Luxury car reviews: Test-driving the relaunched Porsche 718 Boxster S in Singapore
A harmony of both the present and past, Porsche’s 718 Boxster S is a statement in the streets
When Porsche first introduced the 718, the year was 1957 and Dwight D. Eisenhower was the President of the United States, Elvis made his last appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show and George Town, Penang became a city by a royal charter granted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We would only see the car for six years, but its name lives on. Now the technical wizards at Porsche are at it again and have decided to reintroduce the legend.
The 718 isn’t technically a new model per se, but it is the new name for the Boxster and Cayman models. I have had the opportunity to drive the 718 Boxster S in the warm sunny days of Singapore and the Boxster through the cold winter nights of England. They may carry the same name and familiar smile, but they are very different animals to drive.
Like with the 911, Porsche has decided to downsize its engines and implement turbo-charging pretty much across the board. The new 718 comes in a 2.0 L (300 hp) and 2.5 L (350 hp) turbo-charged guise and this is the first time in many decades that Porsche has featured a four-cylinder engine in one of their cars. Inside, the quality is as good as ever, featuring luxurious leather and high-quality trimmings. There’s plenty of room for both occupants so the feeling of claustrophobia never sets in, even with the top up. The car is packed with tech too, including the new Apple Play functionality, a digital LCD instrument dial and numerous driving aids. The cabin is spacious and one of the best features about the Boxster’s layout is its front and rear boots. This makes the car extremely practical for a two-seater and great for road trips. During my time in the Boxster in England, I drove more than 600 miles with three suitcases, two duffle bags and a backpack.
There are two transmission options available: a six-speed manual and a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic, though only the latter is available in Singapore. The Boxster S I drove featured the optional Sports Chrono Package which gives a few settings for boosting the performance. The shifts are blisteringly quick by any measure and setting up launch control is incredibly easy if you want to get the ultimate acceleration. Change a few traction and shift settings, plant your foot, the car holds revs briefly and then launches you into the horizon. You would have never thought this type of acceleration was possible in a 4-cylinder vehicle. The claimed 4.2 seconds to 100 km/h is easily attainable.
The Boxster featured a 6-speed manual which as you would expect, is a completely different driving experience. From the outside with the sports exhaust fitted, only a real enthusiast would be able to tell the small tweaks that separate the regular Boxster from the S, but as you climb in and drop the clutch you’ll notice a significant difference. The car is not quite as potent off the line, with a claimed 0 to 100km/h time of 5.1 seconds. In exchange, however, you get the pleasure of taking it to its full potential more often. You also get increased fuel economy and just as much fun through the twisty bits. It’s like having your favourite cake and finding out it has zero calories. You can eat it all day long, instead of picking at it, worrying about the unhealthy side-effects.
Driving the Boxster across the U.K. was captivating. Its efficiency, character and comfort, means you can push and push and it just begs for more. Never wavering, not once, regardless of whether you are cruising down the motorway or enjoying winding country lanes on one of Britain’s infamous B-Roads. My drive took me from south of London in Crawley, up through Central London then north on the A1 all the way to the East Midlands and the city of Lincoln. At one point I had spent more than six hours in the car and the fact that I wasn’t exhausted, tells you everything you need to know about how this Porsche performs. Throughout my journey, I battled rain, wind, fog and an angry estate home owner telling me to get off his driveway. Yet the car remained composed and whatever was thrown at us, we tackled with ease.
The 718 is the Gisele Bündchen of the roadster world. Beautifully exotic, yet still very German. And as I cruised into Lincoln, onlooker’s jaws dropped. However, I did have the top down in December, so on hindsight, they may have thought I was not quite right upstairs. Objectively, it really is a gorgeous roadster regardless of whether it’s got its top up or down and there’s not really anything on the road today that comes close to matching it for performance, looks and overall usability.
Porsche has gone back to its roots with the 718, bringing the best of the past and transfusing it with the present. It oozes charisma and delivers everything you ask of it. The only sad part of the experience was having to return the keys.
For more information, visit Porsche.
This article was first published in Palace 18.