The Car Connection Porsche 718 Overview
The Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman are the brand's most affordable sports cars, and they feature a mid-engine design as opposed to the rear-engine 911.
The duo adds 718 to the name for the 2017 model year, paying homage to the open-cockpit, mid-engine 718 of 1957 to 1962. The re-naming isn't the biggest change, though: the 718 marks the switch to a new generation of turbocharged flat-4 engines, derived from the 911's flat-6. For 2018, the 718 added GTS variants for Boxster and Cayman models.
Ranging in price from about $55,000 to more than $80,000 for a loaded model, the Porsche 718 sits at the upper end of its price category.
Rivals for the 718 Boxster and Cayman include the Alfa Romeo 4C, BMW Z4, Chevrolet Corvette, Jaguar F-Type, Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class, and Nissan 370Z.
MORE: Read our 2018 Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman review
The Boxster has been offered since the 1997 model year and the Cayman arrived for 2006. The Boxster was redesigned for the 2013 model year. The new Cayman arrived a year later, and it was named Motor Authority's Best Car To Buy 2014.
The 2017 models are updated versions of those cars. The main change for 2017 is the duo of new engines, though the model lineup is also simplified to base and S models. The GTS, GT4 (Cayman), and Spyder (Boxster) models won't return.
The new base engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter flat-4 that makes 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Porsche 718 S models get a 2.5-liter flat-4 with a turbocharger that uses variable turbine geometry to help put out 350 hp and 309 lb-ft of torque. Both engines have 35 more hp than the outgoing 6-cylinder engines, and the 2.0-liter has 74 more lb-ft of torque while the 2.5-liter churns out an extra 43 lb-ft of torque.
Porsche says the new engines improve performance. With the optional 7-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission (the other transmission choice is a 6-speed manual) and Sport Chrono Package, Porsche says the 718 Boxster accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, 0.7 seconds faster than the outgoing model. With these same features, the 718 Boxster S hits 60 in 4.0 seconds, which is a half-second quicker than the model it replaces. Top speeds are 170 and 177 mph, respectively.
Porsche has also tuned the suspension, improved the brakes, and made the electric power steering 10 percent more direct. The Sport Chrono Package adds an Individual mode that lets drivers adjust the various vehicle systems to taste. A new Sport Response button for models with the PDK sharpens the responsiveness of the engine and transmission.
Two versions of the Porsche's suspension management system are offered. The base version has a 10-millimeter lower ride height and the Porsche Active Suspension Management Sport Suspension for the S model has a 20-millimeter lower ride height.
Every body part of the 718 Boxster’s body, except for the front and rear luggage compartment lids, the windshield, and the convertible top, is massaged for the 2017 model. The front end has larger air intakes and redesigned bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights. LED headlights are available. Along the sides, the air inlets are larger. The 718 Boxster S gets new 19-inch wheels, and 20-inch wheels are optional. At the back, the taillights have LEDs as well.
Inside, the dash has a new design, with clean lines and smooth surfaces broken up only by the center stack and its button-filled controls. Porsche's infotainment interface has been updated. When ordered with the navigation system, it features an array of online services.
In most other ways—key dimensions, packaging, etc.—the 718 cars carry over the basics of the Boxster and Cayman, unchanged.
Despite the changes, we expect the 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman to deliver the fun balanced handling that has been the hallmark of these cars. We've found that both cars excel at tackling curves, but they are also quiet and comfortable when the pace is less frenetic. The well-appointed interiors, comfortable seats, and the Boxster's convenient power soft-top combine to create a pleasant driving experience that should only be enhanced by more power in the new models.