2017 Porsche 718 Boxster Review
Edmunds expert review
The entry-level Porsche has had a thorough overhaul for the 2017 model year. Officially called 718 -- that's "seven-eighteen" not "seven-one-eight" -- the latest Boxster boasts a choice of two four-cylinder turbocharged engines. The base car has a 2.0-liter turbo with 300 horsepower, while the S has a 2.5-liter turbo with 350 hp. Both engines are more powerful and fuel-efficient than the six-cylinder models they replace. To complement the improved straight-line thrust, the suspension has been retuned and the power steering is more responsive.
Although the 718 is instantly recognizable a Boxster, many of the body panels are new. Some of the detailing, such as the new head- and taillights, is exquisite and the 3-D "Porsche" lettering at the rear is a key differentiator from Boxsters of old. Inside, the changes are modest, with attention focusing on an upgraded touchscreen display that's shared with the latest 911. The standard specification is improved, but in the best Porsche tradition, you can double the price of the car if you plunder the gargantuan options list.
Unlike the 911, which has its engine at the rear, the Boxster is midengine, which is a layout common to most racecars and the key to its remarkable agility. It also differentiates the Porsche from its front-engine rivals, which include the Audi TTS convertible, BMW Z4 and the Mercedes SLK. Other possible alternatives, though less refined, include the Alfa Romeo 4C and Chevrolet Corvette. Even among these excellent choices, the new Porsche 718 Boxster is at the top of its game and a class leader.
Standard safety features for all 718 Boxsters include antilock brakes, traction and stability control, hill-hold brake functions, integrated rollover hoops behind the headrests, knee airbags, thorax airbags in the seat backrests and head airbags in each door panel. Additional options include frontal collision warnings and a blind spot monitor called Lane Change Assist.
What's new for 2017
Trim levels & features
The 718 Boxster is a two-seat convertible and represents Porsche's entry-level model positioned beneath the 911 in the company's sports car lineup. Its sister car, the hardtop-only Cayman, will be updated later this year. Two models are available, the base 300-hp Boxster standard car and the 350-hp Boxster S.
Standard features include 18-inch wheels with high-performance summer tires (19-inch wheels for the Boxster S), bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights, a power-folding soft top, an automatically deploying rear spoiler, front and rear parking sensors, a wind deflector, water-repellent side windows and hill-hold brake functions.
On the inside, you also get cruise control, air-conditioning, a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, partial leather upholstery, six-way-adjustable seats with electric backrest adjustments, a universal garage door opener, a rearview camera, Bluetooth and a six-speaker audio system with satellite and HD radio and auxiliary input.
Many options are bundled or available as stand-alone additions and include adaptive LED headlights (also available for the standard headlights), headlight washers, automatic wipers, auto-dimming power-folding mirrors, keyless entry/ignition, an electronic differential, ceramic composite brake rotors, a variable-ratio steering system, a sport exhaust, adaptive cruise control with frontal collision warning and a blind-spot monitor.
One of the more notable options includes the Sport Chrono package that adds a stopwatch atop the dash, paddle shifters for the PDK transmission and additional sport modes. So, too, is the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) option with a lower sport-tuned suspension and electronically controlled dampers with distinct Normal and Sport modes.
Interior add-ons include dual-zone automatic climate control, upgraded and full leather upholstery, Alcantara faux suede trim, heated and ventilated seats, 14- and 18-way power-adjustable sport seats with memory functions, additional interior lighting, a navigation system, Apple CarPlay, remote and emergency telematics, a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound system and a 12-speaker premium Burmester audio system.
As with other Porsches, buyers can choose from a dizzying array of customization options that include wood, carbon-fiber and aluminum trim and contrasting colors for upholstery and gauges.
The One To Buy
For the vast majority of drivers, the standard 718 Boxster will exceed their abilities and expectations. The Boxster S will certainly entice aspiring racers, but the big price premium for 50 additional horsepower may be a deterrent.
Two new turbocharged, four-cylinder engines are available on the 718 Boxster. The standard car features a 2.0-liter turbo with 300 hp and 280 pound-feet of torque. These figures represent a 35-hp and 74 lb-ft improvement over the base six-cylinder from the previous car. Not surprisingly, performance is much improved. Porsche claims it accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, which is 0.7 second quicker than the old model. Top speed rises by 8 mph to 170 mph.
A six-speed manual transmission is standard and sends power to the rear wheels. An optional seven-speed dual-clutch unit (PDK) is also available.
