It’s a sign of the times we now live in. Porsche have chucked away the 981 Boxster’s six-cylinder flat-six engines in favour of turbocharged flat-fours units that are kinder to the environment. But I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.
To make up for the lack of cylinders Porsche has renamed the Boxster and it’s now called the ‘718 Boxster’, a homage to the Porsche 718 racing cars of the 1950s and 60s. The old 718 also featured four-cylinder engines. Actually, looking back at some of Porsche’s first sports cars such as the 356 and the 550 Spyder, flat-fours have are as deep rooted in Porsche’s history as round headlights.
Initially there’ll be a pair of new flat-four engines, a 2.0-litre and a 2.5-litre. The 2.0 in the 718 Boxster produces 220kW/300bhp and 380NM of torque, up from the outgoing car’s 195kW/265bhp and 280NM. The 718 Boxster S pumps out a beefier 257kW/350bhp and 420NM of torque, up from 232kW/315bhp and 360NM, and comes with variable turbine geometry taken from the 911 Turbo.
Power will be sent to the rear-wheels via a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission. Porsche claims an improvement in fuel economy of up to 13 percent. Claimed combined figures are 6.9L/100km for the 718 Boxster and 7.3L/100km for the Boxster S. Of course this will slightly differ if you are trying to achieve the same sonorous noise the old six-cylinder Boxsters made.
Other upgrades include a retuned chassis, power steering that’s 10 percent more direct, and a ‘Sport Response Button’ like what you get in the new 911 Turbo. This gives ‘maximum responsiveness’ for 20 seconds. An optional extra that might be worth ticking is the ‘Sport Chassis’ which lowers the ride height by 10mm for the Boxster or 20mm for the Boxster S.
This being a Porsche, the styling changes are subtle to say the least. Up front there are redesigned headlights incorporating Porsche’s new light design. The front bumper sports a new design too. To be perfectly honest the front reminds me a bit of the Panamera’s. The outgoing Boxster, to my eyes, is one of the prettiest designs to come out of Germany and I just don’t think this new one is as good. But it might look better in the metal.
Round the back there are styling new taillights but there’s one major thing missing – the spoiler no longer cuts into the taillight. That little styling detail always makes me weak at the knees. It’s trivial, I know, and serves no function but I thought it was a neat touch. I’m not quite convinced by the ‘Porsche’ badge placement on this new one too. Seems a bit tacky and an a bit forced. Oh, and if you hadn’t noticed, there are new rear bumpers too.
Of course styling is subjective and some might prefer this new look to the outgoing car’s It might even look different in the metal. What I don’t doubt is that the Boxster, er sorry, 718 Boxster will still be a great drive regardless of the smaller engines. If anything, the new more powerful turbo flat-fours will open doors to more new buyers for Porsche.
The 718 Boxster will make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show with European sales beginning in April. Now we wait for the 718 Cayman. Fingers crossed the 718 Boxster Spyder/GT4 will still have a six-cylinder engine.