Porsche 718

Debut: 2016
Maker: Porsche
Predecessor: Boxster (981) / Cayman (981)

 Published on 29 May 2016
All rights reserved. 
718 Boxster

Porsche finally corrects its wrongs with the new 718, but by doing so it introduces another wrong...

Time flies. The original Boxster was born exactly 20 years ago. People said it saved Porsche from bankruptcy and laid the foundation for the company’s rebound. It was also the first Porsche to break the tradition of triple-digit model numbers. Since then, you get Cayenne, Cayman, Panamera and Macan. To me, these names sound silly rather than romantic. I would rather have the good old numeric codenames, because they are not only more relevant to tradition but also give you a sense of progress, such as from 924 to 944 to 968. If you talk about “Boxster”, pardon, which one? In the end, you still need the internal codenames 986, 987 and 981 to distinguish different iterations. Only non-enthusiasts would prefer the marketing names.

Another confusing thing about the old car was its relationship with Cayman. You know, both cars were practically the same except the roof, but Porsche marketed them as separate models and, even more confusingly, positioned the hardtop coupe higher on the price list than the soft top, which is the contrary to common sense – see what if Volkswagen priced the Golf hatchback higher than Golf Cabriolet. To justify the higher prices, it had to claim slightly more power for all Cayman models, even though we know their engines were practically the same as Boxster’s.

So we are glad to see Porsche finally corrects its wrongs with the new 718 Boxster and Cayman. Now the 718 name sits rationally below 911 (although its internal codename is actually 982), while the Boxster and Cayman labels are relegated to represent the different roofs. Everything else between Boxster and Cayman is exactly the same, no matter power, performance figures or even kerb weight (see spec. table below). And the roadster finally charges more than the coupe, although the gap is small.

Wendelin Wiedeking decided to equip the original Boxster with flat-six just because he had a tight budget...

This is actually the second 718 created by Porsche. The first was a flyweight race car built between 1957 and 1962 as the successor of 550 Spyder. It was good-looking. It had racing glories – 3 Targa Florio laurels and a Sebring 12 hours trophy. But most important to Porsche, it shared a common feature with the new 718 Boxster and Cayman: a four-cylinder boxer engine. And that is also what separates it from the flat-six-powered 981 / 987 / 986. The relegation from 6 to 4-cylinder might raise some eyebrows, but to me it seems to be a rational movement to add further breathing space to the 911. In fact, traditionally the smaller Porsches (924, 944 and 968, also the majority of 914) were powered by 4-cylinder engines to keep cost down. Wendelin Wiedeking decided to equip the original Boxster with flat-six just because he had a tight budget to develop both the Boxster and 996. From this perspective, the reversion to 4-cylinder engine is also a correction.

It goes without saying the downsized engine is supplemented with turbocharging, so it actually gets more power (and even more torque), higher performance yet drinks less fuel, just as you would expect for a “modern” engine. Unsurprisingly, this flat-4 shares many basic design features with the 3.0-liter turbocharged flat-six of new 911 Carrera and Carrera S so that about 40 percent parts are shared. Like the latter, it has a 118 mm bore center. The version employed by the base Boxster and Cayman displaces 1988 c.c., employs the same 91 mm bore and 76.4 mm stroke so that you might see it as the cut-down version of the 911 engine (no, it is not, as you will see the differences later). The more powerful Boxster S and Cayman S engine has its bore enlarged to 102 mm while keeping the short stroke unchanged, so the combustion chambers are very oversquared. Its capacity is increased to 2497 c.c. Sounds like a 944 Turbo engine. The big flat-four needs no balance shafts, of course.

The flat-4 shares many basic design features with flat-six of 911 so that 40 percent parts are shared.

If it was not a horizontally-opposed engine, you might think the base 2.0-liter turbo comes from Volkswagen Golf R (after all, Macan employs mostly Volkswagen and Audi engines), since it offers identical power and torque: 300 horsepower and 280 pound-foot. Yes, the Porsche flat-four is no superior to VW’s inline-four! Nor its delivery more flexible. Its maximum torque is delivered from 1950 to 4500 rpm, completely overshadowed by the Volkswagen’s 1800-5500 rpm. The only thing to applause is its 7500 rpm redline, which is quite high for a turbocharged motor, but then you are unlikely to visit it often, since peak power arrives at 6500 rpm.

