Review: Porsche 718 Boxster (2016)

Rating:

Updated Boxster gets new name and switches to four-cylinder engines. Quicker yet more economical than previously. Beautifully balanced handling. Comfortable and easy to live with day to day.

Engines lack the character and sound of the previous six-cylinder units.

Recently Added To This Review

27 January 2016 Porsche 718 Boxster launched

More powerful yet more fuel efficient, the centrepiece of the new model series is the 718 Boxster which develops 300PS from its turbocharged 2.0-litre engine. The 718 Boxster S has a 2.5-litre... Read more

9 December 2015 718 Boxster name revealed

The 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman will be the new names of the two-door mid-engine sports cars from Porsche effective with the introduction of the 2016 models. Both will have equally powerful flat four-cylinder... Read more

Porsche 718 Boxster (2016): At A Glance

The 718 Boxster sees Porsche rename its two-seater open-top sports car as part of a mid-life update. But there's more to this than merely a cosmetic nip and tuck. It may not look that different, but under the skin there are big changes with four-cylinder turbocharged engines replacing the six-cylinder units of the previous Boxster.

The purists will no doubt be up in arms but the change to smaller 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre turbo engines makes perfect sense. Both deliver more power - 35PS to be precise - along with more torque which means quicker 0-62mph times. Add in significant improvements in fuel economy and it's a no brainer.

With 350PS, the Boxster S is supremely quick with a 0-62mph time of just 4.6 seconds with the standard manual gearbox. We'd always recommend this as we think it's more involving, but the PDK automatic is also very good and provides faster acceleration with better official economy.

Inside there are minor changes, the most significant of which is a much improved touchscreen system which is far better than what Porsche had previously, both in its look and operation.

What's not so good with the 718 Boxster is the sound. Despite new exhausts, the flat-four engine can't replicate the same noise as the previous six-cylinder units. It doesn't have the same character either so while it's undoubtedly fast, it lacks that distinctive Porsche sound that's so recognisable.

That's not to say the 718 Boxster is disappointing. Far from it. Not only is it quicker but thanks to more torque and the fact the engines are now turbocharged, it pulls with even more gusto. Porsche has uprated the brakes to improve stopping power and the suspension has been tuned to make it even better through corners.

Like its predecessor, the 718 Boxster is a genuine sports car you can live with every day. It's comfortable and easy to drive, whether around town or on an open road, helped by an impressively forgiving ride and a light gearchange. Yet when you get it onto a more challenging road, it shows its natural qualities, with wonderful steering and huge amounts of grip instilling plenty of confidence. It forgives mistakes too and is no intimidating performance car, even when pushed.

The 718 Boxster, likes its predecessor, is the best two-seater performance convertible you can buy. It may not have the same character as before, but it makes up for that with sublime handling, strong performance and everyday comfort. 

What does a Porsche 718 Boxster (2016) cost?

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Porsche 718 Boxster (2016): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4379–4397 mm
Width 1994 mm
Height 1272–1281 mm
Wheelbase 2475 mm

Full specifications

Porsche hasn't gone overboard with the changes inside the 718 Boxster. But then again, it did have a strong base from which to start. The main difference is the new touchscreen system - as part of the Porsche Communication Management (PCM). It's standard on both models and comes with Bluetooth so you can take calls and stream music.

It's a far cry from the previous Boxster which used to struggle with connecting to an iPod (remember those). It seems Porsche has finally caught up with modern technology when it comes to infotainment. One strange omission is navigation which is optional on all models. Not that we should be surprised as Porsche has never been known for generosity when it comes to standard equipment...

Other new features are a redesigned dash top with circular air vents and a redesigned steering wheel. The rest is as you were with the same high quality fit and finish and tactile features like the thick metal door handles, comfortable yet supportive seats and the clever three dial instrument cluster with a digital display on the right.

It may be a compact two-seater but it's surprisingly roomy. Even if you're a six-footer, you'll find you won't necessarily need the seat all the way back while there's plenty of adjustment in the steering column. The seats are now mounted slightly lower meaning better headroom.

It's also practical for a sports car, with good sized door pockets, clever cupholders that slide out of the dash a half-decent boot (as such) and a good sized luggage area under the bonnet. You're not going to get half of Ikea in there, but there's certainly enough for several bags and a cabin-friendly suitcase on wheels.

The front passenger seat comes with Isofix child seat mounting points, so if you do have a little one to transport, you can do so safely once you've turned the front passenger airbag off. One oddity is the lack of a 12V socket. There are however two USB points so if you've got a dashcam or portable sat nav, you may need a new cable... 

