While enthusiasts claimed the Porsche Boxster and Cayman were the most entertaining models in the German automaker’s lineup, some purists snubbed the mid-engined car just because it wasn’t a 911.
Engine: 2.5-liter turbocharged flat four cylinder
Output: 365 hp, 317 lb-ft of torque (309 lb-ft on manual models)
Transmission: 7-Speed Dual Clutch, 6-Speed Manual
Fuel Economy (MPG): 20 City, 26 Highway, 22 Combined (PDK)
Fuel Economy (l/100kms): 11.8 City, 9.2 Highway, 10.6 Combined (PDK)
Price (USD): $83,950
But now, as the newly named 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman show in the top trim GTS guise, the small sports car is far more serious of a performance vehicle than maybe even some 911s. With a new 718 Boxster GTS on hand, it became clear that these cars are no longer baby brothers, but legendary in their own right.
Powerful Turbo Found Midship
The most interesting aspect of the GTS is the eviction of the old naturally aspirated flat-six cylinder engine. While the engine served its purpose in past vehicles, the automaker seems to be backing away from naturally aspirated engines and embracing turbocharged motors throughout the brand’s sports car and family vehicle lineup. The GTS is no exception, earning a 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-four cylinder engine, but one that makes more power than the outgoing engine. There’s a hearty 365 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque on tap, although manually equipped vehicles have just 309 lb-ft.
That is a lot of oomph for such a small car, and Porsche does its best to keep weight low. Weighing in at just around 3,000 lbs, the 718 GTS manages to hide the fact that it has a high-tech transmission, mechanical limited slip differential, active suspension, power retractable roof and all the plumbing to keep that turbocharged engine cool under pressure.
Fast and Confident
Our model sports the PDK dual clutch transmission with 7 forward gears, and it’s an incredibly fast vehicle. Highway speeds arrive in under 4 seconds and the car will pull all the way to a top track speed of 180 MPH if you’re brave enough to face those speeds in such a small and lightweight vehicle. I was always impressed with how quickly the car can blast off to speed. The four-cylinder felt extremely gutsy, proving torque without having to rev the car out, which is how you’d operate the outgoing models. Peak torque arrives as soon as 1,900 RPM, so the 718 Boxster GTS feels like it’s being teed off and smacked with a driver.
To help the driver feel comfortable with that much power and speed, there are a few helpful features that build confidence. The Torque Vectoring system uses both a mechanical differential and brakes to limit and redirect power to individual drive wheels to allow for more consistent and sporty cornering feel. That works well with the stability system, which never quite feels like the 718 GTS is closing the door on you when you’re driving enthusiastically.
See Also: Porsche 718 Cayman S Review
The active suspension system means that the GTS model is 0.39 inches (10 mm) lower than other 718 models and continuously monitors and adjusts the damping forces at each corner. There are two modes, normal and Sport, and even though the base setting is quite stiff, the Sports mode is extremely communicative and engaging. The steering is nicely weighted, and Porsche once again holds the benchmark in this regard. Even as the automaker moves to electro-mechanically assisted steering, the car still feels extremely precise and engaging, something other automakers struggle with.
More Power Gives Off New Persona
The chassis and powertrain are an interesting combination, making this 718 GTS feel far more serious than its size would indicate. You have to be aware constantly of just how fast you’re going, and each corner arrives sooner than you’d expect. It puts the car at an interesting crossroads, as the reputation of the older Boxsters and Caymans was built on the handling capability that encouraged drivers to build your speed and maintain it through corners. This new version of the car is not only skilled in the corners but is extremely quick and powerful. It’s more forgiving in this way but switches its enthusiast-friendly approach for a more thoroughly enjoyable vehicle all around.
It has a different personality now, one that’s cooler and more hardcore than the outgoing bubbly and fun persona. It’s reflected through the unique GTS accents. The lighting is tinted to look more sinister, and the badging is all done in black, as are the center-mounted exhaust tips and large 20-inch wheels.
Inside, the GTS model comes standard with the Sport Chrono package, which adds a timer to the top of the center of the dashboard. There’s GTS lettering embroidered in the sporty bucket seats, which also feature Alcantara upholstery. You can find that material on the steering wheel rim, center console armrest, and door armrests as well. The 718 has a very focused interior, but it’s not to say its spartan. There’s a dual-zone automatic climate control system, and heated seats, which are always handy when the roof is down on a spring or fall day.
Then again, there’s hardly any penalty for having the roof up, too. The build quality of the roof is extremely good, and it feels like a coupe with the top up — that’s how quiet it is.
Not all Perfect
The downside, though, is that the engine and exhaust are fairly loud, and gets even louder when put into the Sport or Sport + mode. It doesn’t help that the 2.5-liter turbo doesn’t sound particularly good, especially in comparison to the old six-cylinders. The note can also drone, which gets a bit tiring during longer drives.
Additionally, this GTS model doesn’t come cheap. It starts at $83,950, which is a far cry from base 718 Boxster which costs about $20,000 less. Then again, thanks to its lightweight and right-sized proportions, hyperactive engine, and sporty features, the GTS is faster than a base 911, which is about $10,000 more expensive.
The Verdict: 2018 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS Review
That is an interesting position to be in. Many have speculated that the Boxster and Cayman would be better than the flagship 911 if it was given the right amount of care and attention. Porsche proves that the fans are right with this GTS model, which adds a ton of power to the car’s epic handling capabilities. It makes for a far more serious sports car and makes the GTS potentially as good of a car as the 911 it used to look up to. For those who don’t like the engine placement or rear seats of the Porsche icon, this 718 GTS is a perfect choice and just as fast (if not faster) to keep the purists quiet.
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