It’s the new 718 Boxster GTS and it essentially marks the return of a naturally aspirated flat-six to the more mainstream versions of Porsche’s mid-engined models.
Porsche hasn’t totally abandoned its four-cylinder philosophy (the turbocharged units remain in the standard and S versions), but after developing a bespoke flat-six motor for the Boxster Spyder and Cayman GT4 it was felt that it would be a shame to restrict its use to just these limited run specials. So now we have that 4.0-litre in the Boxster and Cayman GTS, the models that have traditionally danced the delicate line between hardcore driving fun and everday usability to brilliant effect.
But first, that engine. What’s important here is that this isn’t some decontented version of the Motorsport unit, but is instead exactly the same unit. The rev limit has been lowered to 7,700rpm, reducing maximum power to 395bhp (19bhp less than the GT4), but that’s about it. It delivers the same 310lb ft at 5,000rpm and exhales through the same twin exit exhaust system.
Even the six-speed manual gearbox is the same, although it has a slightly longer throw for easier day-to-day use. A seven-speed PDK will also be made available, but not until late 2020 at the earliest.
There’s less carry over in the chassis, but then the Motorsport cars had fewer bespoke parts than you’d think. The GTS does without rose-joints and some stiffening components, while its less steamroller-section rubber (235 front and 265 rear) results in a fractionally narrower track. Oh, and it’s got smaller brakes, with 350mm front discs compared to 380mm for the motorsport car. What remains are the active engine mounts, adaptive dampers and torque vectoring limited slip differential.
Elsewhere it’s much as before. There are some subtle visual tweaks, the most obvious being the addition of GTS 4.0 badges to the bottoms of the doors, but that’s about it. Inside there’s a smattering of Alcantara, plus some more GTS logos. The standard seats don’t look as all-embracing as the optional fixed-back buckets, but they’re supportive enough and more comfortable day to day.
Simply turning the key is all it takes to realise that you and the new Porsche 718 Boxster GTS are going to get along just fine. Where once your ears would have been assailed by a chuntering, sub-Subaru soundtrack there’s now real mechanical muscality, the engine sited just over your shoulder once again emitting a familiar hollow bark as it fires into life.
On the move it’s an absolute joy. Not only does it sound fantastic as it yelps and howls its way around to 7000rpm (it’s even better in the Boxster, where you can drop the roof and get even closer to the action), it punches hard, with a thick band of muscular torque firing the GTS down the road with real conviction. And the throttle response is spot on, each twitch of your toe resulting in precisely proportional increase in acceleration. In the real world it feels every bit as quick as the Spyder.