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Review: Porsche 718 Boxster

Driven March 2017

Review: Porsche 718 Boxster

It’s a bit of coincidence, this. The last time I was behind the wheel of a Porsche, it was a pair of GTS’ – the Boxster and the Cayman and those were certainly a bit of a hoot. Unlike that pair, this new one, the 718 Boxster that you see here, obviously is the most basic one that you can get yourself from the showroom, nevertheless, it has some big shoes to fill. This especially holds true with Porsche’s decision to opt for a turbocharged 2-litre petrol motor, instead of a larger naturally aspirated one. But then, that is the way forward and with emission norms getting tighter, there is no other way out. The trick, however, is what the manufacturers seem to pull out when each of these fresh norms come knocking at their door. Each time you think, ‘Oh no, there is no way this can be fun anymore’, and they manage to go out and ensure that it not only matches, but betters what existed.

This mid-life refresh of the Boxster is a pretty serious one. Although it is difficult to tell, apart from the four little LED lamps that accompany the headlamp. It doesn’t share much with the previous generation car – apart from the windshield, trunk-lid and the hood. Every other panel is new and the 2-litre motor has been derived from the 3-litre turbo that powers the 911 Carrera. Promising start then. Even more so when you put the numbers down – 297bhp and 380Nm of twist force out of this tiny engine.

You must imagine a giant turbo installed with lots of lag before whacking home an incredible surge, well, this is phenomenally linear as well. In fact, peak torque output is realised under 2000rpm, 1950 to be precise, and remains flat till 4500rpm. Peak power floods in at 6500rpm and things get pretty entertaining. It is amazing how these numbers add up and the way the 718 drives. There is little turbo lag to speak of, especially with the brilliant PDK gearbox which smoothens things out even further.

Yes, the soundtrack isn’t quite as loud or involving as the six-cylinder setup, but that’s only till you find the little button in the central tunnel labelled ‘Sport’. Press the switch, a little red light comes on and more importantly the exhaust note changes. A richer, more bass track fills the cabin and brings everything alive. Right foot down and, with the gauges adjusted to the correct screen, you can see boost build as the revs climb as the 718 races towards the ton. Four point eight seconds later you have arrived, making this quicker than the outgoing car. With the ‘Sport’ button engaged it even does a little pop on the overrun as you get off the throttle.

The steering is superbly precise as well and despite the soft-sprung suspension (for a sports car), there is tonnes of grip to be exploited from the massive 265-section 19-inch rear tyres. And as I was saying earlier, the ride on the 718 is simply superb. It takes every sort of undulation without flinching even slightly. This basic version does not have the various ride modes, so you never have to worry about selecting the wrong sort of suspension setting for a not so welcoming piece of tarmac.

Handling, however, remains sharp and tackling corners in the 718 is great fun. I began with a bit of caution while going up my favourite set of corners, but quickly realised that the car remained planted and did not even let its tyres screech. It was then time to hit the ‘sport’ switch again and feel the car come alive. A couple of corners later when I’d gathered a bit more courage to push it a little more, the 718 broke into a gentle slide and my eyes lit up. It truly is an incredible feeling to hold on to a controlled slide and this car’s excellent stability turns you into an even better driver. And if there is ever a case where things get unwieldy, the new bigger brakes will haul you in in a flash.

Inside the cabin, things are pretty comfortable with the deeply sculpted seats doing a good job of holding you in place through all that cornering force, while the new steering wheel makes it easy to access various menus through all the buttons on it. Layout of the center console remains familiar with buttons within easy reach with an uncomplicated set up to get to various functions, the touchscreen simplifying things further. On the outside, the Boxster looks familiar apart from the daytime running lamps. Packing away the top remains as easy although the wind blast at highway speeds can be trying.

This is a sports car that you can properly use everyday. You don’t need to crab across speedbreakers, the ride is largely forgiving and with the smaller motor it can run more efficiently as well. That is till you decide to lay the hammer down and, not to forget, hit that ‘Sport’ switch to get a move on. Yes, you don’t get shoved into your seat every time you hit the throttle hard, but the stopwatch doesn’t lie – the 718 is quicker and has a fantastic midrange that more than matches your fancy for speed. It is also the cheapest two-door convertible that you can buy right now at Rs 81.43 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).

Engine: 1988cc, flat four, turbo-petrol
Power: 297bhp @ 6500rpm
Torque: 380Nm @ 1950-4500rpm
Transmission: 7-speed auto, dual-clutch, RWD
0-100kph: 4.8sec
80-0kph: 22 metres
Fuel efficiency: 7.5kpl (overall)
Price: Rs 81.43 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi)

Debabrata Sarkar

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