The 2.5-liter turbocharged four in the 718 Boxster S develops 350 hp and 309 lb-ft of torque, a gain of 35 hp and 43 lb-ft respectively over the old Boxster S. According to Porsche's own figures, the 0-60 mph sprint improves by 0.4 second to 4.4 seconds. If you choose to specify the PDK automatic gearbox and Sport Chrono package, this falls further to 4.0 seconds. Top speed rises by 5 mph to 177 mph.
Official EPA fuel economy figures have yet to be announced, but tested under European conditions, the 718 achieved a 14 percent increase in efficiency compared with the old model. Improved fuel economy and reduced exhaust emissions are the primary drivers behind the switch to turbocharged engine technology, but this is still a high-performance car and if you drive it as Porsche intended, you won't come close to matching the EPA figures.
The success of the latest iteration of the Boxster will be defined by the new engines. That the 718 models are significantly faster than the old Boxster is undeniable. The increase in torque makes a huge difference in how the car feels, with midrange overtaking ability much improved. Above 2,000 rpm, when the turbo really comes to life, the Boxster pulls hard all the way to 7,500 rpm. The S delivers more off-the-line punch and is both subjectively and objectively faster, but few will feel that the standard 718 wants for performance.
Anyone who's driven the old model, though, will bemoan the loss of the signature soundtrack. The extraordinary intake wail and sonorous crescendo of the old six-cylinder engine has gone. This glorious noise, which has characterized the car since the 1997 original, was a key part of the Porsche's appeal and helped it feel special even at low speed. Porsche has engineered some pops and burbles into the exhaust of the new engine and it's not unappealing, but it fails to excite the senses to the same extent.
Engine aside, the key focus for the development of the 718 has been to improve the car's agility. To this end, the suspension and power steering have been retuned. The Boxster has always been the driver's choice in the premium roadster class, and these changes have only increased its margin of superiority. The midengine configuration gives the car a poise and composure that's peerless and also helps give the car a different feel from its pricier sibling, the 911.
The S is additionally available with PASM sport suspension, which lowers the ride height by 0.86 inch and offers retuned dampers. In our experience, though, this setup is unnecessarily stiff on all but the smoothest roads. The standard suspension is more agreeable on the sorts of less-than-perfect roads you usually drive on and still offers impressive levels of grip and control.
Both the standard six-speed manual and optional paddle-shift PDK automatic gearbox are fine companions, and the choice comes down to personal taste and budget. If you additionally opt for the Sport Chrono package on a PDK equipped car, Porsche provides a Sport Response button that primes the car to deliver optimal performance for 20 seconds. In truth, it's a bit of a gimmick.
Porsche has improved the power steering so that it now boasts plenty of driver feedback. Grip from the new, wider tires is prodigious and the uprated brakes stop with greater alacrity. The days are long gone when anyone could deride the Boxster as, "not a proper Porsche." This is a fine sports car in its own right, and although the new engine lacks the character of the old, it's still a clear class leader.
The interior of the 718 Boxster is a subtle evolution of the old model and continues to borrow heavily from its big brother, the 911 Carrera. It's a simple, elegant design in the best German tradition, and it's beautifully made. Few could argue that the quality of the fixtures and fittings or the craftsmanship is not befitting of the Boxster's lofty price tag. Of its rivals, only the Audi TT Roadster can match the aesthetic and tactile appeal of the Porsche.
There's enough room for drivers who are well over 6 feet tall -- not something that could be said of early Boxsters -- and the driving position will be ideal for just about anybody. There's a good view forward, but the design of the fabric roof badly comprises over-the-shoulder visibility. The roof itself, though, is exceptionally easy to operate, rising or falling in a little over 10 seconds at the touch of a button at speeds up to 31 mph.
Interior storage space is sufficient, with pockets in the doors, center console and the decent-sized glovebox. The Boxster's cupholders, which pivot and unfold from the dashboard, remain a work of art and add to the feeling that you're in something special. For a roadster, luggage space is impressive, too, with a deep, well-shaped 5.3-cubic-foot trunk in the nose supplemented by a shallower 4.4-cubic-foot space in the rear. Together they offer plenty of versatility, although golf clubs must ride in the passenger seat or stay home.
The primary change to the interior compared with the old model concerns the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system that's shared with the 911. This manages everything from the telephone to the suspension and can be upgraded with different modules, including satellite navigation and Apple CarPlay.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
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