The Porsche Boxster has had a tough time growing up. No matter how good the car was, it struggled to shake comparisons to its big brother, the 911. Most of these comparisons were ill founded, however, as the Boxster always had a different personality for a different type of driver. Since the debut of the 986 in 1996, we witnessed a decade of Boxsters, all with the ethos of a fun, performance-focused roadster. But it wasn’t until the release of the 718 in 2016, when you felt a genuine change in the air. Caymans started flocking to track days… Car journalists were giggling in GT4’s… little brother finally had the spotlight and no one was going to take it away from him. Not content with resting on its laurels, Porsche thought it might be a good idea to leave the roadster with some special engineers. They tweaked, they tuned, it re-emerged… The Porsche Boxster 718 GTS.
At first walk-around, you’ll observe the muscular transformation. Larger air intakes… sculpted spoilers… even sitting still, you feel that this Boxster will require more oxygen than before. Its sprinters stance is willing and able thanks to a 10mm lower ride height and 20 inch, 10 spoke Carrera S wheels. Accents are chiselled and purposeful whilst being aesthetically understated. Model logos, rear apron and tailpipes have all been blacked out. Even the LED taillights have been tinted. The Boxster GTS manages to strike a visual balance rarely achieved in modern cars. It’s handsome while being tough, athletic but understated. Overall, I think it’s the best-looking Boxster we’ve seen.
But the Boxster isn’t a fitness model, there’s a purpose to that body and that purpose is performance. Behind your seat lies Porsche’s 2.5 litre flat 4 producing 269kW. With a sports chrono package and a PDK gearbox, that equals a 0 – 100 time of 4.1 seconds… not bad for a little brother. If given the chance to stretch his legs, he’ll sprint all the way to 290km/h. It doesn’t matter how you spin it, these are big numbers for a daily driven roadster. The standard sports exhaust can go from civil to psycho at the touch of a button and although I miss the screams of the old 6 cylinder, you grow to love the deeper grumbles. Last but not least in little brother’s kit bag are his brakes. 4 piston Monobloc callipers squeeze tightly on some cross-drilled and internally ventilated rotors, which, given the power figures, are necessary reins on this stallion.
Driving the GTS is perfectly playful. The 718 chassis is one of the best in the world, and with those extra ponies to play with, you really get to showcase the brilliance. Turn in is precise and linear with enough feel to instil confidence in a few ‘forced oversteer ‘situations. Just like big brother, the Torque vectoring is sublime at transferring the load where it’s needed, making sure the GTS remains stable outside the stables. Although I’m amongst a small group trying to lead a manual gearbox renaissance, there is no denying the effectiveness of Porsche’s PDK transmission. In automatic, it’s polite, smooth and seamless, making city driving a breeze. If you’re keen for a paddle however, you can’t argue with the shift speed and road focus that the PDK offers.
One of the common trends with performance-focused interiors, is the temptation to try a little too hard with graphics, colours and textiles. Thankfully, Porsche have never fallen in to this trap. Alcantara and leather scatter the cabin purposefully and tastefully. Seats are supportive and beautifully sculpted with enough comfort for the inevitable road trips. But if you plan on spending more of your spare time at the track, the optional GTS interior package offers some carbon goodies and inherent weight savings. When it comes time to put the top and down and turn up the sound, Porsches 110 watt, 6 speaker ensemble delivers enough ambiance to even keep the birds happy.
The Porsche Boxster 718 GTS is car to be enjoyed and appreciated. Its chassis is spirted and mischievous, it’s performance is colossal and unassuming, it’s body is handsome and athletic and yet it somehow remains humble and approachable. It looks like little brother has grown up substantially. He shares characteristics with his older sibling, but remains a rascal at heart. He goes about things with a wry smile, having a laugh while deflating some egos. So, put aside your assumptions and give little brother a chance… He might just beat you home.