Performance Car Best Buy of 2018
Porsche's first-tier windwalker returns for a repeat performance
That a mid-engine, 2-seat Porsche sports car would collect awards is not surprising. That it might be the year's best sports-car value, however, is a notion that may take some getting used to. Take your time -- the Porsche 718 Boxster convertible's got patience, and this is the second year in a row that it's earned our Best Buy Award in the Performance Car category. That's a significant achievement, and while the 2018 Porsche 718 Boxster hates to make you wait when you don't want to -- sprinting to 60 mph and dancing along twisty mountain roads, or trying to get the power-operated fabric top down at a stoplight -- it doesn't mind taking its time to win you over.
If you're going to carry a Porsche crest on your hood, you'll be expected to be able to tuck hard into decreasing-radius corners and pull off heart-stopping acceleration and time-stopping braking -- all like it was second nature. That's where the 718 Boxster lives. The Porsche's chassis and electric steering become part of the driver's central nervous system, responding cleanly, as if by thought, to the driver's whims or wisdom about how to carve up a road (and compensating with safety technology if said driver runs out of talent). You don't even need to push the "Sport" button on the center console to sense the capabilities bred into the Boxster. True to Porsche form, the Boxster brakes drag speed off the convertible's clock without hesitation or drama.
Porsche offers a choice of two turbocharged, horizontally opposed 4-cylinder engines -- a 300-horsepower 2.0-liter and a 350-horsepower 2.5-liter. Both powerplants are matched divinely to either a liquid-shifting 6-speed manual transmission or Porsche's $3,200 7-speed PDK double-clutch automatic (think perfect, lightning-quick shifts). For those who can't stop at more than enough, an even more robust GTS version of the 718 Boxster is scheduled to appear in spring of 2018. The 2.0-liter turbo-4 can sometimes get bogged down pre-spool, but doesn't mind being dropped into 1st gear to maintain momentum.
There's That Feeling Again...
Driving a 718 Boxster feels like a once-in-a-lifetime experience, every time -- like you're getting away with something. In her notes, one of our editors summed up the truth about the 718 Boxster -- and all great sports cars -- with one, PhD-worthy line: "This car feels as if every aspect was designed simultaneously."
Inside, that theme is played out beautifully and purposefully, with a 3-spoke steering wheel framing the simple instrument panel highlighted by a giant tachometer in the center. The interior materials and build quality breathe craftsmanship. The base Boxster's 7-inch touch-screen display feels small, but Porsche's infotainment system is extremely user-friendly, with one of the easiest Bluetooth connections around.
Two leather-clad sport seats provide excellent torso support through the fun corners, and when you're lazing, the car's ride and driving ease treat you with unexpected comfort. Likewise, even our 6-foot, 5-inch editor noticed that there was shockingly little wind buffeting in the cabin with the top down.
True, the Boxster starts at about $58,500, which makes it a bit of a reach for most of us. For our crowd, a sporty car like the Mazda MX-5, nee Miata, will complete your self-esteem and deliver much of the same breezy spirit as the Boxster, if not the same levels of performance. Like a great luxury car, the value of a great sports car centers on a lot more than just money spent -- an essential sixth sense of car ownership that reassures you that you're driving the car you were meant for.
To become a Best Buy Award winner, however, a car -- even a sports car or luxury car -- must also respect your money and what you're spending it on. The 2018 Porsche 718 Boxster delivers on that promise as well. Last year, the Boxster and its hardtop brother -- the 718 Cayman -- took the top two Performance Car spots in our 2017 Best Resale Value Awards competition. That means it'll hold on tight to its value over time. The Boxster won't waste your money during the time you own it, either, with a projected 5-year Cost to Own that's lower than most of the other sports cars in its class.
Need more practicality? Beyond its open-air/closed-comfort dual personality, consider the Boxster's mid-engine surprise of giving you front and rear trunks, and the practical fact that its fuel-economy figures ain't half bad for a sports car -- reaching nearly 30 mpg on the highway, and always doing better than 20 mpg in the city.
Video Tour: 2018 Porsche 718 Boxster
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