The same can be said to the 2.5-liter version. It produces 350 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 310 pound-foot from 1900 to 4500 rpm. Its specific power is actually lower than the 2.0-liter unit because it employs lower turbo boost pressure, i.e. 1.1 bar instead of the smaller engine’s 1.4 bar. For sure it leaves enough space for the future GTS or GT4 derivatives. Both new motors enjoy a 35 horsepower boost from the old car’s 2.7- and 3.4-liter flat-six, while their torque deliveries are massively stronger, especially at lower revs. Meanwhile, their EU fuel consumption is reduced by 13 and 11 percent respectively, now averaging 40.9 mpg and 38.6 mpg.

Thanks to the new engines, the base 718 duo tops 171 mph, an increase of 7 mph. Moreover, with PDK gearbox and sports chrono pack (launch control) selected, 0-60 mph acceleration is slashed from the old car's 5.2 seconds to 4.5 seconds, i.e. a night and day difference! Meanwhile, 718 S can sprint from rest to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds, down six-tenths, and flat out at 177 mph. In Nurburgring Nordschleife, the 718 Boxster S managed a best lap time of 7 min 42 sec, 16 seconds faster than the old car and only 2 seconds behind the outgoing Cayman GT4, although the new turbocharged 911 Carrera S is still comfortably ahead at 7 min 30 sec.

The Porsche flat-four is no superior to VW’s inline-four!

From engineering point of view, the flat-four turbo is not as perfect as the 911’s flat-six turbo. While the 911 engine employs a pair of small turbos, one for each bank in a straightforward layout, the flat-four employs a single turbocharger located at the front of the engine, practically taking the space left by the deleted cylinders. Why not twin-turbo? Because the firing order of flat-four is 1-3-2-4, which means the 2 cylinders in each bank fire in succession, then rest for some time and fire in succession again. If they were connected to the same turbo, the uneven exhaust pulse train would seriously reduce the efficiency of turbo. The only solution is to connect all 4 cylinders to a single turbo, then it will get evenly spaced exhaust pulses, one every 180 degrees of crank revolution. Alternatively, you can connect cylinder 1-2 to a turbo and 3-4 to another turbo, but that would require cumbersome piping, which is a nightmare to packaging as well as cooling. Moreover, whether the 2 or 2.5-liter displacement can feed 2 turbos with enough gas is questionable. Therefore, Porsche opted for the single-turbo solution.

However, collecting all exhaust gas from both banks of cylinder to a single turbo requires long exhaust manifolds running under the engine sump (the exhaust ports located at the underside). This also needs extra care to shield the heat from the lubrication system. More worrying, the longer exhaust manifolds result in more turbo lag. Moreover, the fresh air pumped out from the single turbo also needs longer pipes to reach the cylinders, which causes further turbo lag and delay of throttle response. Therefore, the flat-four turbo is not going to be as responsive as the 911’s flat-six twin-turbo. Neither can it match the straight-4 turbo engines commonly found on the market, unfortunately. This explains the aformentioned comparison with Golf R engine. In fact, the only other engine with a similar layout, Subaru's flat-4 turbo, is also notorious for turbo lag.

So why does Porsche opt for flat-4 instead of inline-4? Flat-4 enables the 718 to have lower center of gravity as well as an inherently smoother operation hence the higher (7500 rpm) redline. But for the most part, I would say because of tradition and image reasons. Just like a 911 will always keep its engine at the wrong side.

More worrying, the longer exhaust manifolds result in more turbo lag...

Naturally, the 2.5-liter engine needs a larger turbo, which would have worsened turbo lag further. Fortunately, it employs VTG (variable turbine geometry) technology as seen on the 911 Turbo. Its vanes can be adjusted according to rev to optimize turbine response and output. It’s quite costly, so the base 2.0 engine uses a regular turbocharger. To lessen the turbo lag shortcoming, both engines employ “dynamic boost” function. When the driver lifts off throttle briefly, it halts ignition and fuel injection but keeps the throttle butterfly open for up to 2 seconds so to keep the turbine spinning. Once the driver reapplies throttle, boost can be built up quickly.

