The engine of the standard Boxster is now 2.0-liters with the S growing that to 2.5-liters.
Flat-Six Powered Boxster
The above pictured car is a first generation Porsche Boxster (986). When the 986 roadster first appeared for the 1997 model year there was no S variant. Instead you could only purchase a car with a 201 horsepower 2.5-liter flat-six. While not the quickest in a straight line it could take the corners like few other cars.
The Boxster has always been powered by naturally aspirated flat-six engines, that is until this new generation. In many ways all that the engine powering the 718 shares with the 986 is the 2.5-liter size that you find in the 718 S model.
The Legendary 718
Instead of looking at the last generation Boxster the 718 Boxster looks back to the legendary 718 roadster of the 50’s. The 718 was powered by a flat-four engine and replaced the 550 Spyder. Flat-fours powered the early Porsches until the 911 appeared on the scene and the four cylinder engines were relegated to the entry level cars in the lineup.
How the 718 and 986 Compare
Just how does the 718 Boxster compare to the first generation 986 Boxster? The older car is down on power by 100 to 150 horses depending on if you opt for the S model. 0-60 mph times go down to 4.5 seconds in the standard 718 versus 6.7 seconds in the standard 986 (although a few magazines in the late 90’s managed a 6 second flat time). The top speed of the standard 718 Boxster is 170 mph versus 149 mph for the early Boxster.
It is not surprising that on paper every stat favors the newer car. It is faster both in the corners and in a straight line.
From a styling stand point both cars have a traditional Porsche look with the high rounded fenders, but where the early car has softer lines the 718 has more masculine lines with queues such as the large air intakes behind the doors. The headlight shape is also a big styling difference. The 986 Boxster used the same headlights as the 996 variant of the 911 which was very controversial styling at the time and later Boxsters went away from it with more rounded lights.
Where the early Boxster does shine is its steering feel and lighter weight. The older car is about 200 lbs lighter, but the added power of the 718 more than makes up for that. The steering on the first generation Boxster is more pure and direct thanks to its use of hydronic power steering versus the electronic steering in the new Boxster (which debuted in the 981). While the feel is better in the older car, the average driver won’t notice the difference. Only the more jaded enthusiasts will notice it. The 718 Boxster manages not to take too much away from the driving experience even for these drivers.
The sound of the 718 is a actually quite good. Of course it is different than the naturally aspirated flat-six that it replaces and when compared to the first generation car the 986 sounds better at about 5,000 RPMs, but that isn’t to say that the 718 doesn’t sound pleasant.
So, has the loss of two cylinders and addition of a turbocharger ruined the Boxster? No, no it hasn’t. In fact it has made it better. It is now more efficient and thanks to turbocharging much more tuneable. The sound may have changed, but the 718 has evolved into an even better overall machine.