Porsche’s given the 718 Boxster the GTS treatment, which means more power, and keener handling. Is it an improvement over the less 718?
The latest generation of Porsche Boxster, the 718, is a looker. Its lines are clean, purposeful, and, well, damn fine. Many have accused Porsche’s design team of being a bit lazy with new cars, but you have to admire a team that refines already fresh designs to make them even more… fresh. Still, over time they need a nip, tuck, and a bit more go, enter the GTS cars. More power, lower springs, Sport Chrono pack, Porsche Active Suspension Management as standard, and some natty trim bits as well.
Mind you, all of that will cost you more than £61k, which makes the forthcoming Alpine A110, or the much more practical BMW M2 look distinctly good value.
There are two members of the 718 family, the drop-top Boxster and the hard-top Cayman. Of the two, the Cayman looks smarter, a touch more complete. With its black hood, our Boxster’s blue/grey body looked a touch underwhelming – colour makes a huge impact here.
The interior is standard Porsche loveliness – aside from a few GTS badges here and there you could be in any Boxster. Fit and finish is top notch, so you needn’t worry about trim bits falling off at the lightest prod. It’s got Porsche’s latest infotainment system on board which is quick to respond and easy to use. The navigation especially shines – where others can be overly optimistic about ETAs, Porsche’s system appeared to accurately adjust timings based on up to date traffic reports. A huge bonus.
There’s no need to be worried about awkward driving positions in the 718 Boxster GTS, as that’s something of a Porsche party piece. The seats, like the ‘wheel, armrests, and centre console get some extra Alcantara details, but is otherwise bob on for the standard car. The ‘sports seats plus’ chairs (standard on GTS, optional on other 718s) comfortable and relaxed on a long haul, but if you fancy getting a little more spirited you’ll find yourself perfectly placed to do so.
How does it drive?
The most important part of a car like a Boxster is the noise – it’s the thing that you hear when you start up, the thing you treat yourself to in traffic, the thing that accompanies every journey. The 718 Boxster GTS does not sound good. You’d hope that Porsche could nail the soundtrack, but in reality there’s only so much it can do with a 2.5-litre boxer motor. At idle it sounds clattery, at motorway speeds it drones. Only when you get to the high end of the rev range doe it approach exciting, but even then it’s not the best noise in the world. Hardcore Porsche fans will be longing for the days of a flat-six motor resting behind their ears.
In all other areas, however, it’s utterly fantastic. Porsche’s steering gurus have created something truly wonderful in the Boxster GTS – the feedback on offer through the wheel is phenomenal, offering fingertip control. It’s so direct and confidence inspiring that you’ll find yourself pitching in to corners faster and harder than you’d dare to in most other things with a less than six figure price tag.
Throttle response is decent, and there’s a heft slug of power – 361bhp and 309lb ft – which is all well and good for a sprightly 4.6 second 0-62mph time (4.1 with an optional PDK gearbox), however, if the revs are below 2,000-2,500rpm you do get noticeable turbolag. Frustrating if you find yourself in the wrong gear and need to make a quick getaway. That wouldn’t be an issue in a PDK equipped car, of course, but in the manual…
Speaking of gearboxes, our test car came with a six-speed stick shift. Porsche’s clutch pedals often seem over long with a needlessly high bite point, the GTS’ suffers from this as well, though not as badly as older cars. Shifting itself is easy, if a little long. You get a firm ‘clunk’ when shifting gears, which is most satisfying.
The power and torque do make for, if you’re in the right gear, some pretty ferocious acceleration. Proper ‘pinned in to your seat’ stuff. It’s hilarious lower down the gearbox, but handy higher up – keep the car in sixth on the motorway, and if you drop to 50mph or so because of traffic/whatever you can simply give it the beans and you’ll find yourself at 70mph in no time.
Under braking the 718 Boxster GTS is stunning. There’s a good chance Porsche is employing actual wizards to make it stop as well as it does. They’re easy to modulate on the fly, and can take some serious punishment to get the car to stop very quickly indeed.
Should I buy one?
There’s no doubting the 718 Boxster GTS is a brilliant car, one perfect for hammering out decent distances or having a good ‘ol fashioned blat, but if noise is your poison of choice you’d best look elsewhere. As with the last generation Boxster and Cayman, the GTS is the sweet spot of the range – the extra power is welcome, and the car feels sharper than its lesser siblings. If you can get past the noise, the 718 Boxster GTS will see you right.