The engine shares most reciprocating parts with 911 (though the 2.5 employs larger pistons and valves) as well as direct injection and iron-plasma-sprayed cylinder coating, though its compression ratio is half a point lower at 9.5:1. VarioCam Plus serves both intake and exhaust valves, which means the exhaust side gets variable valve lift for the first time. Porsche did not explain why, but it is believed it uses the low-lift setting at low rpm to reduce the effect of exhaust gas drawing back to adjacent cylinder during intake stroke, again due to the successive firing order of flat-4 layout. The flat-6 of 911 has no such problems, so it doesn’t need VVL at exhaust side.

As seen in the picture above, the intercooler system mounted atop the engine is quite cumbersome. While the 911 engine has 2 air-to-air intercoolers mounted either sides of the engine and are cooled directly by the side intakes, the single intercooler of 718 is a 2-stage air-to-water system. The water circuit is cooled by the 2 side-mounted radiators, then it cools the air circuit through a heat exchanger. It has to be packaged tightly beside the intake manifolds.

Engine aside, it is still very much the same car as 981.

As seen, the new boxer-4 turbo has to overcome a lot of technical difficulties not found on a flat-6 or inline-4. This inevitably added some weight and costs. Is it worthwhile?

On the Road

Observing from outside, the 718 is not a big departure from 981. In fact, engine aside it is still very much the same car as 981. The styling is naturally evolved as in every iteration of Porsche. Is it better looking? The answer is negative. A squarer nose and flatter body panels around the tail means it loses a little bit aesthetic of the old car. The Porsche name is now relocated to the black stripe under the fixed rear spoiler. Unfortunately, this pushes up the rear deck thus diminishes the sense of sleekness. Inside, the cabin is the same as before except the semi-circular air vents, updated infotainment system and a new driving mode switch on the steering wheel. In other words, the driving position and visibility remain excellent, while build quality has nothing to complain about. The power hood of Boxster continues to offer good sealing and quick operation.

Press the start button, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer fires up with a subdued noise. It is rougher, bassier and much less dramatic than the spine-tingling bark of the last naturally aspirated flat-six. Yes, it sounds more Subaru Impreza than a Porsche. The disappointment grows further once you engage 1st and ask the engine to deliver. Our technical analysis is unfortunately correct. Below 2000 rpm, the engine shows considerable turbo lag – not to the extent of 944 Turbo, of course, but noticeably more than most modern turbocharged engines we saw in the last couple of years. Give it 3000 rpm, however, the turbine is fully spooled up and the throttle response is crisped. Yet the sound quality doesn’t improve. As rev rises, the Subaru off-beat burbles morph into a smooth drone, which is hardly engaging. Comparatively, Jaguar F-Type V6 does a far better job in sound tuning.

The rougher, bassier exhaust note sounds more Subaru than Porsche...

In the mid-range, the turbo four feels a lot stronger than the old flat-six. Undoubtedly, its real-world performance is elevated to a higher league. However, as I always think, modern sports cars become too powerful to be enjoyable on normal roads. The case of 718 is especially obvious when you compare the driving experience with what we remembered for its predecessor. Because the engine delivers its best in the mid-range, you are not encouraged to rev it beyond 6500 rpm, even though it is free to spin to 7500 rpm. Neither does the droney exhaust note encourage you to do so. In the old car, you always wanted to engage a lower gear, stretching the engine all the way to 7800 rpm to get maximum power and aural rewards, or prod the throttle just to enjoy its sharp response, wondering how fast its rev rises and falls. On the new car, you spend half the effort yet returns faster acceleration. Any more commitment would just overwhelm the road conditions and risk your license. Losing a large part of the old car's emotion and character, it is a more effective tool but not a better companion.

The base 2.0-liter engine has a smoother power delivery while its exhaust is less gruff, but it is similarly characterless. That said, it is now effectively faster than the old Boxster S, so with prices taken into account (£42,000 vs £51,000) it is actually a better option than the 2.5-liter.

