By Matt Degen
The 2017 Porsche Boxster is marking its 20th year as an all-new creation with new powerplants, new technology and even sharper design. Now in its fourth generation and called the 718 Boxster, Porsche's 2-seat roadster is powered by a choice of two turbocharged 4-cylinder engines that enable blistering acceleration, while the car's chassis and dynamics have been further honed for razor-sharp handling. Even a base Boxster is a dynamic and fun performer, while the more powerful Boxster S will make you howl. While the BMW Z4 and Mercedes-Benz SLC offer retractable hardtops, and the Jaguar F-Type and Chevy Corvette have more grunt, few sports cars can match the balance, refinement and sheer athleticism of the new Porsche 718 Boxster.
The 2017 Boxster isn't some mere 911 aspiration: It's a Porsche through and through. Though many of these convertibles will no doubt spend a casual life loping along the coast, the Boxster is imbued with the ability to transform ordinary roads into ribbons of delight.
If ride comfort and a solid roof are more important to you than dynamism, the Mercedes-Benz SLC and BMW Z4 roadsters come with retractable hardtop roofs. If you're more about raw muscle, the Chevrolet Corvette has twice as many cylinders as the Boxster and arrives in a similar price range.
All-new for 2017 and now in its fourth generation, this Porsche Boxster arrives with a choice of two turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, sleek looks inside and out, new technology and a new designation: 718. Its hardtop sibling, the Cayman, is set to undergo a similar transformation.
This new Boxster may be an "entry-level" Porsche, but there's nothing entry-level about its performance. A base model with the 300-horsepower 2.0-liter engine and manual transmission will push the envelope...
... farther than most drivers will even venture. As before, the Boxster employs a flat engine mounted in the middle of the car, giving this roadster excellent balance. The new turbocharged engine delivers power urgently and without lag. If you're an enthusiast, you need to at least try the 6-speed manual transmission. Opt for Porsche's 7-speed automatic PDK, and you'll get a transmission that's so smooth you may not perceive gear shifts. Switching drive modes to Sport or -- with the chrono package -- Sport+ changes the Boxster's personality, making it more aggressive and quicker off the line. The 2017 Boxster S, with a 2.5-liter turbo-4 packing 350 horsepower, has a fiercer attitude and boasts 0-60-mph blasts in four seconds flat.
PREMIUM FIT AND FINISH
The Boxster is an excellent athlete, but it's also a gentleman. As with other modern Porsches, it is luxurious and offers a wealth of creature comforts. From the responsive 7-inch touch screen to the leather seats and available Burmester audiophile sound system, the new 718 Boxster knows how to pamper.
While the 2017 Boxster marks its 20th model year and fourth generation, its familial ties date far longer, and its new 718 designation honors that. This German roadster's lineage traces to the Porsche 718 of the late 1950s and 1960s, which spawned race cars that won major events.
The Boxster remains a 2-passenger roadster, providing a leather-wrapped cocoon for the driver and one lucky passenger. The sport seats are supportive, split by a narrow armrest and jet-like transmission tunnel and, above that, 7-inch touch-screen audio and communication system. The new steering wheel is derived from the Porsche 918 supercar, and features an easy-to-flick switch that toggles between drive modes. Speaking of steering wheels, the GT version’s has a smaller diameter. Interior space is not abundant but there are small rear and front trunks, a perk of having the engine in the middle of the car.
Just look at those deeply sculpted side sills, that raked windshield and elegant tail. We see speed, beauty and heritage even at a standstill. As befitting a roadster, the 718 Boxster is at its best with the fabric roof down, but it’s by no means ungainly with it up, especially if you elect one of the optional colors. The more powerful Boxster S model stands out with 19-inch wheels in favor of the 18s on standard models, and a twin tailpipe that, like the base model, peeks out the center rear. Up front, exquisite bi-xenon headlights shine bright on both models.
Aside from the prestige of owning a Porsche and the ability to dispense of most other cars at will, a 2017 718 Boxster comes with a power-operated fabric roof, HomeLink garage-door opener, front and rear parking sensors with rearview camera, and black, tan or gray interior with seats in partial leather. The standard infotainment system includes a 7-inch touch screen and 6-speaker/110-watt audio system with AM/FM/Satellite/HD Radio with CD/DVD drive, 11-gig internal storage and inputs for USB and SD cards. Bluetooth phone connectivity is standard. Boxster S models include a more powerful engine, larger wheels and a higher top speed (177 mph).
A 2017 Boxster can be highly personalized. From the color of the cabin’s leather to 14- or even 18-way-power seats, carbon-ceramic brakes or torque-vectoring technology, dozens of options are available both a la carte and as part of packages. The Sport Exhaust System provides an even more thrilling soundtrack, as do the Bose or Burmester audio systems. Navigation is available, as are climate-controlled seats and a heated steering wheel. Optional driving aids include adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring, while the Sport Chrono Package includes the Sport+ mode for sharper performance, central-mounted analog/digital stopwatch, and launch control on automatic-transmission models.
Two turbocharged 4-cylinder engines are available for the 718 Boxster. Standard models use a 2.0-liter that, while smaller than the outgoing 6-cylinder, makes more power. The 718 Boxster S has a 2.5-liter turbo-4 that generates 350 horsepower. Because the engine is mounted in the middle and is a flat, or "boxer" design, this Porsche has excellent balance. Boxsters are rear-wheel drive, and power transmission to the wheels is immediate and delightful. In an effort to save fuel, Boxsters use an engine start/stop system that cuts power at idle. If you find it too abrupt, as we did in city traffic, it is defeatable with the touch of a button.
2.0-liter turbocharged flat-4
300 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
280 lb-ft of torque @ 1,950-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 mpg (manual), 22/29 mpg (automatic)
2.5-liter turbocharged flat-4
350 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
309 lb-ft of torque @ 1,900-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/26 mpg (manual), 21/28 mpg (automatic)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just over $57,000 for a base model and over $69,000 for an S model. Of course, this is just the start. Add options, and you can easily lift these prices by thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars. At its starting price, the new Boxster is more expensive than the Mercedes-Benz SLC, BMW Z4 and Audi TT, and below a Jaguar F-Type and Chevrolet Corvette convertible. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying to make sure you're getting the best deal. If history repeats, the Porsche Boxster's resale value will continue to be above average.