A BIT OF BAD WEATHER CAN’T RAIN ON THE NEW MODEL’S PARADE
Winter’s not the ideal time to launch a convertible — nor is it the ideal time to test one — but when that soft top is Porsche’s 718 Boxster then, come rain or shine, you get behind the wheel.
During Driven’s two days in the all-new Boxster it did rain and shine, though less than ideal driving conditions are a true test of a vehicle.While roadsters of any price bracket make up a small percentage of New Zealand’s new vehicle segment, Porsche has an established pedigree behind it.
The first generation Boxster was launched in 1988, while this model has direct links back to Porsche’s mid-engine 718s that won numerous races in the 1950s and 60s, including Le Mans, at Nurburgring and Targa Florio.
That 718 roadster had a 1.5-litre, four cylinder boxer engine producing 105kW of power. Fast forward nearly 60 years and this 718 Boxster also claims a four-cylinder engine, this time from the 2-litre turbo-charged engine, producing 220kW of power and 380Nm of torque from 1950-4500rpm.
The Boxster range starts from $125,600 for the six-speed manual, $130,900 (plus extras) for Driven’s test car with Porsche’s doppelkupplung (PDK) dual clutch seven-speed transmission, plus the Boxster S with the 2.5-litre (257kW/420Nm) engine at $150,200 for the manual and $5300 more for the PDK version.
The sports car goes on sale here from today, and although winter is not the ideal time for customers to think about driving with the roof off, Porsche NZ already has keen interest in the Boxster.
For the past 20 years, the Boxster’s design hasn’t changed too dramatically but this time Porsche has decided to toughen up the exterior of the mid-engine roadster – plus add that new engine.
The Boxster is 4379mm long, 1801mm wide, 1281mm high with the main front boot giving 150 litres of storage and the rear boot offering 125 litres.
Whereas the boot lid, windscreen and soft-top remain similar, the rest of the Boxster has changed as the German brand wanted a more muscular look to the sports car, with short overhangs.
Mitja Borkert, from Porsche exterior design team, told CarAdvice.com.au at the international launch this year that the aim was to make the Boxster “even more modern, more athletic”.
“We sent the Boxster to the gym if you will, to gain an even more athletic appearance, but our intrinsic design DNA remains vital,” said Borkert.
The front is wider than the previous model, with new front lights narrower to provide a more dominate appearance. On the side, the Boxster has had a dramatic restyling with new panels, side sills, air intakes and flush door handles. But it’s the rear that impressed me the most – and is the standout design feature of the Boxster.
The new tail lights and the brake lights are in an oval combination with the rear lip perched on the top.
The new three-dimensional Porsche badge is a style icon, just what the brand wanted.
“We wanted to give the rear of the car a more sophisticated appearance,” Borket told CarAdvice.com.au.
Inside, the Boxster remains similar to the outgoing model but with an upgrade taken from the Porsche Macan SUV. It gains the new Porsche Communication Management system, including a 7in touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and my test model had the upgrade of park assist with rear camera ($1500 extra).
The roadster gets a new chassis to improve with cornering and adding to the Boxster’s ride comfort. The steering’s layout is 10 per cent more direct, helping with control with Porsche reckoning that the 718 will be 16 seconds faster on the Nurburgring test.
The 718 Boxster hits 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds for the PDK transmission and a top speed of 275km/h, while the Boxster S hits 0-100km/h in 4.4s and top speed of 285km/h.
The previous generation Boxsters had 2.7- and 3.4-litre naturally aspirated six-cylinder engines but the 2-litre Boxster’s maximum torque of 380Nm is an increase of 100Nm over the previous version while the Boxster S reaches 420Nm, 60Nm more than the last model.
Porsche’s rethink of the engines in the two models comes down to an ever increasing demand for vehicles to have increased fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. The 718 Boxster claims combined fuel efficiency figures of 6.9-litres for the PDK and CO2 emissions of 158g/km.
But enough of the facts and figures. It was time to head to the road.
With Auckland’s inclement winter weather, I made the most of any opportunity to take the roof off, although it closes at up to 50km/h in case you do get hit by a unexpected shower.
My mid-afternoon drive from Porsche NZ’s headquarters to my home was roof off; and although I was hit by stop-start city traffic, it was a good time to monitor the sound of the new engine.
The two-litre, four cylinder was more refined, and proved more background to the drive than the thumping base you’d get from it’s luxury roadster competitor, the Jaguar F-Type.
Roof on and you got an underlying road noise due to my 20in optional tyres.
But the next day it was time to head out away from the urban roads to the motorway and then country roads for our photo shoot at Muriwai Beach.
On the motorway, I dialled the Sport mode. That changed the revs and handling, encouraging you to plant your foot on the accelerator.
After the photo shoot it was time to give the Boxster a good run – unfortunately just as the rain hit. Rain, south-facing roads surrounded by bush, and tight corners, meant easing off the throttle for my test model Boxster that had a final price of $142,830. Instead, I headed on to the motorway again and aimed north for some quieter – and sunny – roads.
Roof off, stereo off and empty roads ahead, I realised that this was what the Boxster demanded: plenty of room to show its new performance.
Again, I dialled in Sport mode, feeling the change in the engine and the surge ahead.
Sitting comfortable at 100km/h, a passing lane had me tap the accelerator to overtake a slow vehicle, and I felt the underlying power simply coursing through the Boxster.
No theatrics, no drama. Something was missing, I thought. It can’t be that tame.
But slowing down as the passing lane ended, I used the paddles on the steering wheel to change down gears – and at last come the crackle from the exhaust and undertone of the engine dialling it down a fraction. Just a fraction.
Hey, if Porsche is going to hark back to its winning racers of the 1950s and 60s by naming the new Boxster the 718, then you’re going to expect a competitive streak.