The Boxster is Porsche's "entry-level" sports car, built on a mid-engine chassis with seating for two. For 2016, it's offered in four levels: Base, S, GTS and Spyder.
The Base-level Boxster is powered by a 2.7L flat-6-cylinder engine that makes 265 horsepower. The S gets a 3.4L version of the flat-six, tuned to make 315 horsepower. The GTS is also powered by a 3.4L, though thanks partially to a standard sport exhaust, the GTS makes 330 horsepower. The top of the line Boxster Spyder is powered by a 375 horsepower 3.8L flat-six, borrowed from the 911. Two transmissions are available: a 6-speed manual is standard and PDK 7-speed dual clutch transmission is optional on all four models.
Mileage is pretty good for a sports car, thanks primarily to the Boxster's low weight. Fuel economy for the base model is rated at 20 mpg city/30 mpg highway. The S does only marginally less well at 28 mpg highway.
Safety features include standard anti-lock brakes, traction control, Porsche Stability Management and a host of side, thorax and head airbags for both driver and passenger. LED indicator lights and tail lights help improve visibility in all conditions.
The base Boxster is very well equipped, coming with electric-assist steering, 18-inch wheels, a power-folding convertible top with rear heated glass. The rear air dam extends and retracts automatically at speed. The wipers are rain-sensing. Inside, the Boxster comes with leather seat trim, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and keyless entry are included.
The S upgrades the powertrain but it also upgrades the wheels to 19-inch. The headlights are HID and the sound system gets upgraded to a 7-inch touchscreen model.
The Boxster Spyder is new for 2016, and occupies the top rung on the Boxster performance ladder. With its 375 horsepower, it's the most powerful Boxster ever sold. It's more than just a powerful engine however, unique styling gives it a speedster look while a manually operated (but electronically latching) soft top saves weight.
Porsche is notorious for offering a very extensive list of customization options. The Boxster offers 4 additional wheel options, 2 types of power-adjustable seats that are available in a dizzying array of leather trim. A Premium package adds dual-zone climate control, HID headlamps and power-adjustable seats. Ceramic composite high-performance brakes are available, as is a sport exhaust system. In-dash navigation and Bose audio are available, so are color-keyed seatbelts, ventilated seats, several wood-trimmed heated steering wheels-- the list is very extensive.
Theis the best kind of back-to-basics approach. It's a performance car that doesn't focus on power or speed, but instead showcases the inherent brilliance of the Porsche 718 chassis.
To that point, the Boxster T uses the 718's base engine: a 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-4 with 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. If you stick with the standard six-speed manual transmission, the T adds a short-throw shifter, but Porsche's PDK dual-clutch gearbox is available as a $3,730 option. The benefit to going PDK is quicker acceleration; hitting 60 mph takes 4.5 seconds with the dual-clutch automatic versus 4.9 with the 6MT. But great as the super-smooth, super-quick PDK 'box is, I can't help but long for the manual in this car. Remember, outright speed is not the goal here, and the Boxster's flat-four is best stirred with a stick.
Besides, the T is all about driver involvement. It comes standard with Porsche's sport suspension setup -- something that isn't otherwise available on the base 718 -- as well as a limited-slip differential, sport exhaust, 20-inch wheels and the Sport Chrono package. That last bit adds the cool and useful push-to-pass Sport Response button on the drive mode selector, though you only get that with the dual-clutch transmission, so I guess that's another thing working in the PDK's favor.
The Good ~ Excellent chassis tuning ~ Perfect steering ~ Strong turbo power
The Bad ~ Engine sound isn't so sweet ~ Outdated infotainment tech lacks Android Auto support
The Bottom Line The Porsche 718 Boxster is one of the best two-seat sports cars you can buy, and the new T variant is an ode to the base model's inherent brilliance.
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