2018 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS First Drive

2018 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS First Drive

It's unlikely that the 2018 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS will be a future marquee attraction in the Porsche Museum or receive top billing in an Edmunds "Top 10 Greatest Porsches of All Time" listicle. When you consider that Porsche has been building sports cars for 70 years, and you've got the likes of the 356, the 959 and the 918 as contenders, how could it? But measured solely on its merit as an everyday sports car, one that you have a potentially realistic chance of owning and enjoying to the fullest, the 718 Boxster's fortunes rise considerably.

Porsche introduced its latest 718 Boxster (and 718 Cayman) generation for the 2017 model year, and the new GTS trim level is a late-year addition for 2018. As with other GTS versions of Porsche's current cars (or even the last-generation Boxster GTS from 2016), the 718 Boxster GTS represents a turn-key way to get a nicely equipped Boxster. The appeal is that you could show up at a Porsche dealer and know that, by picking a GTS, you're getting almost all of the good stuff. Porsche also likes to point out that ordering a GTS saves you about 10 percent compared to buying a regular Boxster S fitted with the same features.

The GTS Treatment
Springboarding off the 718 Boxster S, the $82,950 (including destination) GTS gains black-painted 20-inch 911 Carrera S wheels, black-tinted headlight and taillight units, and subtly restyled front and rear facias specific to the GTS. Mechanical add-ons include the Porsche Active Suspension Management option (adaptive and adjustable suspension dampers with a 10-mm lower ride height), a sport exhaust with dark-painted exhaust tips, a torque-vectoring rear differential (which improves traction and cornering agility), and the Sports Chrono package (active engine mounts, adjustable drive modes, launch control for the PDK dual-clutch transmission or downshift rev-matching for the manual, and a dash-mounted clock).

Thanks to a revised intake manifold and a turbocharger with a larger-diameter compressor wheel and a higher maximum boost pressure (18.1 psi versus 16.7 psi in the S), the GTS' turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-four engine produces 365 hp. That's 15 hp more than the S. Inside the cockpit are sport seats, contrast-color seat stitching and seat belts, carbon-fiber trim, a contrast-color tachometer face, and Alcantara microsuede upholstery on the seats, center console, armrests and steering wheel.

Of course, you can always custom-order a Boxster GTS, which gives you the option to further personalize it through Porsche's extensive options catalog. You want a Bordeaux red leather interior, 18-way seats, carbon-ceramic brakes, a Burmester surround-sound audio system and exterior paint matched to the hue of Dodge's Plum Crazy purple? No problem. Just write a bigger check.

Four Is Less Than Six
One thing you cannot order on a 718 Boxster, though, is a six-cylinder engine. The switch to the turbocharged four-cylinder engine for the 718 generation is certainly the most divisive aspect of the car. While YouTube comments are never going to be a good source of polite, considered discourse, the ones on our recent acceleration test of a base 718 Cayman are still illuminating. "Sounds awful." "Good but just doesn't have that flat-six sound." "It's waaaay faster [than] my Boxster with a flat 6 engine. But I will never trade it for the flat 4 cylinder turbo. I'm in love with the scream of a flat 6 engine!!?"

Indeed, our acceleration runs with that 300-hp Cayman produced an impressively quick 0-60 mph time of 4.3 seconds and a quarter-mile pass of 12.6 seconds. With another 65 hp to work with and more torque (317 pound-feet with the PDK transmission versus 280 lb-ft for the base Boxster and Cayman), the GTS is even quicker. Porsche claims 3.9 seconds for 0-60 mph with the PDK transmission and a quarter-mile time of 12.3 seconds. The company also says it can post a 7:40-minute lap time on the Nürburgring, which is considerably quicker than the previous six-cylinder GTS and even 1 second quicker than the old 997-generation Porsche 911 Turbo with the PDK. This is a wickedly quick little sports car, one that proves Porsche has taken that long-standing "it needs more power!" complaint about prior generations of the Boxster (and Cayman), thrown it in a burlap bag, beaten it repeatedly with a crowbar and put it 6 feet under.

The Big Picture
But was it worth the loss in aural satisfaction? Like most things of a subjective nature, it's hard to pass judgment other than on individual basis. The GTS version does sound better than what you'll hear in that Cayman video. This warbly, gritty mechanical soundtrack, topped off by the subtle whooshes and hisses of the GTS-specific turbocharger and intake, and the pops and crackles of the sport exhaust, might have its own distinctive appeal. We suspect if you took this engine and somehow swapped it into a Subaru WRX STI, Subaru enthusiasts would be throwing parties and enshrining it in their own hall of fame. It's all about expectations.

Plus, it's important to remember that the rest of the Boxster's attributes are still here. Driven with enthusiasm along a curvy road, the mid-engine, 3,032-pound Boxster GTS responds to your inputs like few other cars. It's balanced, grippy, obedient and faithful. It's a sweet-handling car, one that builds up your confidence. A relatively comfortable ride quality, a high-quality cabin with room for tall adults, a driving position that feels as natural as wearing your favorite pair of jeans, and a decent amount of cargo space are other benefits. Put the top down, and you've got the quintessential wind-in-your-hair roadster experience. It might not equal driving a 918 Spyder along the Nürburgring, but as everyday experiences in sub-$100,000 sports cars go, it's one of the best.


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