SIX OF THE BEST – JEREMY LAIRD ONWHY THE 718 FAILS
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.