Riding in the 2016 Porsche Boxster: How does the four-cylinder drive? How does it sound?
The new Porsche 718 Boxster will arrive in Spring. Its sibling, the 718 Cayman, which shares much of the same technology will follow in June. We took a ride in the new four-cylinder turbo Porsche Boxster, in the last of the winter test runs.
Sales of the Boxster began back in 1996. 20 years later, this facelift brings the engine that was suggested back in the 1993 design study: a four-cylinder boxer. The Boxster concept paid tribute to the 550 Spyder both in appearance and its mid-engined concept. In April 2016, the Boxster will lose two cylinders when compared with its direct predecessor, but receive a turbocharger, as well as a comprehensive facelift. It will assume the production identification number 718, following on from the 550 Spyder. The car is almost ready; the last winter testing runs were taking place in December. ams-mag was on the scene.
The thermometer in front of the Hotel Explorer in the far North of Canada reads minus eleven. Porsche’s Chief of Sports Car Testing Alex Ernst gives a few final instructions: “after the cold start, drive off immediately. Don’t allow the car to warm up whilst standing still. We want to make sure that the engine won’t make any odd noises or get damaged if the client does this in the future."
Porsche 718 Boxster uses 1 litre less
By “the engine”, he means the new turbocharged four-cylinder which will take pride of place in Porsche’s mid-engined offering. The closely related Cayman will also carry the identifier “718”. The two-litre version of the turbo-boxer churns out approximately 300 BHP. The 2.5 litre version offers around 350 BHP. That’s around 30 - 40 more horses than the predecessor. Fuel consumption drops simultaneously by around one litre per 100 km (in the standard cycle, of course).
In teams of two, we stream out into the cold with a hoard of Japanese and Chinese tourists, who are here for the Northern Lights. It is Asian belief, that children conceived under the Northern Lights will be healthy and masculine. Well then! The Boxster should have a similar fate, when it arrives on the world’s forecourts. To ensure this, the test convoy will battle through the cold for over 3,000 km in the coming days. In the first session, I assist Matthias Hofstetter, project leader for sports car motorisation, and the father of the new four-cylinder, with which Porsche breaks its six-cylinder tradition. “There was initial uproar in the team. But we can’t ignore the necessity to reduce our portfolio’s CO2 emissions.” Hofstetter explains. “But I think we’ve achieved something fantastic."
Finally, Hofstetter turns the key, and the four-cylinder turbo roars into life. We’re driving the 2.5 litre today. As instructed, we shut up and drive off. After just a few kilometres, Hofstetter nods approvingly. “It sounds as it should. No problems with the cold.” So how does this “mundane” four-cylinder sound in comparison to the old six-cylinder? Naturally, the sound isn’t as full bodied. But it has a character of its own - a husky, throaty one. Somewhat similar to the old 356 Carrera. Acceptable.
Porsche 718 Boxster with overboost hits 100 km/h in under 5 seconds
Leisurely at first, we roll through the town traffic, before we can turn things up a notch. The engine gives off such a good impression, that fans of the old six-cylinder won’t be mourning for long. Even from the passenger seat, you can feel that this beast has a lot more torque than before. At the top end, the four-cylinder boxer will reach 7,500 rpm. The two-litre version (0 - 100 km/h in under 5.5 seconds) has a maximum torque of over 350 Nm. The 2.5 litre version (0 - 100 km/h in under five seconds) has over 400.
This extra performance required some modifications to the brakes. Thanks to a ten percent more direct steering ratio, the Boxster will get round corners much snappier – on ice and snow, we sadly have no opportunity to verify this claim.
Meanwhile, we’ve left the town behind us, and are now testing the various driving modes on the highway. The adaptive chassis – available as an extra – allows a bigger spread between comfort and sport. In normal mode, the Boxster deals with the countless potholes in the frozen road remarkably gently for a sports car. In Sport and Sport+, the suspension characteristics change, as one expects. New to the Boxster is the overboost button that we’ve seen on the 911 recently. This makes the power development especially sporty for a 20 second burst. This allows you to perform a speedy overtaking manoeuvre without having to laboriously change driving mode. Fun, and practical.
Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman – more than a facelift
So what’s new on the Boxster? The Boxster and the Cayman (coming in June 2016) should only have received a facelift, but due to the new turbocharged engined, the entire rear of the car had to be redesigned. In order to create room for the elaborate turbocharger with its variable turbine geometry, the developers changed from a three- to a four-point mounting system. There was also no room for a direct charge air cooler. It is instead cooled by a water system. “You wouldn’t be able to fit an orange in the engine compartment any more!” summarises Jan Roth, model line manager for the 718.
The exterior sees its fair share of changes too – more than you’d expect from a facelift. The front, rear and side panels of the Boxster are new, and identical on the Cayman too. The weight stays at the level of its predecessor, weighing in at between 1,315 and 1,400 kg.
Date17 January 2016