New Porsche 718 Boxster GTS 2017 review
30 Nov, 2017 11:00pm
Porsche debuted the GTS tag with the sleek 904 racer back in 1964, but in recent times it’s become synonymous with models that strike the ideal balance between performance and usability. In fact, it’s given us some of Porsche’s finest driver’s cars to date.
The latest 718 Boxster GTS (and its fixed-roof Cayman sibling) are set to continue that trend. They finely mix a blend of more aggressive styling, improved performance and extra equipment into the basic 718 recipe, without going down the full spoiler and roll-caged-GT4 route.
Based on the Boxster S, the GTS’s visual additions are relatively subtle, but still give the car its own character. The front and rear lights feature a dark tint, which matches the black front and rear aprons, the black 718 and GTS badging, and the satin black 20-inch Carrera S alloy wheels. The car sits 10mm lower than a Boxster S – or 20mm if the sports chassis option box is ticked.
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The dark detailing is further complemented by a black interior finish with a pair of electrically-adjustable and Alcantara-trimmed ‘Sports Seats Plus’. There’s also an Alcantara-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel, and a similarly fuzzy finish to the gearknob, whether you opt for the six-speed manual or seven-speed PDK transmission.
Cars with the latter option also gain a pair of aluminium paddles behind of the wheel, while all GTS models come as standard with the Sport Chrono package. This not only adds a distinctive stopwatch to the dashboard, but also a small rotary dial on the steering wheel for selecting the various driving modes. GTS-badged Boxsters and Caymans also get Porsche Communication Management and its large central touchscreen as standard, which responds to smartphone-style gestures and hooks up to your smartphone of choice.
A tweaked version of the 718 Boxster S’s 2.5-litre turbocharged flat four provides the power. Porsche has revised the intake system and the internals of the variable-geometry turbocharger, and has turned up the boost for an output of 361bhp (16bhp more) at 6,500rpm. Torque varies slightly depending on whether you go down the manual or PDK path - it’s 420Nm for the former and 430Nm between for the PDK. Both breathe through a fruity centre-exit exhaust system with twin tailpipes.
And both are rapid on paper - switched to Sport Plus mode and using launch control, the PDK will cover the 0-62mph run in 4.1 seconds, while fancy footwork should see the manual cover the same metric in 4.6 seconds. It was the manual we tested at launch, which proved no hardship as its six-speed throw is among the slickest you’ll experience. It adds more depth to the driving experience, and is preferable even to the super-quick auto.
That’s despite the character hit the GTS inherits from other 718 models following their move from six to four cylinders. Objectively, this is a fantastic engine, and at its best yet in GTS form – it’s powerful right from low revs, very responsive to the throttle (particularly in Sport mode) and offers good on-paper economy.
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If you’re trading up from an old Boxster you’ll love the performance increase, but might be left feeling a little hollow by the unappealing, industrious machinations of the flat-four. Which is a shame, since the chassis is as fantastic as ever. Streaming wet roads on the Spanish launch made conditions pretty treacherous, but the low grip levels really brought out some of the 718 Boxster GTS’s best characteristics.
When the roads did dry you could turn in with real confidence thanks to the impeccable steering feel. It’s accurate and well-weighted too, which is ideal for enjoying the beautifully-balanced chassis. The engine’s hefty low-down torque means you’re only ever a small throttle-prod away from small, easily corrected slides, while the brakes are more than up to the task of shedding speed, and feel great underfoot.
The same applies to the Cayman GTS, which we were able to try for a few brief laps of the Ascari circuit in southern Spain. In some respects it’s the more appealing choice, the fixed roof muffling the four-cylinder note a little more and the price tag saving you a couple of grand over the Boxster. But whichever you choose, you’re getting one of the best sports cars on sale.
- Model: Porsche 718 Boxster GTS
- Price: £61,727
- Engine: 2.5-litre flat-four turbo petrol
- Power/torque: 361bhp, 420Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
- 0-62mph: 4.6sec
- Top speed: 180mph
- Economy/CO2: 31.4mpg, 205g/km
- On sale: Now