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THE Porsche Boxster has been refreshed - sans two cylinders - but it doesn't seem to have lost anything else. Instead, it has gained a new number - 718. When the two-seater Boxster convertible was launched 20 years ago, it was a sensation not only for its styling and handling, but for the fact that it was returning to Porsche's mid-engined roots.
The original Porsche Spyder had used a horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine and the Boxster had a flat-six to drive the rear wheels.
Two decades later, though, the latest Boxster gets a new engine and a new badge to finally tie in all that heritage.
Porsche has dropped two cylinders for a flat-four and renamed the car 718 Boxster in a nod to the Porsche 718 racers from over half a century ago.
There are two turbocharged horizontally opposed four-cylinder roadsters - the 718 Boxster with a 2.0-litre producing 300hp and 380 Nm, and the 718 Boxster S 2.5 with 350hp and 420 Nm.
The engine on the 718 Boxster S also stands out for its turbocharger with variable turbine geometry (VTG) - just like its big brother, the 911 Turbo.
But otherwise, the 718 Boxster S is essentially Porsche's mass-market aim to further distinguish its entry-level sports car from the flagship model.
The free-revving four-cylinder unit in the Boxster S - neatly lopped off from the 3.8 six-pot - sounds more industrial, although it isn't an unpleasant noise if you are partial to lawn tractors.
But the low-end oomph is impressive, with maximum torque available from just below 2,000rpm.
This enables the 718 Boxster S to be lighter and faster than the six-cylinder Boxster S it replaces, plus it is more efficient. Power is up 35hp for zero-100kmh in 4.2 seconds (down 0.6 second), while fuel economy is 13 per cent better at 7.3 litres per 100km. Mated to a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission, turbo lag is virtually undetectable, with a Sport Response Button on the steering wheel to pre-condition the turbocharger and heighten responsiveness. Press this button and the engine and transmission are on standby for 20 seconds, with the wastegate closed and the charge pressure increased.
In this state, engine response is more sensitive to accelerator-pedal input to achieve maximum power faster.
Do this when leaving the lights and you may scare more than other road-users with the back-thumping acceleration.
The steering, however, is ponderous. Perhaps, it is set up for higher speeds or track day, but around town, the 718 Boxster S could be a senior citizen in a silver zone.
Body control is superb though, with a new PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management). The variable damping comes with a 20mm reduction in ride height (from 10mm before). All that needs to be said is that the 718 Boxster corners flat, period.
So even with two cylinders fewer, you get the idea that the 718 is still very much a Porsche.
Porsche 718 Boxster S
Engine: 2,497cc flat-4 turbocharged
Gearbox: 7-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission
Max power: 350 hp @ 6,500 rpm
Max torque: 420 Nm @ 1,900-4,500 rpm
0-100 kmh: 4.2 secs
Top speed: 285 kmh
CO2 emissions: 167 g/km
Average OMV: S$94,000
Price from: S$316,588 (without COE)
Distributor; Stuttgart Auto
Tel: 6363 0911