As before, the car has 6-speed manual fitted as standard while 7-speed PDK is optional. A taller final-drive ratio takes advantage of the increased torque to allow fewer gearchanges in real-world usage. The clutch and gearchange of the manual are just as light and accurate as before, which is a pity as you are not going to engage them as often.

Unfortunately, a great deal of emotion and sense of engagement is lost in the new turbocharged flat-four...

The chassis is largely carried over from the last generation, but it gets a 10 percent faster steering rack and stronger brakes from the company’s vast parts pool. Springs, dampers and roll bars get slightly stiffer together with a reinforced rear subframe. A sportier version of PASM adaptive damping is available, which lowers ride height by 20 mm. The rear suspension gets components from the Cayman GT4 to increase lateral stability.

With these enhancements, the 718 feels more agile than ever. Its balance is spot on, more incisive than 911 and matches the very best Lotus Exige. Body control is remarkably tight. The Pirelli P-Zero tires offer bags of grip and dependable traction. Its brakes are more than a match for its performance. The electrical power steering is not as tactile as the early Boxsters with hydraulic assistance, but it is highly accurate, quick and well weighted. Other controls are just as well tuned to give you a great sense of connection to the car. Push it really hard and lift off mid-corner, the tail kicks out, but it is progressive and easy to catch. This chassis forms a solid foundation for the next Cayman GT4.

Most important, this car remains an everyday sports car, unlike Lotus Exige or Alfa 4C. In all but the stiffest PASM modes, the suspension leaves enough compliance for country roads. The body structure feels rigid despite the open roof. The cabin sacrifices no creature comfort for performance. It is one of the few sports cars that is truly usable on daily basis yet being fast, fun to drive and reasonably affordable. In fact, that is always the case of Boxster. Unfortunately, while the 718 is certainly faster, a great deal of emotion and sense of engagement has been lost in the new turbocharged flat-four. Had we been born in the new turbocharged era, we might be easier to appreciate it. Once you have tasted the immense thrill of the old motor, there is no way not to be disappointed with the new one, especially when it is not quite as accomplished as its 911 brother. Let’s hope the next Spyder and GT4 to keep the atmospheric flat-6.
 Published on 14 Jul 2016
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718 Cayman

Cayman is made cheaper than the equivalent Boxster for the first time.

As mentioned before, the new Cayman is now officially the hardtop version of Boxster and both are sold under the 718 moniker. It is also made cheaper than the equivalent Boxster for the first time, although the gap is less than 5 percent. With the exception of roof, both cars are virtually identical, including engine, steering and suspension tuning, so their difference is smaller than ever. Porsche even quotes identical kerb weight and performance figures for them.

In order not to disgrace the Boxster, Porsche does not reveal how much torsional rigidity the Cayman gains this time around. However, you might remember that Weissach said the last generation 981 Cayman was nearly twice as rigid as 981 Boxster. Since the 718 keeps the chassis largely unchanged, we assume the same can be said to the new car. That said, on the road the Cayman shows little advantage to Boxster, because the aluminum and high-strength-steel structure of Boxster is already very stiff, without any creaks and scuttle shakes to speak of. Both cars steer, ride and handle exceptionally good. You need a Lotus Exige Sport 350 to beat them.

It shares the same disappointment with its soft-top sibling: the uninspiring engine.

Predictably, the 718 Cayman shares the same disappointment with its soft-top sibling: the uninspiring engine. Losing 2 cylinders and gaining a single turbocharger result in an uninspiring exhaust note and a lazier tachometer needle. The turbine-smooth manner and razor-sharp throttle response of the old naturally aspirated motor are gone. Turbo lag is noticeable below 2800 rpm. Its 7500 rpm redline is high for a turbocharged four-cylinder, but you are no longer encouraged to access the very top end of the power band, blame to the thick mid-range torque as well as the droney exhaust. The car is a lot faster than before without question, but driving thrill actually takes a dip. With a hard top, you hear less of the boring exhaust note, which is no regret. But then again, having no regret to hear less the engine sound is exactly what makes the new car so regrettable!

