- Accurate steering, confident handling
- Attractive, modern styling
- Brisk acceleration
- How can you not have a crush on this car?
- Wind and engine noise at high speeds
- Adding options brings the bottom line into 911 territory
- Switchgear a little fussy
The 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman remains some of our favorite performance cars; they're thrilling to drive, and in base form they're exceptional sports car value, too.
The Porsche Boxster and Cayman are no more—sort of. For 2017, the duo picks up a new first name along with a new turbo-4 powerplant.
The new 2017 Porsche 718 still come in convertible Boxster and coupe Cayman form, but the 718 tag signifies the change in cylinders, while it also references the open-cockpit, mid-engine 718 of 1957 to 1962.
True to form, there's a base 718 Boxster and Cayman, and the larger-displacement 718 Boxster S and Cayman S. In most other ways—key dimensions, packaging, etc—the 718 cars carry over the basics of the Boxster and Cayman, unchanged.
The substantial changes don't materially change the way these cars perform, or our opinion of them. They're intuitive, well-balanced, and incredibly fun to drive. We think they're even better, more focused sports cars than even Porsche's 911.
The Porsche 718 earns an 8.2 on our scale of 10, even before safety data is available. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Porsche 718 styling and performance
The 718 carries on a beautiful tradition of timeless sports-car styling. The flowing, smooth curves are still intact, as is the low nose, the muscular haunches, and the simple, tidy tail.
The light updates applied in the transition to 718 badges amount to bigger air intakes, redesigned lighting (with available LED headlights), and bigger side air inlets. 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.
The important stuff comes next. Even after the turbo-4 implant, the 718 Boxster and Cayman have thrilling acceleration and handling; they remain the king of our sports-car hill.
Base cars come with a new 300-hp, 2.0-liter turbo-4 derived from the 911's turbo flat-6. It's good for 0-60 mph times of 4.5 seconds and a 170-mph top speed. S models have a bored-out 2.5-liter with 350 hp, good for 4 seconds to 60 mph and a 177-mph top end. Acceleration is quicker in base models than in the old S models, but it is accompanied by a more guttural, louder flat-4 rasp amplified by an optional active exhaust.
A 6-speed manual is standard, and a delight. The dual-clutch picks up a 7th speed; it creates virtual intermediate gears by engaging a pair of ratios and slipping clutches, all in the name of fuel economy. Gas mileage isn't a reason to turn down the Porsche 718's lurid come-ons. Fuel economy sits in the 24-mpg range on the EPA combined cycle.
New engines aren't the only changes. Porsche has also tuned the suspension, improved the brakes, and made the electric power steering 10 percent more direct. The Sport Chrono Package carries over Normal, Sport, and Sport Plus modes, but now adds an Individual mode that lets drivers adjust the various vehicle systems to taste. A new Sport Response button for models with the dual-clutch sharpens the responsiveness of the engine and transmission.
We don’t think the updates change the inherent goodness of these two cars at all. The powertrain may sound quite different, and power delivery is less linear than before. They're still incredibly fun to drive, incredibly focused as street cars capable of hitting the track—where a new PSM Sport mode lets experienced drivers play with substantially higher yaw limits than before.
Porsche 718 comfort, safety, and features
The 718 has a snug and supportive cabin, and exquisite fit and finish for two, and not much else. Seats are supportive, and the cabin is well-insulated; the Boxster's power top can be operated at speeds under 31 mph. Cargo space is slight, and the two trunks, front and back, can only hold a few soft-sided bags.
There's no crash-test data for the Porsche 718, and it's pretty likely there never will be. All versions get a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors, and can be fitted with adaptive cruise control.
Standard equipment includes power features, partial-leather seats, a CD player and satellite radio, and Bluetooth with audio streaming. Options are the 718's forte: you can paint, stitch, or cover just about every interior trim piece, boosting the price into the stratosphere with each mouse click on the configuration screen. Some of the best ways to spend more on a 718 are adaptive sport seats with available heating and ventilation; a leather interior package; navigation; and a Burmester audio system with 821 watts and 12 speakers. Don't forget the Sport Chrono package, either.
