Porsche – 718, the good the bad and the brilliant

When Porsche first announced the new 718, the new flat-four turbocharged engine stole all of the headlines. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a new 718 S and 718, in Boxster format, for a few days to see what this new motor is all about.

So let’s start off with the new performance stats for the 718, because they certainly are impressive. So the new standard 718 Boxster now boasts a mightily impressive 296bhp and 380 Nm torque from the new flat 4 2.0 turbocharged unit. I think the most noticeable difference is that the torque is available no matter where you are in the rev range, as it now kicks in as low as 1950rpm. Peak power is now reached at 6500rpm, but don’t be fooled thinking this means you can’t hold on to each gear and take them to the redline at 7400rpm, this new car is happy to rev all the way and does so quite freely.

The new S variant features a 2.5 flat 4 turbocharged boxer engine, which boasts figures that make the standard 718 seem a slouch (which it’s certainly not!). The new 718 S has 345bhp at 6500rpm and 420 Nm available at just 1900rpm. Meaning this cars is ballistically quick. There is however a touch of ‘lag’ below 2000rpm, however the PDK automatic box helps remove a lot of this. Again as on the standard 718 the S is happy to rev quite freely all the way to the 7400rpm redline.

Now we are talking performance and the new engine, let’s discuss the noise. No this engine does not sing like its previous flat 6 brothers, but what it does do is offer blistering pace on the road, whilst improving economy and performance. So that’s my head talking now if I think back to how I felt when sat behind the wheel of the 718 S, I can tell you now, it is lacking an emotional connection. The way the previous flat 6 howl and sing on full chat, this new engine sadly doesn’t. On the move it sadly resembles a Subaru 2.0T more than anything else.

Don’t get me wrong you can still have a lot of fun, but in order to really feel something for the new 718 it requires you to really be pushing the car, to feel the sense of speed…which on UK roads is not advised.

The chassis and suspension setup I found to work very well, the car is still excellently balanced meaning you can pick the point where you want the car to go, turn in, hit the apex and get back on the accelerator with no issues. I believe Porsche’s main intention with the suspension tweaks it has made to the 718 was to add precision to the handling without sacrificing anything on ride comfort. Stiffer coil springs and thicker anti-roll bars feature on the all-corner MacPherson strut set-up but, more important, the car gets more direct electromechanical power steering, larger dampers, a new, stronger rear subframe and wider rear wheels.

Now on to that electromechanical steering, I actually thought it is very direct but does not offer the same levels of feedback as Boxsters gone by, particularly to our 986 Boxster S. What I did really like in the 718 S I drove had the smaller more sporty steering wheel that wasn’t covered in buttons. It was nice to just, well, steer.

I know looks are subjective but I think the subtle changes and progression on the 718 makes it one very good looking car. The interior build quality, is what you would expect from Porsche, however I do feel the TT interior is a slightly nicer place to be. It does however still offer excellent storage space with it’s front a rear boots. Porsche claim a full set of golf clubs can fit but I didn’t get the chance to get mine out and try, so we will have to leave that to someone who owns a 718 and plays golf.

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I think where the 718 has progressed is the ability for it’s Jekyll and hyde nature. I didn’t get a chance to drive a manual, the sales lady insisted that you would only want PDK – personally I’m not convinced if it is just a weekend car. However what the PDK automatic 7 speed dual clutch does offer is the ability to put it in D around town or traffic and just glide around in comfort, then if you hit a B road and fancy a blast, all it takes is a quick tap of a few buttons and the car is transformed. Changing gears on the paddles is as quick as you need and with the new torque means you can actually effortlessly cover ground.

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So all in all, whilst the new 718 Boxster and Cayman are definitely steps forward in terms of looks and performance, I couldn’t come to place an order for a turbocharged Porsche, let alone a 4 cylinder turbocharged Porsche. Honestly given the choice for a weekend blast, I’d hop in our 986 Boxster S any day.

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