Porsche 718 Boxster

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Cheaper – and better – than the S version we tested last month

History has an often strange way of distorting the truth. If you leaf through old magazines and read verdicts on cars long out of production, you will often find them at significant variance to how those cars are perceived today. One handily relevant example is the first water-cooled 911, whose 20th anniversary is now not so far away. History has it that the so-called 996 is the weak link in the 911 chain. This is reflected in the market, which prices equivalent versions of its air-cooled 993 predecessor at double the value of the later car. But that’s not how most of us judged it at the time.

And I fear that history is going to be equally unfairly unkind to the current generation of Boxster in general, and this entry-level model in particular. Not only has it been made to suffer the indignity of its classic flat-six engine being replaced by a four, but in this car it displaces a mere two litres. The last time Porsche sold a car with so small an engine, it was 40 years ago and had 924 badges on the back. Worse, at least for this car’s likely future reputation, is the undoubted fact that Porsche will work night and day to rectify its sole serious fault: its rather dull noise.

But we don’t yet have that perspective and my job is to judge it here and now on its merits as presented. The more important comparison to my way of thinking is how it stacks up against the Boxster S with its 2.5-litre engine. This stock Boxster has 50 fewer horsepower than the S, smaller diameter wheels (by one inch), thinner front brakes and a single rear tail pipe (unless you choose a sports exhaust). But it’s still got almost 300bhp, is still at least as fast as the last Boxster S and still has a chassis so sublime nothing else in the class can begin to compete for pure driving pleasure. And it costs almost £9000
less than the new S.

Most importantly, it also has the better engine. It might not have quite the same kick, but the smaller motor is both smoother in the mid-range and sweeter at the top end than its big-bore sister. No, it doesn’t come close to replacing the unique, sharp sound of the six and that’s still a serious problem, but its more pleasant nature and lower price tag make it a far more acceptable kind of powerplant for this kind of car.

So I’ll wrap with a request to anyone reading this in 2036 or similar. Presuming there are still cars to drive and verdicts to be read, get in touch by whatever social media is called 20 years from now and remind me I wrote this. I’d like to see if my prediction turned out correctly and bend my arthritic fingers to the keyboard once more to set the record straight.

Factfile

Price – £41,793

Engine – 2.0 litres, 4 cylinders, twin-turbocharged

Power – [email protected]

Torque – 280lb [email protected]

Transmission – six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive

Weight – 1460kg  

Power to Weight – 236bhp per tonne

0-62mph – 5.1sec

Top speed – 171mph  

Economy – 40.9mpg

CO2 – 158g/km