2020 Porsche 718 Boxster T review: Back-to-basics brilliance
Theit’s the best kind of approach to going back to basics. It’s a high-performance car that doesn’t focus on power or speed, but instead displays the inherent brilliance of the Porsche 718’s chassis.
- Excellent chassis tuning
- Perfect steering
- Strong turbo power
I do not like
- The engine sound is not that sweet
- Outdated infotainment technology does not support Android Auto
At that point, the Boxster T uses the 718’s base engine: a flat 2.0-liter turbo 4 with 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. If you stick to the standard six-speed manual transmission, the T adds a short-stroke gearbox, but Porsche’s PDK dual-clutch gearbox is available as a $ 3,730 option. The advantage of switching to PDK is faster acceleration; Hitting 60 mph takes 4.5 seconds with the dual-clutch automatic versus 4.9 with the 6MT. But as great as the super smooth and super fast PDK box is, I can’t help but want the manual in this machine. Remember, absolute speed isn’t the goal here, and the Boxster’s flat-four is best mixed with a stick.
Plus, the T is all about driver involvement. It comes standard with Porsche sports suspension trim – something not otherwise available on the 718 base – as well as a limited slip differential, sports exhaust, 20-inch wheels and the Sport Chrono Package. This last bit adds the awesome and useful push-to-pass Sport Response button on the drive mode selector, although you only get it with the dual-clutch transmission, so I guess that’s another thing that works in PDK’s favor .
All in all, the Boxster T is a peach on the road. The perfect mid-engine balance and relatively light curb weight of 3,120 pounds make this car a fiery beaver when it comes time to dive into a corner or quickly run through a series of switchbacks. There are no braking dips, no roll in corners. The limited-slip differential mixes the power between the rear wheels while Pirelli P-Zero summer tires cling to the floor. Add some of the best steering available in any sports car at any price and the end result is a charming little roadster that never, ever gets boring. As good as theit could be, you don’t need great power when everything else is so good.
Probably the only sour note in the entire Boxster T experience is sound. The sports exhaust is great, but the 2.0-liter flat-4 is … not great. This auditory experience is subjective, I know, and I admit that I don’t hate the sound of the 2.0-liter as much as some Porsche purists do. But man, give this thing the loud whine of a real six bedroom apartment and it would be a winning chicken dinner.
Inside, the Boxster T has neat nylon door handles you’ll remember from the 718 Spyder e. Oddly, though, if you want them in any color other than black, you have to select the $ 2,770 718 T interior package, which adds some liveliness to the door handles, contrast stitching, and fabric seat inserts (Guards Red, in the case of my test machine). I like the Sport-Tex fabric on the seats – it’s as good as it looks. You can also add heated seats for $ 530, which is a relatively inexpensive upgrade, even for all Porsche a la carte standards.
The 718’s interior isn’t as modern or luxurious as Porsche’s newer cars, so you won’t find things like large digital gauge clusters or a widescreen infotainment system. This is not to say that the latest generation Porsche Communication Management technology is bad, necessarily: it responds quickly and the menu structure is simple. It’s not as feature-rich or beautiful as the latest PCM software, and the 7-inch touchscreen is a bit small for an infotainment display in 2020. Fortunately, the standardit’s a pretty easy override, though continues to be a ban on Porsche training. If you want driver assistance technology, lane change assistance costs $ 700 and adaptive cruise control is another $ 1,670, although ACC can only be obtained with the PDK transmission.
At $ 69,850 to start (including $ 1,350 for the destination), the Boxster T is one of the least expensive ways to enter the Porsche 718 range. Ideally, I’d spend on the $ 2,580 Miami Blue or Python Green exterior colors and go easy on the other options. The $ 3,600 Premium package will add things I want like a heated steering wheel, Bose sound system, LED headlights, and a few other bells and whistles. That brings me $ 78,530 out the door, which isn’t bad for a perfectly specified 718 Boxster. For reference, the most powerfulcosts $ 10,000 more.
As an everyday sports car, the 718 is a great choice. Its suspension is compliant enough to handle city commuting, has two trunks, and isn’t even a gas pump glutton, returning a semi-respectable 24 miles per gallon combined. You can definitely argue that the more powerful Boxster S and the sweetest 4.0-liter GTS and Spyder variants are the true kings of performance. But if all you want is a simple and rewarding sports car that prioritizes happiness behind the wheel above all else, the new Boxster T lets that basic goodness shine.