We’ve looked at the Porsche 718 Boxster before, so have a bunch of other people. So why are we looking at it again? Well, two reasons. First off, the first time I reviewed the Porsche 718, I focused a lot on the history of the 718 name and tried to give it a well rounded, overall review. This time I want to focus more on what it’s like to drive the 718 and why calling it things like a practical sports car doesn’t do it justice. The second reason, well, I just really like driving it.
For the history on the Porsche 718, check out our September 2016 issue at www.carmudimonthly.lk.
Now, I’m not going to spend too much time talking about the interior and exterior of the Porsche 718 Boxster, because in this review, I’m going to focus mainly on the drive. So let’s quickly get the aesthetics out of the way.
The Interior and Exterior
The two seater convertible follows the mid engined layout of the old 718. The exterior is undeniable Porsche, with wide and relatively unclutter front face, large scoops just behind the doors, to the sloping rear with seems to flow towards the center Porsche logo. Porsche is all about curves, with practically no straight lines to be found anywhere on this roadster. The large 20inch Carrera S rims in all white are a stark contrast to the darker grays of the body and fabric roof, almost inciting the image of the speed this two door is capable of. Despite being a roadster through and through, the 718 sits 132mm off the ground, which makes it more practical than one might first assume (for comparison, the Toyota Aqua S has a ground clearance of 140mm). The headlights on the 718 have quite a lot packed into them, including 4 point day time runners and Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS) which is Porsche’s active LED headlight system.
The interior is more of the same practicality mixed with luxury. The darker leather is accentuated by the lighter metal inserts, while the usage of circular design elements (such as the air vents, instrument cluster dials, steering wheel elements, headlight control, and key insert) creates an even flow of the dashboard. The diagonally raised center console provides an unbroken connection to the radio and the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) which features a 7-inch multi-touch screen that is easy to navigate and responds quickly. This not only makes the interior feel more sleek, but also aids in ensuring that the driver can easily transition between controls/buttons. There is however one flaw with this design, with automatic gear shift is positioned quite closely to the radio controls, limiting access to the radio a little. It’s not like you need to be a contortionist or anything, but it can be a little awkward when in park.
Other things to know, the position of the engine means that you have luggage space in the front (150L) and the back (130L). While the cargo spaces are both quite deep, they are a little narrow, but perfectly adequate however for most of your everyday needs. Now, let’s move onto the drive, the actual reason why we visited the Porsche 718 again.
The seats are a mix of racing style bucket seats and the more luxurious stuff you find in high end cars. Comfortable, yet designed to keep you in place during high speed turns. The steering wheel is small but solid, giving you confidence when you grip it but allowing for maximum maneuverability. Turning the key gives life to the 2.0L turbocharged flat 4 engine, which is capable of churning out 300bhp and doing 0-100 in just 4.9 seconds, but while those numbers are impressive they aren’t all the engine can do. The Porsche 718 is a beast with two heads, one is a calm and sophisticated day to dayer while the other is a manic animal that explodes forth with disregard for mundane things like rules and common sense.
The Sane One
The 718 Boxster does 7 to 8 kmpl in the city and better than 10kmpl on the highway. We actually got it to do a staggering 17.4kmpl on the highway, averaging 92kmph (check the photo!). This means that fuel economy wise, the roadster does as well as most standard cars in the market. The ride is comfortable, with it more than capable of dealing with almost any paved road in Sri Lanka. The 132mm ground clearance means that you won’t be pulling complex maneuvers just to get over speed bumps and the comfortable seats coupled with the Porsche Active Suspension Management means that you won’t need a chiropractor after a long journey. The steering on the 718 is controlled by Porsche’s Power Steering Plus system, so at lower speeds the steering is gentle and easy to control. You could very easily forget that you are sitting in a roadster, instead its similar to the drive you’d expect from a higher end sedan, calm and serene.
The roof can be opened or retracted at upto 50kmph, so you can go from a chilled top down cruise to a snug drive at the first sign of drizzle. With the roof up, there’s very little sound from the road, and once you crank up the 505 watt Bose surround sound system, even the most abysmal traffic logged commute home becomes enjoyable.
The Insane One
The road has cleared up and the engine’s gentle roar reminds you that under you awaits 300 horses ready to stamped. A quick shift to Sports mode from the dial on the steering (Porsche’s Sport Chrono) and the engine awakens, revving at about 3600rpm, the PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung) gearbox changes to shift at higher revs, the suspension tightens and the steering becomes stiffer. Put your foot down and you fly. This isn’t enough though, it’s not quite mad enough. So you shift the Sport Chrono dial again, to Sport Plus (performance mode), and now you are driving a race car. Surprised faces disappear faster than political campaign promises, and you’ve awakened the beast. The power seems endless and much like a magician pulling cards out of thin air, the 718 finds grip where there shouldn’t be any. You are pushed back in your seat, but you feel like you are in complete control. Still though, we haven’t quite passed the line of madness, we are merely standing on the edge of it. Look back to the Sport Chrono dial and you’ll see an unassuming button in the middle. It isn’t bright red nor does it have a warning label stating “Not for the faint of heart”, it’s just a simple black button. Press it, and for the next 20 seconds, the 718 gives you everything that a turbo charged 2L engine can. The revs jump up to 6500rpm, where all 300 horses are released, the entire car stiffens and explodes forward, whether you are ready for it or not.
That little button, referred to as the Sports Response button, is what pushes the 718 over the insanity line. On sports mode, the sports exhaust system automatically kicks in, providing the sweetest melody to the overwhelming power.
I am not a Porsche fan boy, nor am I attempting to make the 718 seem like the greatest piece of engineering ever conceived. There are faster cars, there are crazier cars, but there’s something about the way the 718 Boxster shifts from a plausible (though not completely practical) everyday car to a race track animal that makes you smile. It’s pretty, it can handle most of Sri Lanka’s roads, and if you can afford a 2 seater priced at Rs.28 million, its an amazing thing to own. Perhaps the only pitfall of this vehicle is the low engine position, which would mean that in our monsoon downpours, you may have to keep the 718 Boxster locked away. If you do have that kind of money though, I highly suggest you go talk to the boys and girls over at Porsche, its a drive you aren’t going to regret.
|Model||Porsche 718 Boxster|
|Layout||Mid-Engined, Rear Wheel Drive|
|Dimensions (L x W x H)||4389mm x 1800mm x 1280|
|Engine||1998cc, turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve flat-4, Turbo Charged|
|Transmission||7-speed dual-clutch PDK automatic|
|Max Power||300hp @6500rpm|
|Max Torque||379Nm @1950rpm to 4500rpm|
|Acceleration (0 to 100kmph)||4.9 seconds|
|Fuel Consumption (km/l)||~8 (City) / 10+ (Highway)|