SIX OF THE BEST – JEREMY LAIRD ONWHY THE 718 FAILS

911 Porsche World - - Boxster Gts Twin Test -

Porsche has bro­ken the Boxster. What was one of the most mu­si­cal and en­gag­ing en­gines at vir­tu­ally any price point has been re­placed with a bari­tone bag of nails. That’s the flat-six afi­cionado’s first im­pres­sion of a 718 sit­ting sta­tion­ary with the en­gine idling. And it’s tragic.

Of course, there’s much more to the tran­si­tion from 981 GTS to 718 GTS than just the sound­track. It’s other as­pects of the new pow­er­train that I’m ac­tu­ally most con­cerned about com­ing in. The noise is a given, a Rums­fel­dian known known if you will. But what about the re­sponse, the pre­ci­sion, the power de­liv­ery? These are the crit­i­cal known un­knowns.

The short an­swer is that Porsche has done a re­mark­able job with the four-pot GTS. It ex­ceeded my ex­pec­ta­tions in im­me­di­acy of re­sponse, revabil­ity, the works. But only if you add the pro­viso, ‘for a turbo en­gine’. If this was a nat­u­rally as­pi­rated lump, you’d as­sume some­thing had gone wrong. It nei­ther spins with the sparkle of the glo­ri­ous old flat six in the 981 nor metes out per­for­mance with the same pre­ci­sion.

Like a lot of mod­ern turbo en­gines, it’s not the im­me­di­ate re­sponse that’s the prob­lem. It’s the way the torque swells shortly there­after. The re­sult is a pow­er­train with a slightly clumsy, dis­con­nected, ill-cal­i­brated char­ac­ter. If a sense of trans­par­ent con­nec­tion is crit­i­cal for you, the 981’s en­gine is 100Mb fi­bre op­tic to the 718’s 56k dial-up.

The irony is that in many other re­gards, the 718 brings the rest of the ma­chine tan­gi­bly closer. The chas­sis and steer­ing are sharper, more pre­cise and more re­spon­sive. The 981 GTS feels a lit­tle soft and dis­tant by com­par­i­son. The 718 is also sig­nif­i­cantly more play­ful thanks to that easy-ac­cess turbo torque. But then you could solve that prob­lem on the 981 with smaller tyres. More ac­cess to slip is in­deed a no­ble pur­suit. The 718’s so­lu­tion comes at far too great a price.

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