Prices start in the mid-$50,000 range; it's relatively easy to spec out a 718 Boxster or Cayman above $125,000.
2017 Porsche 718
The 718 carries on a beautiful tradition of timeless sports-car styling.
The Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman are near-perfect expressions of sports-car style. How could we rate them anything but a perfect 10? (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The entry-level Porsche sports car hasn't changed much over its nearly 20 years. The shape has grown more distinctive in this generation: some of the flowing lines have been replaced with a more muscular, angular look. Though updated, the 718 Boxster and Cayman keep the smooth flowing curves that sweep up from the low nose over the fenders and into the teardrop roof profile. Muscular haunches rise at the rear, wrapping around the simple, tidy tail.
Every body part of the 718 Boxster’s body, except for the front and rear luggage compartment lids, the windshield, and the convertible top, has been massaged for the 2017 model. The front end has larger air intakes and redesigned bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights and available LED headlights. Along the sides, the air inlets are larger. The 718 Boxster S gets new 19-inch wheels, and 20-inch wheels will be 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.
We've found materials and layout inside the Boxster cabin to be excellent, with a straightforward layout, leather-wrapped surfaces, and quality buttons and switches. Once you figure out what all of the buttons do—and there will be some points of ambiguity here, for those jumping from other makes—it all makes sense.
2017 Porsche 718
The 718 Boxster and Cayman have thrilling acceleration and handling; they remain the king of our sports-car hill.
We give the 718 Boxster and Cayman a perfect score of 10 for performance. Even the new turbo-4 engines score for output and power delivery (more on that below), while the car's exceptional ride and handling are undiluted, despite some serious suspension changes. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The headline for 2017 is the transplant of a new family of turbocharged flat-4 engines into the Boxster and Cayman. The new design pares down the 911 Carrera's turbo flat-6 by a pair of cylinders.
The engine comes in two displacements. Standard Boxster and Cayman models get a 2.0-liter unit that pumps out 300 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. Boxster S and Cayman S cars get a bored-out version of the same engine displacing 2.5 liters and putting out 350 hp and 309 lb-ft of torque.
Both engines have 35 hp more than the outgoing sixes; the 2.0 has 74 lb-ft of torque more, while the 2.5 churns out an extra 43 lb-ft of torque. Beyond that, the two make peak torque at 1,900 and 1,950 rpm, but 2.5-liter engines have a variable-geometry turbocharger that helps them make more torque as they approach that peak, and dry-sump oil delivery so they won't starve after repeated laps on a track.
Though it's faster than the old Boxster S and Cayman S cars with the naturally aspirated flat-6, the new 2.0-liter Boxster and Cayman have a touch of turbo lag, which the 2.5-liter evaporates with its variable turbo vanes. Redline for both is 7,500 rpm. Both cars use airflow techniques that Porsche employs on the 911 Carrera turbo to keep the turbos on boil: the wastegate is opened and closed to maintain airflow in on-off acceleration, so it takes less effort to spool the turbo when it's called to generate boost.
There's also torque-vectoring. In this instance, the 718 clamps on an opposite rear brake to tighten a cornering line.
Neither's a slouch: in a car weighing just 3,000 pounds, the 718 shreds 0-60 mph times even more successfully than it did under its maiden name. Base cars hit 60 in 4.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 170 mph; S cars take only 4 seconds, and hit 177 mph.
Those numbers are for the optional dual-clutch transmission; a 6-speed manual is the standard gearbox, and it's the positive, clean-shifting, feel-good manual it's always been. The new 7-speed paddle-shifted dual-clutch is the best of its kind; it creates virtual intermediate gears by engaging both its gearboxes and slipping both its clutches, in the name of better fuel economy.
The Sport Chrono Package carries over Normal, Sport, and Sport Plus modes, but now adds an Individual mode that lets drivers adjust the various vehicle systems to taste. A new Sport Response button for models with the dual-clutch sharpens the responsiveness of the engine and transmission. When equipped with the Sport Chrono Package, the PSM features a new Sport Mode with a higher threshold of intervention to suit performance-oriented drivers on enclosed tracks.
