Do you dream of owning a Porsche 911? Many of us do, but only one version is priced below $100,000. If that’s a bit much, you might consider the Porsche 718 Boxster. The 911’s little brother is quite a bit more affordable, and it’s a totally engaging sports car. It’s the modern version of the classic Porsche 550 Spyder, a mid-engine open-top roadster with an enticing blend of power and performance.
A quick model tutorial: The 2021 Porsche 718 Boxster and 718 Boxster T are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter flat-4 engine with 300 horsepower. The 2021 Porsche 718 Boxster S is powered by a 2.5-liter flat-4, turbocharged to the tune of 350 horsepower. If you want a 6-cylinder engine, a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter one is used to power two models: the 718 Boxster GTS 4.0, with 394 horsepower, and the 718 Spyder, with 414.
Porsche’s mid-engine roadster competes with the Audi TT, the BMW Z4, the Jaguar F-Type, and the Chevrolet Corvette. While the Boxster is priced higher than these other entertaining rides, it’s still much easier on the wallet than its Porsche 911 sibling.
What’s New for 2021?
Several new features are standard on the Porsche Boxster for 2021. These include Apple CarPlay, 2-zone automatic climate control, heated seats, bi-xenon headlights and auto-dimming mirrors. Also, the 718 GTS 4.0 and the 718 Spyder are available for the first time with the 7-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission. See the 2021 Porsche 718 Boxster models for sale near you
What We Like
- Sublime handling
- Excellent interior quality
- The 6-cylinder engine in the GTS & Spyder models
- Two trunks: front and rear
- Excellent manual transmission
What We Don’t
- Turbo 4-cylinder engine lacks character
- Too many options?
- Gets expensive with options
The base 2021 Porsche 718 Boxster – equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission and powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque – is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency at 20 miles per gallon city/26 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined. That same car with the PDK automatic is rated at 21 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined.
A Porsche 718 Boxster powered by the 350-hp 2.5-liter turbo flat-4 is rated at 19 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined. That same car with the PDK automatic has an EPA rating of 19 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined.
While we haven’t seen EPA fuel economy ratings for the potent 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 (the one powered by the 4.0-liter flat-6 with 394 horsepower), the 414-horsepower 718 Spyder is rated at 16 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2021 Porsche 718 Boxster is available in the Boxster, Boxster T, Boxster S, Boxster GTS 4.0, and 718 Spyder models, which differ in style and performance. The Porsche 718 Cayman is the coupe version and is reviewed separately.
The base 718 Boxster ($63,350, including a $1,350 delivery charge) comes standard with 18-in wheels, summer performance tires, heated mirrors, heated seats, front and rear parking sensors, bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights, and 2-zone automatic climate control. It also has power-reclining front seats (manual fore-aft, height adjustment), partial leather seating, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth, the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) touchscreen interface, two USB ports, a media player interface, a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, satellite radio, an HD Radio and a 6-speaker sound system. The PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission, with seven speeds, is optional.
The 2021 718 Boxster T ($TBA), a more driver-oriented version of the base Boxster using the same 300-hp turbocharged engine, has sport suspension, driver-selectable drive modes, a lap timer, launch control, and Porsche Torque Vectoring. PDK is optional.
The 718 Boxster S ($TBA) adds the 2.5-liter engine with an extra 50 hp and some unique styling upgrades. PDK, again, is optional.
The 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 ($90,250), powered by a naturally aspirated 4.0-liter flat-6 engine, adds a sporty appearance package with 20-in Carrera S wheels, plus a leather and Alcantara interior. The Sport Chrono package (with launch control, a lap timer, and additional drive modes) is standard on the potent GTS 4.0 model, along with PASM Sport adaptive suspension.
The 718 Spyder (est $100,000). This car technically does not have the Boxster name, but we’re including it here because it’s the convertible version of the 718 Cayman GT4. Its unique roof can be folded and stored under the rear deck, which has streamlined fairings behind each seat. With 414 horsepower and upgraded suspension and brakes, the Porsche 718 Spyder has a top track speed of 187 mph.
An enormous options list ranges from performance enhancements and convenience equipment to custom features like color-keyed trim pieces. Virtually everything can be added a la carte, though there are a handful of packages available to simplify ordering.
Performance-enhancing items include the PDK 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), 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, and an upgraded Burmester audio system.
The 718 Boxster comes standard with anti-lock brakes, stability control, front knee airbags, seat-mounted side-body airbags, door-mounted side head airbags, 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 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Behind the Wheel
With its mid-mounted engine and rear-wheel-drive layout, the Porsche 718 Boxster is a delight to drive. It has outstanding balance and response. Its steering is razor sharp, and the driver always feels in control. However, the Boxster driving experience can differ greatly, depending on the engine and transmission you choose, along with the options you select.
Although the base 2.0-liter puts out 300 hp, it’s a little underwhelming and doesn’t sound that great. We prefer the 2.5-liter, even though it’s more expensive. We also like the manual transmission for increased drive involvement, even though the optional PDK is one of the best automatic transmissions we’ve ever driven. It shifts more quickly than the manual and it never makes mistakes.
The naturally aspirated 6-cylinder engine in the GTS 4.0 and 718 Spyder is a gem. It brings back some of the character that was lost when the Boxster switched to turbo 4-cylinder engines. Porsche purists prefer the 6-cylinder, and we can see why. The power and sound are positively addicting.
Options to consider include Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), which alters the suspension for optimal ride and handling. You can make the Boxster even sportier with PASM Sport, which lowers the car a bit, or by specifying the Porsche Torque Vectoring system. A Sport Exhaust system deepens the note of the turbo engine at the touch of a button.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Porsche 718 Cayman — The 718 Cayman is a Boxster with a fixed roof. It’s also a hatchback, which means it’s more practical than the Boxster.
2020 Chevrolet Corvette — New last year, the C8 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray has an available convertible roof and a mid-mounted engine. But it’s a powerful V8….
Used Porsche 911 Cabriolet —Porsche has a good certified pre-owned program, and a used 911 Cabriolet makes a good alternative to a Boxster. And you’d be getting a 911, the car that has defined the German brand for decades.
Questions You May Ask
What’s the difference between a Boxster and a Cayman?
Both 2-seat Porsches are based on the same sporty chassis. The Boxster is the convertible, with a folding fabric roof. The Cayman is a hardtop coupe, with a hatchback rear.
What’s the 2021 Porsche 718 Boxster warranty?
It lasts for five years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Where does Porsche build the 718 Boxster?
Porsche builds the 718 Boxster in Germany, in Zuffenhausen and Osnabruck.
What does PDK mean?
PDK stands for “Porsche Doppelkupplung,” the name given to the company’s impressive dual-clutch automatic transmission.
How did Porsche come up with the Boxster name?
The word Boxster is a combination of boxer (a horizontally opposed engine) and roadster (an open-top 2-seater). We think the name works well.
Of the 4-cylinder Porsche Boxsters, we’d opt for the 2.5-liter S because of its added power. But if you can afford the huge jump in price to the 6-cylinder, do it. The 4.0-liter engine totally transforms the 718 Boxster GTS into a world-class sports car, aided by the PASM Sport adaptive suspension. Although the 7-speed PDK automatic transmission is now available in the GTS 4.0, we’d stick with the manual transmission for added fun. Find a Porsche 718 Boxster for sale