2021 Porsche 718 Boxster
- Summer 2020
What to expect
- New GTS 4.0 trim with a 4.0-liter non-turbo six-cylinder engine
- GTS 4.0 makes 394 horsepower
- Turbocharged four-cylinder Cayman (base, S and T trims) will still be available
- Part of the fourth 718 Cayman generation introduced for 2017
What is it?
When Porsche renamed its Boxster the 718 Boxster back in 2017 and replaced the car's six-cylinder engine with a turbocharged four-cylinder, part of the connection to the 911 — something so intrinsic to the Porsche experience — was lost. There's nothing wrong with the four-cylinder 718's performance certainly, but the driving experience, especially with the top was down, lacked some all-important aural emotion.
Last year, Porsche moved to rectify the discrepancy with the reintroduction of the six-cylinder-powered 2020 718 Spyder. But with a price nearing $100,000, and reduced comfort and practicality, the Spyder has narrow appeal. Solution? For 2021, Porsche is releasing the 718 Boxster GTS 4.0.
It has the same naturally aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six engine as the Spyder, albeit with a bit less horsepower (394 horsepower compared to 414 hp in the GT4). You do, however, get all the comfort and accoutrements you'd expect from the GTS model line. Notably, Porsche is making the six-speed manual transmission standard equipment. For now, the Cayman's PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission isn't offered in the GTS.
What does it compete with?
Convertible sports cars are getting a little rare these days, but the 718 Boxster GTS certainly doesn't have the run of the segment. BMW offers its new Z4, for instance, and the Jaguar F-Type convertible is another appealing alternative. Perhaps the most serious challenger is the all-new Chevrolet Corvette convertible, which offers just as much of the sports car experience as the Porsche but at a lower price.
How does it drive?
The Boxster is, without a doubt, a convertible sports car. And because of that, it drives unlike most anything else it competes against. To get the full GTS 4.0 experience, it's important to begin with the top down before starting the engine. With the twist of the left-hand mounted key, that familiar and evocative whir settles down into a slightly clattery idle. A brief prod of the throttle pedal sends the revs up and reminds you just how good a naturally aspirated flat six-cylinder engine sounds.
Lightness is the name of the game as both the clutch and gear lever move with ease but still maintain a satisfactory mechanical feeling. The steering, too, feels light but not in the sense of being overly assisted. There's an uncommon amount of feel for a car in this segment too, and the Boxster GTS responds quickly without being darty. You'll soon find yourself a bit conflicted — should I relax and enjoy some top-down motoring on a lovely day, or should I downshift a couple of gears and let it rip?
Thankfully, the new-to-the-GTS 4.0-liter engine makes that decision an easy one. Revving it out to its 7,800 rpm redline will give even the most cynical enthusiast the tingles. But it's wise to keep the driving mode in Sport (Sport Plus will work, too) as the Boxster GTS 4.0 uses a cylinder deactivation system to improve efficiency under certain light-duty circumstances. While the switchover cannot be felt, it can certainly be heard. And after listening to the flat-six howl, hearing the flat-three grumble is a bit off-putting.
What's the interior like?
The GTS 4.0 retains the familiar layout of other 718 Boxsters, albeit with an extra dose of simulated suede upholstery. The fuzzy stuff covers the seat centers, door panels, armrests, shift lever and steering wheel. As with any Porsche, you can further tailor the interior to suit any whim or taste (or lack thereof). The GTS' standard sport seats are well shaped and supportive. The optional Full Bucket race-style seats hold you in even more snugly, but they're primarily meant for track driving, not daily commuting, and they would not make for a comfortable experience on a warm summer's day.
How practical is it?
Because of its convertible top, the Boxster loses some of the Cayman's practicality. That said, the Boxster holds 9.5 cubic feet between its front and rear trunks, which is a decent amount as long as you're not trying to take on anything bulky. For comparison purposes, BMW's Z4 holds 9.9 cubic feet. The new Chevrolet Corvette convertible holds 12.6 cubic feet.
What else should I know?
Should you not want the full sport experience of the 20 mm lower suspension on the GTS 4.0, Porsche offers a middle ground with a 10 mm lower ride height, which promises a bit more ground clearance and a slightly softer spring rate. The Boxster GTS, like all other GTS models, though not inexpensive by any means, offers good value for the standard equipment when compared to a similarly optioned-up S model. You also get the 4.0-liter flat-six engine, which kind of makes the GTS worth the extra cost all by itself.
While the 718 Boxster is undeniably one of the best-handling convertible sports cars on the market, you could previously point to the car's lackluster turbocharged four-cylinder engine as a reason for a compromised résumé. Porsche has fixed this for 2021, however, with the introduction of the GTS 4.0 trim and its 394-horsepower 4.0-liter flat six-cylinder engine and six-speed manual. The new GTS has reignited our enthusiasm for the mid-engine Porsche and we can't wait to drop the top in the name of further evaluation.