Porsche 718 ride and handling
New engines aren't the only changes. Porsche has also tuned the suspension, improved the brakes, and made the electric power steering 10 percent more direct. It's more free to let its tires break loose, but it's no less thrilling to drive. It's one of the best-balanced sports cars we've driven: This balance comes from the well-tuned chassis, mid-engine layout, and Porsche's unique brand of engineering and style.
The MacPherson strut suspension front and rear is unchanged, but on some cars, an adaptive suspension creates a pretty wide gulf between normal, Sport and Sport+ modes. The base version has a 10-millimeter lower ride height and the PASM Sport Suspension for the S model has a 20-millimeter lower ride height. No matter which mode, the 718 is amazingly compliant for a car with such massive levels of grip.
The 718's steering is electric, with 10 percent more effort required at 90 degrees of lock. Electric power steering is often maligned for lack of feel and artificial feedback, but you'll find few such complaints here. It's light, but nicely weighted and accurate, and complements the superb dynamic poise of this car.
Half-inch wider 18-inch wheels are shod with 235/35-ZR Pirelli P Zero tires up front and 265/45-ZR on back, on base cars. The 718 Boxster S and Cayman S get 235/40-ZR19s and 265/40-ZR19 Pirelli P Zeros, front and back. Brakes are slightly bigger and thicker than before, but braking performance was never a complaint with the Boxster or Cayman: the pedal feel is superb, the responses immediate.
We don’t think the updates change the inherent goodness of these two cars at all. The powertrain may sound quite different, and power delivery is less linear than before. They're still incredibly fun to drive, more focused sports cars than even the 911.
2017 Porsche 718
Comfort & Quality
The 718 has a snug and supportive cabin, and exquisite fit and finish--for two, and not much else.
The 2016 Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman are thrilling cars and impressive performers. They're also surprisingly competent daily drivers and long-distance touring cars: they have comfortable cabins, great seats, and fit and finish that rises from great to stellar, depending on how much you spend on materials.
We give it a 7 for comfort and quality, deducting points for its slim storage, but awarding points for its excellent seats and fit and finish. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
By the numbers the 718 Boxster and Cayman measure in at 172.9 inches long, with a 97.4-inch wheelbase. It's a two-seater, for sure, but one with generous interior room.
The 718's seats are very supportive, even in base form, and there's enough adjustability to suit the vast majority of body types and heights with the base seats, while optional versions carry power adjustment of lumbar, thigh bolsters, and side bolsters. There are four available seat styles in all; in any of them, the adjustable steering wheel finds a great driving position, and there's ample leg room, head room, and shoulder room for just about anyone.
However, the 718 is lean on storage, particularly in Boxster form. Both have slim door pockets and a compact center-console bin; in the Cayman, at least, there's some area under the rear hatch that gives it a bit more storage than the Boxster trunk. Both have storage in the nose as well. In either form, the 718 is best suited for weekend trips, with smaller soft-sided luggage.
The Boxster's soft top is light, and it doesn't take up much storage space. It can also be raised or lowered as long as the car is traveling below 31 mph. The top is electrically operated, with no manual latches do worry about.
The 718 has a new, deeply resonant sound that fills the cabin, but wind noise and road noise are kept fairly low. In the Cayman, sounds like gear whine are amplified a bit more. It's the normal effect of hatchbacks, but worth considering if cross-shopping the two.
2017 Porsche 718
There's no crash-test data for the Porsche 718, and it's pretty likely there never will be.
We don't give the Porsche 718 a safety score. We'd like to, but neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has crash-tested one. Because it's such a specialty car, it's not likely that one will be tested anytime soon.
We'll update this page and rating if that changes. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Nonetheless, Porsche has engineered a great deal of safety into the 718, starting with dual front, side, curtain, and thorax airbags; anti-lock brakes; and very capable stability and traction control. This year, Porsche's reprogrammed the stability system so that drivers can let the tail loose a bit more before the electronics rein it all in.
