If you believe that driving is a chore, you?re driving the wrong vehicle. In a car as spirited as the 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster S, driving chores involve ironing out properly wrinkled roads with its well-starched chassis, sweeping through highway on-ramps, and dusting traffic off the line. That?s why we?re looking forward to 40,000 miles with Porsche?s mid-engine, droptop sweetheart, because it makes mundane commutes and weekend errands worth anticipating. Riding in on a 10Best Cars win and following our long-term test of a 2014 Cayman S, the 982 generation brings big changes to Porsche?s entry-level sports cars, chiefly turbocharged four-cylinder engines that replace free-breathing sixes, a new 718 moniker, and a lineup shuffle that properly prices the convertible above the Cayman coupe.
The Boxster configurator is a tapas menu for four-wheeled indulgence. It?s tempting to just order one of everything, but then you?re facing a bill north of $110,000?and that?s before you consider adding special paint or any of the many special Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur touches. Accordingly, we consider our $81,630 car an example of uncharacteristic self-restraint.
Naturally, we started our build with the $69,450 Boxster S for its additional half-liter of displacement, variable-geometry turbocharger, and 50 horsepower over the $12,400-cheaper base 718 convertible. From there, we tacked on the sport exhaust ($2540), PASM adaptive suspension ($1790), navigation ($1730), sport seats with additional bolstering ($800), dual-zone automatic climate control ($760), ventilated ($730) and heated ($530) seats, Sapphire Blue paint ($640), Guards Red seatbelts ($350), a GT sport steering wheel ($320), plus two no-cost options: the smoker?s package (it adds a useful 12-volt outlet in the center console) and a cargo net in the passenger footwell. Does it go without saying that our car carries the standard row-your-own, six-speed transmission?
After a 2000-mile break-in, our 3090-pound Boxster S ran the zero-to-60-mph sprint in 4.3 seconds and slipped through the quarter-mile in 12.6 seconds. It looped the skidpad with 1.03 g?s of cornering grip, stopped from 70 mph in 142 feet, and registered a peak 90-decibel blat with the accelerator pinned to the floor. Our staff remains split on whether the new flat-four sounds more like a Subaru or an air-cooled Volkswagen Beetle, but we?re all in agreement that we dearly miss the yowl of the old flat-six. Turbocharging does have its benefits, though. The Boxster?s performance numbers look very similar to a base 911?s.
Of course, the appeal of Porsche sports cars has always extended beyond the numbers, and this 718 is no exception. Early comments celebrate the precision of the controls, the fluidity of the chassis, and the firm hug of the simple sport seats. This low-slung two-door is also surprisingly practical. With both a front trunk and a rear trunk, the Boxster easily manages the chore of a (modest) Costco run.
There are the usual gripes about price. And there is the usual hedging of any and all complaints with an equivalent serving of praise. A typical comment reads: ?Only Porsche can get away with charging $80K-plus for manual seats, no leather dash or door inserts, no passive entry, and no steering-wheel audio controls. And yet, I want what the Boxster has and don?t care about what?s missing.? Neither is our Boxster immune to the usual strained relationship between spring roads and sports-car tires. At 2343 miles, one of our drivers managed to tear the sidewall of the right-front Pirelli P Zero, flattening it. We used the onboard inflation kit to breathe just enough life into the tire to limp it back to the office, where we replaced the 235/40ZR-19 tire at a cost of $331.
But the only real downer so far is that every mile driven is one mile closer to ending our long-term test. The very first comment in the logbook, written by deputy editor Daniel Pund, already lamented the Boxster?s inevitable departure: ?Damn, only 38,905 miles left with this car.?
Months in Fleet: 2 months Current Mileage: 5297 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 22 mpg Fuel Tank Size: 16.9 gal Fuel Range: 370 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $331
VEHICLE TYPE: mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door convertible
PRICE AS TESTED: $81,630 (base price: $69,450)
ENGINE TYPE: turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve flat-4, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 152 cu in, 2497 cc
Power: 350 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 309 lb-ft @ 1900 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 97.4 in
Length: 172.4 in
Width: 70.9 in Height: 50.4 in
Passenger volume: 49 cu ft
Cargo volume: 5/4 cu ft
Curb weight: 3090 lb
Zero to 60 mph: 4.3 secZero to 100 mph: 9.6 secZero to 130 mph: 16.4 secZero to 150 mph: 23.1 secRolling start, 5?60 mph: 5.2 secTop gear, 30?50 mph: 8.3 secTop gear, 50?70 mph: 5.6 secStanding ?-mile: 12.6 sec @ 115 mphTop speed (drag limited, mfr's claim): 177 mphBraking, 70?0 mph: 142 ftRoadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 1.03 g
EPA combined/city/highway: 22/20/26 mpgC/D observed: 22 mpg
Unscheduled oil additions: 0 qt
4 years/50,000 miles bumper to bumper;4 years/50,000 miles powertrain;12 years/unlimited miles corrosion protection;4 years/50,000 miles roadside assistance
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