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2020 Porsche 718 Boxster Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2020

Many of us aspire to the Porsche 911, and rightfully so, but a great alternative to the German luxury sports car with a price tag that's within reach for a lot more drivers is the Porsche 718 Boxster. The 911's little brother is actually a more pure, more engaging sports car, a throwback to earlier Porsche cars from a time when modest power and perfect balance (with the latter being an attribute of the mid-engine design) were the hallmarks of the brand. The fact that the Boxster has a strong family resemblance to the 911 doesn't hurt either.

The latest 718 Boxster and 718 Boxster S have only four cylinders and are turbocharged, producing more power and possessing a fundamentally different (if controversial) character than the engines in their predecessors. The GTS and Spyder models, however, have an old-fashioned naturally aspirated 6-cylinder.

Changes were also made to the manual transmission in the latest generation to make it easier to operate the clutch, while the suspension and steering were altered to improve both the ride and handling. Now more able to compete with the Audi TT, the BMW Z4, the Jaguar F-Type and the Chevrolet Corvette, the Boxster's one drawback may be its price, which can climb significantly higher than that of its competition.

What's New for 2020?

The T and Spyder trims join the lineup, and the GTS model gets a naturally aspirated 6-cylinder engine rather than a turbocharged 4-cylinder. r. See the 2020 Porsche 718 Boxster models for sale near you

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

  • Turbocharged engines have lost some response and character
  • Too many things are options
  • Tight trunk space

How Much?

$59,600-$96,300

Fuel Economy

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.

The 718 Boxster GTS packs a 4.0-liter naturally aspirated 6-cylinder engine making 394 hp and up to 309 lb-ft of torque. The new-for-2020 Spyder model uses the same 6-cylinder engine, but it makes an extra 20 hp in Spyder guise. The GTS and Spyder models are both manual-only with no PDK option. As of this writing, there's no official fuel economy rating for this engine from the EPA.

Standard Features & Options

The 2020 Porsche 718 Boxster is available in Boxster, Boxster T, Boxster S, Boxster GTS, and 718 Spyder models, which largely differ by styling and performance. The 718 Cayman is the coupe version and is reviewed separately.

The base 718 Boxster ($59,600) comes standard with 18-in wheels, summer performance tires, 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, 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, an HD Radio and a 6-speaker sound system. The PDK 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission will set you back an extra $3,210.

The new-for-2020 718 Boxster T ($68,500) is like a more driver-oriented version of the base Boxster using the same turbocharged engine with the same 300-hp rating. Upgrades over the base trim include a sport suspension, drive modes, a lap timer, launch control and Porsche Torque Vectoring. Upgrading to the PDK transmission is a $3,730 option.

The 718 Boxster S ($72,000) adds a bigger engine with an extra 50 hp and some unique styling upgrades. Like the base model, the PDK transmission is a $3,210 upgrade.

The 718 Boxster GTS ($TBA) is the entry level for the new naturally aspirated 6-cylinder engine, adding a sporty appearance package that includes 20-in Carrera S wheels as standard and a leather and Alcantara interior. The Sport Chrono package with launch control, a lap timer and additional drive modes comes standard on the GTS.

A new Porsche model for 2020 is the 718 Spyder ($96,300). This technically doesn't bear the Boxster name, but we're including it in this review because it's the convertible version of the new 718 Cayman GT4. It has a special roof that retracts into the rear deck with a pair of "streamliners" that's specific to the Spyder. This model makes 414 hp and comes with various aesthetic upgrades inside and out plus upgraded suspension and brakes.

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, a more expensive Burmester Surround Sound audio system, and Porsche Connect (includes Apple CarPlay and a variety of safety remote services).

Safety

The 718 Boxster comes standard with anti-lock 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.

The Boxster has not been crash-tested by the IIHS or the NHTSA.

Behind the Wheel

The 718 Boxster is one of the best cars you can drive, period. With its mid-engine, RWD layout, it's inherently designed for optimal handling balance and response. Its quicker steering enhances its razor-sharp reflexes and sublime control. However, your driving experience can differ greatly based on the engine and transmission you choose and 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 cost this much. Stepping up to the 2.5-liter is recommended, though it's even more expensive. We would also recommend considering the manual transmission. The optional PDK is one of the best automatic transmissions we've ever driven, and it delivers quicker shifts than the manual can, 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.

The naturally aspirated 6-cylinder engine that's new for 2020 in the GTS and Spyder models brings back some of the Boxster's character that was lost when it made the big switch to turbocharged 4-cylinder engines. For Porsche purists, the 6-cylinder is a worthwhile upgrade with more power and the satisfying sound that we missed from the old cars.

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 widened since the first-generation system, which makes 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

2020 Porsche 718 Cayman -- The 718 Cayman is quite simply the same car as the Boxster, but with a fixed roof. This hatchback design not only looks cool, but it makes for a car that's more practical and more affordable than the Boxster. However, you'd be missing out on drop-top driving pleasure.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette -- The C8 Corvette is all-new for 2020, with a mid-engine configuration and a standard V8. The Corvette convertible and the Boxster are in a similar price range and offer similar levels of driving thrills.

2020 Jaguar F-Type -- This Jaguar is another great option for a stylish luxury roadster in this price range, and it has a wide variety under the hood with your choice of 4-, 6- and 8-cylinder engines. It lacks the 718's precision but boasts a flamboyant character and gorgeous styling that's been revised for 2020.

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, although the back seats of the 911 are pretty useless.

Autotrader's Advice

Yes, the Boxster S comes with a hefty price premium, but its bigger engine is the vastly more appealing choice over the base model. The 6-cylinder GTS is great, but arguably not great enough to justify the jump in price. 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). Find a Porsche 718 Boxster for sale

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2020 Porsche 718 Boxster Review - Autotrader
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