Porsche 718 Boxster GTS

While Porsche’s coupé of­fer­ings trade lap times, it’s easy to over­look the old-school charm of­fered by a stick-shift Boxster

Car (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

BARELY 2 km into my stint be­hind the wheel and mere mo­ments af­ter a slip­pery mo­ment on a greasy au­tumn-bathed section of wind­ing Span­ish road, the ner­vous look on my co-driver’s face mag­ni­fies as I slow to 50 km/h be­fore reach­ing for the but­ton to lower the Boxster GTS’ roof. With the cabin ex­posed, I in­hale a deep breath of crisp 15 ˚C air be­fore di­rect­ing heat-filled vents to­wards our hands and feet, and switch our stan­dard-fit­ment heated seats to their max­i­mum set­tings. Road-trip bliss.

Of­ten con­sid­ered the light­weight op­tion in Porsche’s heavy-hit­ting line-up, the Boxster nev­er­the­less of­fers a com­pelling com­bi­na­tion of care­free, top-down ex­u­ber­ance and (rel­a­tively) light­weight pre­ci­sion in a mid-en­gine pack­age that ar­guably boasts bet­ter all-round bal­ance than the 911 fam­ily of cars.

Adding to the ap­peal of the cur­rent 718-gen­er­a­tion Boxster and Cay­man range are new GTS vari­ants that of­fer both styling en­hance­ments for added on-road pres­ence, as well as a suit­able in­crease in per­for­mance and pre­ci­sion.

Distin­guish­able by a be­spoke front apron, stan­dard black 20-inch Carrera S al­loy wheels and black, cen­trally mounted sport-ex­haust tailpipes, like the 911 GTS, these top-of-the-range 718 sib­lings flaunt tinted headand tail­lamp clus­ters. Along­side the in­clu­sion of Porsche Ac­tive Sus­pen­sion Man­age­ment, there’s

a 10 mm drop in ride height over S vari­ants.

A high­light of the 718 GTS pack­age is the stan­dard rac­ingderived sports seats that not only look great, but also of­fer op­ti­mal sup­port and com­fort, even when cov­er­ing long dis­tances. A healthy smat­ter­ing of Al­can­tara, as well as the up­grades as­so­ci­ated with the usual Sport Chrono pack­age, makes the Boxster GTS’ cabin, in par­tic­u­lar, feel more spe­cial (and racier) than those of the less-pow­er­ful mod­els in the range.

While the de­ci­sion to re­place the pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion Boxster and Cay­man’s flat-six en­gine with a tur­bocharged four was al­ways go­ing to gar­ner crit­i­cism, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the former pow­er­train’s soul­ful ex­haust note, the re­al­ity is the change will likely only be no­ticed by those fa­mil­iar with how good the six sounds. For the rest, there’s plenty to savour in the way the up­rated four-pot boxer unit in the 718 GTS range goes about its busi­ness. Fea­tur­ing a re­de­vel­oped in­take duct and a re­vised vari­able-vane tur­bocharger (with boost in­creased from 1,1 to 1,3 bar), the new ver­sion of­fers not only 11 kw more than an S de­riv­a­tive, but also 26 kw and 70 N.m more torque than the pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion Boxster/ Cay­man GTS. Mated with a seven-speed PDK trans­mis­sion, this trans­lates to 430 N.m de­liv­ered to the rear wheels be­tween 1 900 r/min and 5 000 r/min, while in the six-speed man­ual op­tion there’s 420 N.m of­fered up to 5 500 r/min.

Un­doubt­edly the faster of the two (0-100 km/h in 4,3 as op­posed to 4,6 sec­onds), it was the bril­liantly slick and in­tu­itive PDK ‘box that I most ap­pre­ci­ated while lap­ping the won­der­fully tech­ni­cal Cir­cuit As­cari out­side Mar­bella, Spain. Left to its own de­vices, or coaxed via steer­ing wheel-mounted pad­dles, there’s lit­tle doubt these types of trans­mis­sions have reached a level where their work­ings su­per­sede any­thing a man­ual shifter can ac­com­plish when it comes to get­ting from one point to another in a hurry.

That said, if you’re pre­pared to get to your des­ti­na­tion just a frac­tion later, and that tar­get hap­pens to be on the other side of a moun­tain pass or coastal road, there’s no doubt the man­ual op­tion is the one I’d pick. Here, be­ing able to work through a won­der­fully pre­cise (old-school) man­ual gear­box, com­plete with rally hero-like rev-match­ing down­shifts in sport mode, all while ne­go­ti­at­ing a se­ries of sweeps and bends, adds to the al­ready vis­ceral ex­pe­ri­ence of­fered by this top­down sportscar.

In these con­di­tions, there’s enough per­for­mance and pre­ci­sion for the Boxster GTS to keep pace with per­for­mance cars boast­ing vastly big­ger price tags. And, even if these cars even­tu­ally pull away, the su­perb lev­els of com­mu­ni­ca­tion of­fered via the 718’s steer­ing wheel and the base of the bucket seat mean you’re still likely hav­ing more fun … at a frac­tion of the cost. While the three-stage sta­bil­ity-con­trol sys­tem al­lows you as much slip in­ter­ven­tion as your driv­ing part­ner con­dones, there’s enough in­trin­sic bal­ance and poise to let you feel like a mas­ter driver each time the rear tyres grace­fully lose grip un­der harder-than-usual ac­cel- er­a­tion out of slow cor­ners.

While driv­ing the Audi TT RS and both this Boxster and a Cay­man GTS PDK within days of each other has left me con­flicted about where I’d spend my money in the VW Group if I wanted a fast two-seater, there’s lit­tle doubt a 718 Boxster GTS with a man­ual trans­mis­sion is (still) the best open-top sportscar money can buy.

clock­wise from right Beau­ti­fully crafted sports seats are stan­dard fit­ment; as is a Sport Chrono pack­age; and 20-inch Carrera S wheels; sig­na­ture 718-gen­er­a­tion air in­take; GTS mod­els gain a be­spoke front split­ter. op­po­site Boxster’s roof can be stowed at speeds of up to 50 km/h.

clock­wise from top GTS rides 10 mm lower than S de­riv­a­tives; tinted head­lamps dis­tin­guish all Porsche GTS mod­els; neat de­tail­ing abounds, such as this third brake­lamp that’s set in a scal­loped section in the rear deck.

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