, I think anyway, for a convertible are summer nights. The smells and sounds connect you to the landscape you're passing through – even if you're travelling at warp speed. Come to a bridge over a river and the scent of the dampness and cool air mixes with the heat of the night, the sound of the car… and possibly the stench of your brakes.
And those brakes are great – just wave your foot over them and you'll be suspended-by-your-seat-belt.
Also, perfectly Porsche is the driving position. You sit low, almost on the floor, and at 191cm tall, I have to say after a couple of hours my hips were hurting. Some rave about how comfortable the Boxster's driving position is, but I'd be fibbing if I agreed. My test car was fitted with the optional 'Adaptive Sports Seats Plus' package bringing figure hugging chairs that were a bit too tight for me even on their most accommodating setting.
But just steering around the city, or on short trips, I found the seats comfortable and supportive, and the driving position painless.
How does the Boxster cope with life at low speed? It's fine and easy to drive. The 'PDK' transmission is a dual-clutch auto and it's a bit jerky and noisy (clunk, clack, clunk) around car parks as it swaps gears, but it's not going to stall or stop on you – just let it do its thing.
Rear and over-the-shoulder visibility isn't great with the soft top up, but with it down (roof folding is automatic) there's nothing blocking your vision and parking is easy.
When the roof was in place the fabric made a creaking, rustling sound like cellophane.
Speaking of the roof – the one on our test car was noisy. I'm not talking about wind noise – there's hardly any, it's so well designed. But when the roof was in place the fabric made a creaking, rustling sound like cellophane being scrunched up as it flexed over the bumps in the road. It's completely trivial, but the only way I could get it to stop was by placing my hand on the roof as I drove. It's not a deal breaker at all – but keep an ear out for it on your test drive.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
The 718 Boxster GTS lists for $175,900, before on-road costs, which is $22,610 more than the 718 Boxster S. So, what do those extra dollars deliver?
Well, there's the extra power, but there are other differences. They both have the same sized brakes (330mm at the front and 299mm at the rear) but the GTS has lighter aluminium calipers. Both have lightweight spring strut axles, but the GTS comes standard with adaptive dampers. The GTS is 8.0mm lower than the S, but has the same length and width, which you can read about in the design section below.
Also standard on the GTS are bi-xenon headlights, LED tail-lights, two zone climate control, heated rear screen, touchscreen multimedia, a rear-view camera, and heated sports seats with GTS embroidered logo.
Our test car had the 'GTS interior package' ($7490) which adds Alcantara to everything (doors, seats, dash) and carbon trim. Look at the interior images.
The heated sports seats with GTS embroidered logo.
The 'GTS interior package' is $7490
There's Alcantara on the doors, seats and dash.
If you want contrasting colour added to the instruments and seat belt stitching the 'Interior Package in Crayon' will cost $4390.
The test example also featured the 'Interior Package in Crayon' ($4390) which adds contrasting colour to the instruments and seat belt stitching, for example. The Bose surround system option box ($2650) was also ticked.
Then there were the LED headlights ($2530), a reversing camera and parking sensors ($1690), and the PDK dual clutch ($5980). That takes the price to $209,300, and that's still before on-road costs. By the way, the entry-grade 911 Carrera is $220,000. Just sayin'.
I reckon most would agree that the Boxster has grown better looking with each new generation since the first arrived in 1996. The 718 is the fourth-generation version, and like its Cayman twin-with-a-roof, doesn't have the hulking rear end of the 911, but the family resemblance in strong from front-on. The 718 Boxster, like the Cayman and 911 has a unique look that other brands dare not imitate.
People will know you have the GTS by the blacked-out-but-obvious badging on the rear bumper and doors. The GTS grade also brings the 'SportDesign' package which adds the body kit you can see in the images with body-coloured front spoiler and gloss black highlights.
People will know you have the GTS by the blacked-out-but-obvious badging.
