Maintaining its mid-market buyers for 2017, the Porsche 718 Boxster S gets boosts in horsepower and interior refinement

by Evan Monroe

When the Boxster and slightly more aggressively-tuned Cayman coupes were rolled out in 1996 and 2005, respectively, their intended market sector was critical for Porsche—buyers who lusted for the 911, but hadn’t the wallet for it. Now that the 911 Carrera Cabriolet starts at $111,000 and the convertible 911s top out at $122,600 for the Carrera 4S Cabriolet, maintaining a young/less wealthy buyer middle ground is more pivotal than ever for the Stuttgart-based maker.

For 2017, the Boxster and Cayman maintain the mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, and two-seat layouts of their predecessors, but switch lineup positions, with the Cayman occupying the entry point and the Boxster requiring a bit of a price premium. There are new thrills, however, for the 718 Boxster S buyer; first and foremost a horsepower boost to 350, thanks to a variable-vane turbocharger and larger engine displacement. In a true rarity for us reviewers, we see equal merits in both Porsche’s dual-clutch PDK auto gearbox as well as its six-speed manual. The latter reminds us of the heel-and toe glories of our youth, but the seven-speed PDK is so smooth and switches gears with such speed and uncanny driver anticipation that we are still in heated debate as to which to recommend (you’ll win either way). Zero to 60 times for both hover in the 4.5 second range (top speed is 177), and highway mpg is a remarkably green 28. The drop-tops also feature a dual roll-over/side impact protection system that creates survival space in the event of an accident.

Available for the first time with this year’s 718 models, the Leather and Sport Tex interior (in either black or a two-tone combination of Graphite Blue and Chalk) offers gratifying breathability (particularly essential in a convertible). The newly styled seam pattern of the Sport Seats Plus, with decorative stitching in contrasting color, adds yet another sporty detail. Also new for 2017 is the Porsche Communication Management PC system, operated by means of a new, seven-inch multi touch screen. The 718 Boxster S starts at $68,400 (base Boxsters start at $56,000).

Ray Catena Porsche
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