It has been 25 years since Porsche first launched the Boxster as a cheaper alternative to the 911 Carrera. To celebrate, Porsche has released a now sold out limited edition 25ns anniversary template. But the Boxster is a car worth celebrating, and for more than just the fact that it’s cheaper than a 911.
The new sports car emerges in the heat of chaos
When the Boxster concept first appeared at the Detroit Auto Show in 1993, the company that produced it was in disarray. The 944 was out of production and the long-toothed 928 was nearing the end of its life.
The company’s mainstay, the 911 Carrera, was losing popularity as a slump in the US market halved sales from their bubbly volume in the late 1980s. This was a one-note company whose allure was quickly fading. The losses were piling up and would have amounted to $ 300 million by 1994.
In fact, Toyota offered to buy the company from the Porsche family for $ 2.1 billion, an offer that was – of course – rejected. Instead, the company went through a heartbreaking change, the head of production, Wendelin Wiedeking, was promoted to CEO in 1993. In turn, Wiedeking reorganized the company, bringing in Japanese consultants to improve production methods.
That’s what made the mid-engined two-seater roadster a welcome breath of fresh air. The work of American designer Grant Larson under the watchful eye of Porsche design chief Harm Lagaay, the styling of the Boxster recalled classic Porsche racing cars such as the 550 Spyder and 718 RSK without imitating them.
Playing the heritage card, Porsche was using its most powerful weapon, its mythological status, reinforced by the unexpected death of actor James Dean in a 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder. The Boxster had the promise of something new at a time in which the Porsche product was anything but new.
Three years later, the Boxster went on sale in Europe, followed by the United States in 1997. The new car, dubbed the 986, would share much of its DNA with the future 911 known as the “996”. Also shared: a new liquid-cooled flat-6 engine; the air-cooled engines were dead at Porsche.
Despite some protests from air-cooled worshipers, the response has been enthusiastic – to say the least. The 911 had an MSRP starting at $ 71,515, while the Boxster’s $ 40,745 starting price was 43% lower. Today, the 2022 Boxster starts at $ 63,950, which is less than the price of the first Boxster when adjusted for inflation. For the record, that would be $ 69,334.75.
Over the past 25 years, it has become known as the car that saved Porsche, the one that paved the way for Porsche SUVs, sedans, electric vehicles and sports cars.
The new Boxster
The 2022 Boxster, sold as 718 Boxster, is the fourth generation of a lineage that started with the aforementioned 986, followed by the Type 987 in 2005, the Type 981 in 2012 and the 982 in 2017.
And while it’s clearly descended from its ancestors, its retro-inspired look has given way to its unique identity, just as the current 911 is clearly descendant for the 1963 model, but it’s noticeably different. Porsche recently brought in reporters. in Malibu, California to celebrate the model’s silver anniversary, along with a handful of 718 Boxsters that are ideal for ripping up the twisties.
For 2022, the Boxster continues to share its mechanical parts with the Porsche Cayman Coupé. Base models get a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4 that generates 300 horsepower and 280 foot-pounds of torque, but by opting for the sportier S you get a larger 2.5-liter mill that produces 350 horsepower.
But things get really interesting with the ferocious GTS 4.0 and its 394hp 4.0-liter flat 6, and the incredible Spyder, blessed with 414 horsepower. That said, the latter two models come close to six figures. The engines can be equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission or an optional 7-speed Porsche Doppelkupplung (PDK) dual clutch transmission.
Behind the wheel
Sampling the 718 Boxster T means experimenting with a more basic approach to a Porsche, as the “entry-level” model forgoes fantasies such as electric seats.
But it has a sports suspension that’s optional on the 718 S and GTS models, but standard on the 718 T. It includes shorter springs, retuned adaptive dampers, a 0.78-inch lower ride height, a mechanical limited-slip differential, and the torque vectoring.
Reaching 60 mph takes 4.5 seconds if you opt for the PDK and its standard launch control. The base four exhibits a short turbo lag out of line, but proves powerful enough to make work on your favorite route quick. It is easy to twist the tail of the 718 Boxster. Keep the engine revved up and you will find it extremely responsive, and although there are more expensive Boxsters, as well as more powerful ones. But the T turns out to be a real mess.
Then again, who can resist the siren’s call of enormous power? If you can rock it, the 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 and its divine 6-cylinder engine provide an unholy but controllable amount of acceleration. Rated at 394hp and 309Nm of torque, it reaches 69mph in 4.3 seconds and has a top speed of 182mph Its smooth power delivery makes it feel much faster than its numbers suggest, and it sure feels livelier than the turbo quattro, but not significantly faster.
While all 718 Boxsters feel like they’re plugged into your central nervous system, the GTS 4.0 proves particularly adept and makes the dance partner more accommodating. Sure, it’s like dating a super model – you pay for the privilege. There’s a plethora of standard performance gear for the extra dough, however, including Sport Seats Plus, the Sport Chrono Package, a sports exhaust, sports suspension, a mechanical limited slip differential with torque vectoring, and satin black wheels. 20-inch.
Then there is the motorsport-focused Spyder.
Yes, he grunted more; 414 hp and 309 Nm of torque. Yes, it is 30 mm (1.18 in) shorter than a standard 718 Boxster. Yes, you can manually adjust the camber, toe, ride height and anti-roll bar settings.
And Porsche has stolen its parts bin by fitting it to the front axle of the 2018 911 GT3. The brakes also come from the 911 GT3 and it features a unique rear axle design. Ceramic composite brakes are optional, but a mechanical limited slip differential with torque vectoring is standard.
All of this is good for a 0-60 mph time of 4.2 seconds.
The Spyder is finished with a unique manually operated lightweight fabric roof, an automatically extending rear spoiler and a driver-focused interior.
Behind the wheel, you’ll find all the Boxsters they wield with authority. The steering is lightning-fast and precise and the lean of the body is non-existent. A knob on the steering wheel adjusts the vehicle’s driving mode from mild to wild. But what makes the 718 GTS so compelling is not just its communication skills with the driver, but the ability to make you a better driver not just through its many electronic systems.
And the 718 Boxster have more standard features than before. For 2021, the T, S and GTS 4.0 models got standard dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, auto dimming mirrors with rain sensor, Apple CarPlay and bi-xenon headlights with Porsche Dynamic Lighting System.
It’s an intoxicating drink, reserved with the appreciation – and the bank balance – to understand why driving a pure sports car is a pleasure no other car, truck or SUV can offer. It’s a message delivered by the first Boxster, and it’s something you still hear, but even more so in the 2022 718 Boxster.