Our test car wore a red fabric roof, which looked good and turned a few heads. The red is a standard colour, as is blue, brown and black.
What are the Boxster GTS's dimensions? At 4.4m in length, 2.0m in width (with mirrors) and just over 1.2m in height, the 1.4 tonne Boxster GTS is small.
As mentioned in the features section above, the cabin of our test car was dripping in Alcantara and carbon fibre trim. Neither of which are necessary but look good. I'm not a fan of the way Alcantara feels and I find it can make the steering wheel slippery (gloves grip well on it, though), plus have you seen how it wears? Google it.
Our test car wore a red fabric roof, which looked good and turned a few heads.
The cockpit is almost identical to the cabin of a 911, with the placement of controls and use of materials. There's no budget Porsche feeling in here, at all.
The Boxster GTS, like all 718 Boxsters and Caymans, is a two-seater. If that's a deal breaker, and your heart is set on Porsche then there's the 911 which has four seats, or the Macan and Cayenne SUVs.
The Boxster GTS, like all 718 Boxsters and Caymans, is a two-seater.
At 191cm tall I can't call the cockpit spacious, but there's enough shoulder and elbow room for me to turn the steering wheel freely and my head clears the fabric roof by about 30mm.
I found the driver's footwell a bit tight, and if you're as tall as me or taller and want a Boxster with a manual gearbox check to see if your knee hits the steering wheel when letting out the clutch – this seems to be an ergonomic issue I have with Porsches, even in the 911.
Cabin storage isn't great, there's a shallow tray under the centre armrest, plus pull out door pockets, and two cupholders slide out of the dash above the glove box.
The GTS has two boots, one at the front and one at the back.
The front boot located under the 'bonnet' has a luggage capacity of 150 litres.
The boot at the back has 275 litres of cargo space.
But wait, you have two boots – one at the front under the 'bonnet' which has luggage capacity of 150 litres and one at the back with 275 litres of cargo space.
Fuel efficiency. This is why the 718 Boxster has a four-cylinder engine and not a six in this generation. Porsche boasts that not only did it manage to build an engine which makes more power and torque but it's up to 13 per cent more fuel efficient that the previous engine.
The PDK is the most economical and will use 8.2L/100km after a combination of open and urban roads according to Porsche, while the manual's best mileage will be 9.0L/100km.
Our car with the PDK was reporting an average of 10.5L/100km on the trip computer.
Our car was reporting an average of 10.5L/100km on the trip computer.
Minimum fuel requirement is 98 RON premium unleaded, and you'll need 64 litres of it to fill the tank.
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?
Safety is an area of controversy because neither European crash testers Euro NCAP or the Australian equivalent ANCAP have had an opportunity to assess the 718 Boxster.
While there are airbags and a roll over bar, the lack of advanced safety technology is startling – no AEB or pedestrian detection, no lane keeping assistance and no rear cross traffic alert.
There is the optional 'Porsche Active Safe' package which adds adaptive cruise control and blind spot warning, but for a prestige car not to offer safety tech commonly found on cars in the budget end of the market is disappointing.
The lack of advanced safety technology is startling.
It's because of this that the 718 Boxster GTS has been given such a low mark – if it had AEB along with the suite of tech which is now common on cars half its price the score would be much higher.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?
3 years / unlimited km warranty
Porsche recommends 12-month/15,000km oil maintenance service intervals, and expect to pay about $695. An intermediate service costing $1085 is required every two years/30,000km, and a major service every four years/60,000km.
The Porsche 718 Boxster GTS inhabits the world beneath supercars, and while it can't match them for outright acceleration, speed and glamour it has all you need for one of the best sports car driving experiences you could ask for, at a price well below those over-the-top showponies. My only reservations are the lack of advanced safety tech and that the standard features list is a bit lightweight.
Did Porsche made a huge mistake dropping the flat-six from the Boxster? Tell us what you think in the comments below.