Dropping the roof is straightforward at the push of a button (well pull actually) and it folds down smoothly and quickly. With the roof down the Boxster remains civilised and even at motorway speeds, it's not too windy on the move. When it's back in place, there's good insulation from the cold and noise. So much so that it's easy to think you're in a coupe half the time.

Child seats that fit a Porsche 718 Boxster (2016)

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What's the Porsche 718 Boxster (2016) like to drive?

If you've got this far (well done) you won't have missed the fact that Porsche has ditched the six-cylinder engines of the Boxster in favour of two newer four-cylinder turbo units. So the 718 Boxster gets a 2.0-litre with 300PS while the 718 Boxster S has a 2.5-litre engine with 350PS.

That's considerably more than before - 35PS in each case - which means the 718 is faster than the Boxster it replaces. The fact the four-cylinder engines are turbocharged means more torque too - 100Nm extra in the 718 Boxster - so both models pull even better from low revs and add to the improved everyday driveability of the 718.

As you'd expect given this extra power, acceleration is also quicker. The Boxster S fitted with the PDK gearbox and Sport Chrono Pack is around half a second faster from 0-62mph. Not only that but despite the increase in power, the newer engines are also more than 10 percent more frugal than in the six-cylinder Boxster.

So far so good you'd think. If only. You see, there are those people who had already started moaning about the loss of six-cylinder engines before the car had even been launched. They're often labelled 'purists', but whatever you call them, they're the kind of people who wear Porsche branded jackets in public. We all know the sort...

The thing is they're sort of right. Regardless of how good the 718 Boxster is - and it's even better than before in so many respects - the four-cylinder engines don't sound anywhere near as good as the six-cylinder units of the previous Boxster.

Even if you have a sports exhaust fitted and stick it in full-on Sport mode, it doesn't have the same character as before. We wouldn't go as far as to say it sounds like an old Subaru, but it's along those lines. Gone is that lovely howl at high revs, replaced by a not especially pleasant lumpy sort of sound. Don't get us wrong - it's loud, it's just nowhere near as enjoyable a sound as before.

In isolation, the 718 Boxster is still a great sounding sports car. If you're new to a Porsche - and have never driven a six-cylinder model - then you'll wonder what all the fuss is about. But if you're thinking about chopping in your older Boxster for a new 718 model we'd suggest you take a lengthy test drive beforehand. 

This may sound harsh, after all the 718 Boxster is still a superb car to drive. The mid-engined layout means it's wonderfully balanced with real agility through corners. Porsche has further modified the suspension for the 718 so it's even better than before with phenomenal grip - it never feels twitchy or loose at the rear.

What really makes it stand out is how easy and forgiving it is to drive. It's enjoyable at any speed and even for those not that experienced in high performance cars, the 718 is not at all intimidating. If anything it instils plenty of confidence, such is its stability in corners. It also has uprated brakes with better stopping power and a more progressive feel through the brake pedal.

The standard manual gearbox would always be our choice. Porsche has tweaked the gearbox so the change is not as heavy as before, making it easier to drive in traffic. But the PDK automatic has plenty of appeal, especially as it delivers incredibly quick shifts and let's you concentrate on the road with the gear changes just a paddle shift away.

The 718 Boxster manages that rare feat of being a true sports car that you can use every day. The ride is supple and forgiving, making it a very comfortable car for long journeys, plus it's even reasonably economical, with the manual Boxster averaging around 38mpg - according to the official figures at least. 

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
Boxster 38 mpg 5.1 s 168 g/km
Boxster GTS 31 mpg 4.6 s 205 g/km
Boxster GTS PDK 33 mpg 4.3 s 186 g/km
Boxster PDK 36 mpg 4.9 s 158 g/km
Boxster S 35 mpg 4.6 s 184 g/km
Boxster S PDK 39 mpg 4.4 s 167 g/km
Boxster T - - 187 g/km
Boxster T PDK - - 181 g/km

Real MPG average for a Porsche 718 Boxster (2016)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

89%

Real MPG

26–39 mpg

MPGs submitted

5

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Porsche 718 Boxster (2016)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Does sport mode increase fuel consumption?

I've just changed my Porsche Boxster 981 for a 718. I've only had one automatic in 44 years, but the PDK is fantastic. Anyway, I know the sport button gives you sharper responses but does it affect fuel consumption at steady speeds when cruising?
It delays upchanges, so yes, the car will use more fuel.
Answered by Honest John
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Key attributes of the this model are: Petrol engine, Convertible and Performance car.

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