CAN a thoroughbred sports car, one honed to delight and satisfy its driver (and priced in six figures) really carry the halo it once had when powered by just four pots and a puffer?
We’re talking about the loss of an entire pair of cylinders and all the goodness that made the Porsche flat-six such an icon.
There’s an initial sense that it’s not just cubes and pots that have been swallowed by the emissionscompliance monster, but also a core part of the Boxster’s identity.
The car’s character has changed, markedly.
At lower revs there’s a slight throbbiness that does recall – it needs to be said – a WRX STi.
There’s a small amount of hollow induction growl to make you cast your mind back to the atmo flatsix, but it’s quickly snuffed out by the slightly tuneless blare that follows as the revs quickly pile on.
You can rev it to 7500rpm, but the FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE power curve tapers off after the 6500rpm peak.
The base 718 cops an extra 100Nm and now feels properly punchy pretty much everywhere, with the grunt to really engage the rear end out of tight corners.
And the S is now a seriously swift car. We revelled in the oily shift action of its manual ’box, but were just a little nostalgic for the yowly top end of the 981. Sport mode attempts compensation with what sounds like a round of small-arms fire when you back out of a flattened throttle.
The new chassis set-up works brilliantly on our roads. Virtually every element underneath the car has come in for attention, and the result is almost supernatural levels of suspension compliance, body control and stiffness. The confidence levels it imparts move from high to extreme. Bumps that feel wilfully out to bounce you into the scenery are blotted up.
Duality of character is what you need in a premium sports car, and it still lives here. Smooth, fast roads? Use Sport Plus and firm dampers and go on max attack.
Hit B-road bumps and switch to Comfort dampers, use the Sport setting to bring back the sound of an Uzi spray from the exhaust on over-run, and revel in how swiftly you can seamlessly thread together a section.
Change is often hard. Embracing a new order requires a focused mindset. “We needed to get the base car down to 7.8L/100km; simple as that,” said one Porsche insider. So Boxster’s character has changed, but it’s faster and even more dynamically gifted.
I could get misty-eyed about losing the flat-six yowl, and I miss the old hydraulic steering rack, but that’s now history. The 718 carries a different torch; time to be thankful it still burns as a clean flame, if not quite the same crackling bonfire.
The raucous exhaust popping on over-run in Sport mode is brought on by some exhaustcam timing overlap trickery that allows a little unburnt fuel to exit the combustion chambers. It’s not the most efficient way to turn hydrocarbons into kilowatts, though, which is why you won’t experience it when the dial is set to the no-nonsense Sport Plus mode.
Sometimes sounds like a Subaru; no more top-end flat-six yowl An appreciably better sports car; much more than just a new engine