Kelley Blue Book Best Buys of 2017: Performance Car
A perennial top performer is now a complete package
For nearly twenty years the Porsche Boxster has been widely regarded as one of the finest sports cars money can buy -- regardless of price point. But the Boxster’s allure derived almost exclusively from its performance credentials, and practicality suffered as a result. With a newfound emphasis on fuel economy, connectivity, and everyday usability, the revamped 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster has effectively broadened its appeal while retaining the world-class dynamism for which the nameplate is renowned.
New Engine, New Tech
Adopting a turbocharged-4-cylinder in lieu of the outgoing naturally aspirated flat-6 will have some purists crying ‘blasphemy,’ but in typical Porsche fashion, the new engine manages to improve upon what many already considered to be perfection. Unlike its predecessor, the turbo-4 delivers strong, usable power from about 3,000 rpm all the way up to its lofty 7,500 rpm limit. In other words, the Boxster now provides the low-end torque necessary to make quick passes without resorting to mandatory downshifts and revving the engine to the moon. And despite a notable bump in output (300 horsepower, 280 lb-ft), the 2.0-liter flat-4 returns up to an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Better yet, our test unit handily exceeded the EPA’s figures in real-world conditions by returning 34.4 mpg on the highway at an average speed of 72 mph. The higher-performing Boxster S’s additional 50 horsepower and 29 lb-ft of torque have but a nominal impact on fuel economy, though the impact on your wallet is another story (+$12,400).
In-vehicle infotainment has long been the Boxster’s Achilles’ heel…until now. Thanks to a comprehensive overhaul, Porsche's PCM has gone from one of the least desirable touchscreen multimedia systems to one of the best. Flagship phone-like response times, vivid graphics, and sharp, easily discernable icons combine with an optional LTE hotspot and Apple CarPlay integration to produce a connected car experience befitting a class-leader. Helping to mitigate distraction is a standard instrument cluster display that projects media, navigation, and phone information along with pertinent performance data like lateral g forces and lap times. Topping it all off are two superb-sounding audio systems by Bose and Burmester that look as good as they sound.
Harmony Between Human and Machine
Virtually every car against which the Boxster competes can accelerate and corner with a high degree of competence. Where the Boxster distinguishes itself from the competition is in the area of feel. Boasting telepathic steering, seamlessly linear brakes, and a chassis and suspension that work together as if they were a single entity, it’s all blended masterfully with the Boxster’s impeccably balanced mid-engine package to stimulate a driving sensation once reserved for half-million-dollar supercars. Add to that an ultra-precise manual gearbox, lighting-fast 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, frugal 3,000-lb curb weight, and a well-insulated convertible soft-top capable of deploying and retracting in about 10 seconds at speeds up to 35 mph, and it’s safe to say the Porsche 718 Boxster transcends the fundamental qualities of a traditional sports car.
Value + Peace of Mind
The 718’s revised packaging structure makes a comparatively compelling value statement as well, particularly when you factor in laudable residual values and Porsche’s enviable reputation for quality and reliability. At its $57,000 starting price, however, the Boxster doesn’t exactly impress from a features standpoint. In our opinion, the value play is a 718 outfitted with the Premium Plus Package…and nothing more. This means you’ll drive away with premium niceties like heated and ventilated front seats, dynamic headlight control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, dual-zone climate control, full LED interior lighting, leather, and, most importantly, Porsche’s legendary 18-way power front seats all for right around $65,000.
This equipment roster, together with exceptional build and materials quality, produces an interior that’s not only beautiful, but functional. Speaking of which, the mid-engine layout allows for the inclusion of front and rear trunks, meaning the Porsche 718 Boxster can accommodate two full-size carry-ons with room to spare. Because a driving experience like this deserves to be shared.
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