With either 718, outward vision is good—obviously, better in the top-down 718 Boxster, but even the over-the-shoulder view in the 718 Cayman is pretty clear.
There's a standard rearview camera on the 718, and it comes with front and rear parking sensors. On the options list are adaptive cruise control that lets the car coast when it's following another vehicle, and blind-spot monitors.
There's one other safety asset in the 718 that you might not have even thought of: Its excellent handling and strong brakes are together an accident-avoidance boon.
2017 Porsche 718
One cruise through the Porsche 718 configurator, and you'll know why it's easy to run up a $100,000 tab.
The Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman are on sale now. Base Caymans are priced from $54,940, and Boxsters start at $57,050. The 718 Cayman S is priced from $67,350, while the Boxster S starts from $69,450.
In any form, the 718 is no bare-bones sports car. No model lacks in features; they're equipped and optioned much like mid-range luxury sedans, which is why we give the duo an 8 for features—for its long options list, its infotainment system, and its custom trim sets. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The standard-feature list on the 718 includes power windows, locks and mirrors; partial leather seats with power seat backrests; Bluetooth audio; USB and iPod input; satellite and HD radio; cruise control; ambient lighting; heated exterior mirrors; and a power-operated soft top on the Boxster.
The 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system is paired with a six-speaker, 110-watt audio system. A navigation module can be added to the system, and it offers voice control; a Connect Plus module adds real-time traffic, Apple CarPlay, and can add Google Street View maps and wi-fi connectivity.
Buying a Porsche—or just configuring one—can be a joyous and tedious experience, all at the same time. There are countless optional extras, and ways to drive the cost up—or as dealerships would probably see it, ways to "individualize" the car. Highlights include a leather upgrade package, two different kinds of sport seats with heat and ventilation, a Burmester high-power audio system, big 20-inch wheels, and a host of wood, leather, carbon-fiber, and Alcantara interior trim choices. There's also a fire extinguisher.
If it's real performance upgrades you want, Porsche offers an adjustable suspension and a torque-vectoring rear end--but no all-wheel drive like the big-brother 911 offers. Carbon-ceramic brakes? Yep, for $7,400.
Serious enthusiasts will almost certainly want to add the Sport Chrono package, which includes a dash-mounted stopwatch that allows the car to store and report lap times and other performance metrics for later analysis. The package also includes upgrades for other systems, depending which are installed. In addition to the standard Normal and Sport chassis settings, Sport Chrono adds Sport Plus; this and the other buttons control things such as throttle sensitivity, suspension tuning, and transmission behavior on PDK models.
If that wasn't enough of an argument for getting the Sport Chrono package, PDK cars with it also get a launch control feature, which uses the transmission and a host of sensors to get optimal acceleration on a standing start—while allowing just the right amount of tire spin.
Before you know it, you'll have priced a 718 in the $130,000 range without really trying. We've been there. We feel your pain.
2017 Porsche 718
Gas mileage isn't a reason to turn down the Porsche 718's lurid come-ons.
Porsche's 718 fares well in EPA testing, with good fuel economy figures from its new flat-4 turbocharged engines.
We give it a gas mileage rating of 6 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The EPA rates the base 718 Boxster and Cayman at 21 mpg city, 28 highway, 24 combined, when they're fitted with the manual transmission. With the dual-clutch gearbox, the numbers rise to 22/29/25 mpg.
On the 718 Boxster S and Cayman S, manuals score 20/26/22 mpg, dual-clutches 21/28/24 mpg.
One reason this year's numbers are better than last year's flat-6 cars is the optional 7-speed, dual-clutch transmission. It has what Porsche calls “virtual” gears: the transmission engages two gears at once and slips the clutch for each to create new ratios between gears.
Sure, a 911 will beat some 718s on the highway cycle, but other than that, we're hard-pressed to think of a single model that offers the level of driving thrills and fuel efficiency as this mid-engine roadster.