Editor’s note: If you’re looking for information on a newer Porsche 718 Boxster, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Porsche 718 Boxster Review.
Porsche is one of those brands where messing with tradition really puts people’s undies in a twist. A front-engine Porsche? Water cooling the 911? An SUV??? Well, the 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster adds another reason to wrinkle a Porschephile’s nose, as the brand’s now-iconic roadster features turbocharged 4-cylinder engines in both the Boxster and Boxster S versions. The old ones had six cylinders free of forced induction and were indeed a tad more responsive and a touch more audibly thrilling. However, the 718 Boxster should be, for the most part, a reason to celebrate.
You see, those new engines are far more powerful, particularly down low in the power band. Not only is the Boxster quicker — it feels substantially quicker. Changes were also made to the manual transmission to make it easier to operate the clutch, while the suspension and steering were altered to improve both ride and handling. Though one can argue the merits of the new engines, there’s no debate that the 718 is otherwise the superior car to drive. It also gets revisions to its styling (though similar, everything apart from the trunk lids are new) and interior (slight design changes, new standard touchscreen interface).
So yes, the change from Boxster to 718 Boxster is controversial, but for the most part, it equals a better roadster that easily outpaces its competition. See the 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster models for sale near you
What’s New for 2017?
The 718 Boxster may look pretty similar to the vehicle it replaces, and indeed, there is much shared; however, it represents a substantial stem-to-stern overhaul. New turbocharged engines headline the changes, but there were also substantive alterations to the suspension, steering, manual transmission, driving modes, stability control, styling and in-car technology.
What We Like
Sublime handling; strong and efficient engines; excellent interior quality; highly customizable; reasonably practical for a roadster; easy-to-drive manual transmission
What We Don’t
New engines have lost some response and character; too many things are options
The base 718 Boxster is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. Every Boxster is rear-wheel-drive and comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission. A dual-clutch automated manual transmission called PDK is an option. Fuel economy is 21 miles per gallon in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg in combined driving with the manual. The PDK increases those estimates by 1 mpg.
The 718 Boxster S has a 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder good for 350 hp and 309 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is 20 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined with the manual. The PDK is essentially 2 mpg better.
Standard Features & Options
The 2017 718 Boxster is available in Boxster and Boxster S models, which largely differ by engine. The 718 Cayman is the coupe version and is reviewed separately.
The base Boxster ($56,000) comes standard with 18-inch wheels, summer performance tires, a fully powered retractable soft-top roof, a wind deflector, heated mirrors, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights, single-zone automatic climate control, power reclining front seats (manual fore-aft and height adjustment), partial leather seating, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth, the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) touchscreen interface, two USB ports, a media-player interface, a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, satellite radio, HD Radio and a 6-speaker sound system.
The Boxster S ($68,400) adds a bigger engine and 19-in wheels.
The options list is enormous, ranging from performance enhancements and convenience equipment to customization items like color-keyed trim pieces. Virtually everything can be added a la carte, though there are a handful of packages available to make ordering a little easier.
Performance-enhancing items include the PDK automatic transmission, the PASM adjustable suspension, carbon ceramic brakes, the torque-vectoring rear differential, a sport exhaust and the Sport Chrono package (extra drive modes, a stability control sport mode and launch control with PDK). Comfort and convenience items include adaptive cruise control, a blind spot monitoring system, keyless entry and ignition, LED headlights, power-folding mirrors, auto-dimming mirrors and automatic wipers (packaged together), dual-zone automatic climate control, a heated multifunction steering wheel, 10-way power seats (including 4-way lumbar and memory functions), 14-way adaptive sport seats (adds adjustable side and bottom bolsters, wider shoulder bolsters and a power-adjustable steering wheel), heated seats, ventilated seats, a full leather interior, a navigation system, a Bose Surround Sound audio system ($990), a Burmester Surround Sound audio system ($4,690) and Porsche Connect (includes Apple CarPlay and a variety of safety remote services).
The 718 Boxster comes standard with antilock brakes, stability control, front-knee airbags, seat-mounted side body airbags, door-mounted side head airbags, a rearview camera and parking sensors. The optional adaptive cruise control system includes a forward-collision warning and automatic braking system. There’s also a blind spot monitoring system available called Lane Change Assist. The optional Porsche Connect provides automatic emergency assistance and remote services like a stolen-vehicle locator and remote door locking/unlocking.
There have been no third-party crash tests of the Boxster.
Behind the Wheel
The 718 Boxster is one of the best cars you can drive, period. With its midengine, rear-wheel-drive layout, it’s inherently designed for optimal handling balance and response. Plus, its quicker steering for 2017 only enhances its razor-sharp reflexes and sublime control. However, your driving experience can differ greatly based on the engine and transmissions you choose, along with whether you select certain options boxes.
For starters, although the base 2.0-liter looks good on paper, it’s a little underwhelming in person. It just doesn’t sound or feel as invigorating as you’d hope from a car that can be this fun and that costs this much. Stepping up to the 2.5-liter, though even more expensive, is recommended. We would also recommend considering the manual transmission — yes, the optional PDK produces quicker shifts and is one of the best automatics produced, but the manual is easy to drive and adds back a layer of engagement that’s been stripped away by the turbo engines’ deeper well of low-end power.
An important option to consider is Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), which alters the suspension for optimal ride and handling. The gap between its Normal and Sport settings has been widened for 2017, making it more comfortable when you want it to be and more capable of attacking a twisting road when you need it to be. You can also further enhance handling by lowering the car with PASM Sport or specifying the Porsche Torque Vectoring system (a rear differential lock), while the Sport Exhaust system makes the turbocharged engine note a little more bassy at the touch of a button.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 Porsche 718 Cayman — Like the idea of the Boxster, but don’t really envision yourself dropping the top much? Well, the Cayman is virtually the same car but with a rigid roof that further enhances the 718’s handling abilities.
2017 Chevrolet Corvette — With its all-American V8 mounted up front, the Corvette is quite obviously a completely different performance animal. But the prices are comparable and so is the fun — though admittedly of a different sort.
2017 Jaguar F-TYPE — The F-TYPE also has its engine up front and boasts 4-, 6- and 8-cylinder engines, but its pricing and roadster layout are comparable to the Boxster’s. It lacks the 718’s precision but boasts a flamboyant character and gorgeous styling.
Used Porsche 911 Cabriolet — It costs more than the Boxster, but a used one should have a comparable price (and Porsche has a very good certified pre-owned program). The 911 Cabriolet is one of the finest convertibles and sports cars you can buy, and it certainly betters the Boxster’s practicality given its more spacious cabin.
Yes, the Boxster S comes with a hefty price premium, but its bigger engine is the vastly more appealing choice. We’d also stick with the 6-speed manual and specify PASM, the Sport Exhaust and the 10-way power seats with heating and ventilation (a must for a convertible).