What Is It?
Let’s start with the 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster and 2017 Porsche 718 Cayman. Both of these 2-seaters are based on a mid-engined/rear-drive platform and feature some radical revisions from last year’s Boxster and Cayman. These revisions are so radical that, while this generation started out with the factory code of 981, it’s now being referred to as 718. Porsche has admitted in the past that its numbering system has been a bit random, but this time it pays homage to the company’s famous 718 race cars of the late 1950s/early 1960s and has become part of the official name.
Besides the styling changes to the open-top Boxster and coupe-bodied Cayman, the 718’s biggest shake-up is in the engine bay. Traditionally, Porsche has used flat-6 engines, which is something of a big deal. Imagine a V6 fanned out so much that it’s flat and there are three pairs of opposing pistons. The way this engine sounds and delivers its power was all part of the Porsche mystique, but now it’s gone.
The new 718 uses a flat-4 with a turbocharger (the old 718 had a flat-4 too, but no turbo). The straight-ahead Boxster has a 2.0-liter version making 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. The Boxster S has 2.5 liters, 350 hp and 309 lb-ft.
Both models make more power than their predecessors while surpassing them in fuel economy, which was the whole point of making this enormous change. Porsche also says that it has improved their suspensions, though anyone who’s driven the outgoing models may wonder how on earth that might be possible.
The 2016 Porsche 911 R doesn’t have a turbo, which puts it at odds with most of the newer 911 models and certainly with the 718 cars. Actually, this model doesn’t have many things. This is a manual-transmission-only, rear-wheel-drive car, stripped down for greater driving thrills. Basically, it’s a 911 for the purists.
Back where other cars have their trunks is a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter flat-6 generating a remarkable 500 hp at a howling 8,250 revolutions per minute. And 339 lb-ft of torque chimes in at 6,250 rpm. This is a perfect recipe for fine-tuning the throttle through fast corners. This model can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.7 seconds, and it hits a top speed of 201 mph. But this barely begins to convey the visceral and aural thrills of a race-bred 911 pushed to something approaching its heady limits.
All of the model’s standard equipment was chosen well. It has ceramic-composite brake discs for strong and fade-free operation, rear-wheel steering for greater agility and stripes for, well, effect. The hood and front fenders are carbon fiber, the roof is magnesium, the exhaust system is titanium, and the rear window is lightweight plastic.
This is a limited-edition model, with a run of 991 units worldwide (991, incidentally, is the factory code for this generation of 911), so it’s going to be desirable and ultimately collectible.
The 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster starts at $57,050, the 718 Boxster S starts at $69,450, and the 2016 Porsche 911 R starts at $185,950.
When Can You Get It?
You can get the 718 Boxster, Boxster S and Porsche 911 R in June 2016. Porsche hasn’t given any details on the 718 Cayman yet, but December 2016/January 2017 could be a distinct possibility.
Add It to Your Shopping List Because…
They’re all Porsches, which means they’re all fantastic to drive and hold their values well.
Other Cars to Consider
2016 Audi TT — Audi’s new generation for 2016 is full of fresh and exciting tech. But it could be worth waiting for the more powerful 2017 TT RS.
2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray — Don’t laugh: This is the best-handling Corvette ever. Though the Stingray costs Boxster money, it has more than twice the power.
2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class — The SLC-Class is new for 2017. It used to be the SLK, which explains the folding metal roof. The regular version has 241 hp, while the Mercedes-AMG SLC43 version comes with 362 hp.
2016 Jaguar F-TYPE — This model kind of overlaps with the 718 and 911, depending on the version. It’s great to drive and look at, and it comes in coupe and convertible form.
Used Audi R8 — The R8 has standard all-wheel drive and provides a joyful driving experience. The first generation still looks wonderful.