That’s why the 718 Cayman loses the top rating like its Boxster sibling. If you are not after open-air motoring, it should be a better option than the Boxster, thanks to its slightly keener prices and better looks – I always think a true Porsche should have a swoopy fastback. It is still the most sensible sports cars in its price range, but some of the magic of the old car has been lost.
 Published on 1 Dec 2017
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718 GTS

If you are deaf, 718 GTS is still the perfect sports car...

I will try to write this review as short as possible, because the GTS doesn’t deserve a lot of words. Basically, it is the 718 S fitted with all the performance options, i.e. PASM dampers (which also lowers ride height by 10mm), 20-inch wheels, mechanical LSD, Sport Chrono pack with launch control (in case of PDK car) and sport exhaust. Then, tune its engine to produce slightly more punch, and add 15 percent to the price tag. It doesn’t even look prettier than the lesser cars. Its front bumper remains too square, while the revised intakes look a bit aftermarket.

Porsche revised the intake duct and the VTG turbo on the 2.5-liter boxer, lifting its boost pressure from 1.1 to 1.3 bar. Even so, its output merely inches up by 15 ponies and 7 pound-foot – and that’s only for the PDK car. With manual, peak torque is unchanged from the 718 S, because the gearbox refuses to take more. As a result, the GTS is barely quicker in PDK form. 0-60 and 0-100 mph are only one and two-tenths quicker, respectively.

Can you feel that difference? Of course not! What you do feel is the coarse, bassy exhaust drone gets even more annoying through the sport exhaust. Every prod of throttle reminds you how disastrous Porsche has turned the car from six to four cylinders. If you can live without cupholders and bullet-proof reliability, buy Lotus Exige.

However, if you are deaf, 718 GTS is still the perfect sports car, because its performance and chassis are both outstanding, not to mention its everyday practicality. It is not necessarily better than a 718 S fitted with performance options, but it costs almost the same, while the GTS badge makes you prouder.


Length / width / height
Valve gears
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque

Suspension layout
Suspension features

Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)

0-100 mph (sec)

718 Boxster (Cayman)
Mid-engined, RWD
Steel+aluminum monocoque
4379 / 1801 / 1281 (1295) mm
2475 mm
1988 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT, VVL
300 hp / 6500 rpm
280 lbft / 1950-4500 rpm

6-spd manual or 7-spd twin-clutch
All struts
Adaptive damping
F: 235/45ZR18
R: 265/45ZR18
6M: 1335 kg; PDK: 1365 kg
171 mph (c)
6M: 4.9 (c) 4.4* / (4.3*)
PDK: 4.5 (c) / 4.0* (3.9*)
6M: 11.3 (c) 10.6* / (10.5*)
PDK: 10.8 (c) / 9.9* (9.6*)
718 Boxster (Cayman) S
Mid-engined, RWD
Steel+aluminum monocoque
4379 / 1801 / 1281 (1295) mm
2475 mm
2497 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT, VVL
VTG turbo
350 hp / 6500 rpm
310 lbft / 1900-4500 rpm

6-spd manual or 7-spd twin-clutch
All struts
Adaptive damping
F: 235/40ZR19
R: 265/40ZR19
6M: 1355 kg; PDK: 1385 kg
177 mph (c)
6M: 4.4 (c) / 4.3* (4.1*)
PDK: 4.0 (c) / 3.5* / 3.7** (3.6*)
6M: 9.7 (c) / 9.8* (9.3*)
PDK: 9.2 (c) / 8.5* / 9.3** (8.7*)
718 Boxster (Cayman) GTS
Mid-engined, RWD
Steel+aluminum monocoque
4379 (4393) / 1801 / 1272 (1286) mm
2475 mm
2497 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT, VVL
VTG turbo
365 hp / 6500 rpm
6M: 310 lbft / 1900-5500 rpm
PDK: 317 lbft / 1900-5000 rpm
6-spd manual or 7-spd twin-clutch
All struts
Adaptive damping
F: 235/35ZR20
R: 265/35ZR20
6M: 1375 kg; PDK: 1405 kg
180 mph (c)
6M: 4.4 (c)
PDK: 3.9 (c)
6M: 9.6 (c)
PDK: 9.0 (c)

Performance tested by: *C&D, **MT

AutoZine Rating


718 S / GTS

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