I’m so outta here.
Every day I wake up and just want to say “buh bye, y’all.” I want to run away from the kids, the dog, the responsibilities, the lockdowns, the constant stressful newsfeed. But it’s nearly impossible.
Except when you have a finely tuned, perfectly balanced 394 horsepower sports car in your driveway, and then, getting away is easy, even if only for the mile-long trek to the grocery store. There’s nothing like a Porsche Boxster to take you away from it all. Especially if it’s the 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 Disclosure: the model I test drove is an import from Germany and was provided for this review; it had a few slight differences, including a slightly less growly sound. The 718 Boxster GTS is available in the US at Porsche dealers for purchase or order. All opinions are, as always, my own.
If you’re not familiar with the Porsche 718 Boxster, let me introduce you: 718 refers to the engine, dubbed ‘718’ for its place in engine development chronology. Porsche’s founder, Ferdinand Porsche, famously said he couldn’t find the sports car of his dreams so he built it himself, and with each iteration and innovation, a number was given to the machine to serve at its name. The result can be confusing, which even Porsche admits. But think of the 718 as the slightly less powerful engine than the 911.
Then, Boxster is Porsche’s classic two-seater coupé (vs. the fastback style of the Carrera). It was introduced as an entry-level car to allow not-yet-indoctrinated drivers to begin their journey on the path to automotive bliss. Over the years since, Boxster has been refined to be as much of a performance car as its siblings, and not necessarily an entry level model (at $121,000, a very elite entry point!). Still, it’s a great place to start; the base Boxster, priced at $59,000, is Porche’s most affordable model.
As a result of the refinement, the Boxster melds the driver with the machine, perfectly powered and sculpted to take on each turn in the road. It’s not a super powered monster, but rather, it’s precisely crafted, weighted and propelled for the maximum efficiency of experience. Driving this car is simply a joy.
Practical and Magical: Storage, Tech and Wooohoooo
The Boxster might be Porsche’s best looking sports car. But, it’s also practical — as practical as a two-seat convertible stick shift roadster can be — and overall, much more than I expected.
First, there’s the storage. It has both a trunk and a frunk, so there is a lot of space for hauling things around. The frunk fit a week’s worth of groceries for my family, and the trunk can hold a couple of roll-aboards, duffels or gym bags.
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Then, there’s the tech. It has Apple CarPlay. It has cup holders, which in this car qualify as tech for the clever way they are hidden in the dash and how they can accommodate any size cup. Yup, I tried and succeeded. Then, there’s the rear view camera, which is sizable and easy to see. This is often a compromise in small roadsters, but not here.
And of course the one-touch drop top convertible. Just push a button in the center console and voila, the top folds down or back up in just seconds.
And the Bose premium sound system, which I felt less guilty cranking up with the top up than down. I was surprised at just how good the acoustics were in this little car — the soft top provides few hard surfaces for the sound to bounce off of — and with the top down, well, the sound might just shoot out into the atmosphere and never hit your ears, right? But Porsche has nailed it. The music was not just easy to hear, but it sounded rich and full, as you expect in a luxury car.
A WOW Drive Experience
You’d expect nothing less from Porsche than a great drive experience. Yes, the 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 is fast and agile; it’s easy to hop into traffic and zoom past the slow cars (or at least, they seem slow). That’s partially because this is a mid-engine sports car—the motor is behind the passenger cabin, though some components are under the hood— which means the car is perfectly balanced; it’s not front or rear heavy. Driving is an almost effortless task, all fun and no work.
And the zip that you feel in your toes as you flex your foot against the accelerator? It shoots through your entire body… you’re not driving, you’re commanding a precise machine.
Pick Your Seats… Carefully
My test model came equipped with bucket sport seats, for good and bad. On the good side, they are suede and super comfortable. There is nothing like being ensconced in suede, in this case, Race-Tex, Porsche’s vegan microfiber suede. I beg you to try it some day. The seats are formed to fit the driver like a glove, with side bolsters that hug your sides and thighs. And for me, the seat was a fit; maybe I’m the same size as the average German man?
However, for shorter or taller drivers, or drivers who have broader shoulders or middles, the seats may not be a fit. And, they are not very adjustable; they slide forward and back but it takes a wrench and some wrangling to adjust the seat height. Again, I found the position to be fine for me, but buyers should carefully consider these seats before taking the $5,900 plunge.
And, the thigh bolsters on the sport seats mean getting over the ‘hump’ and into the seat can take some practice (and only a few bruises). It’ll take a bit more practice to learn to do it gracefully dressed for a meeting or at the hotel valet.
However, I’m happy to report that these sport seats are optional; buyers can choose between standard seats or sport seats, which are less bucketed but still bolstered, and they both offer leather and suede options.
Passenger Comfort — A Surprising Bonus
A thrilling drive experience is good fun when you have the car and the road to yourself. But what about those times when someone else is lucky enough to ride along? She’ll be comfortable, too, even in the manual transmission version, which is often less fun for passengers. Porsche has managed to reduce shift shock (yes, I can admit that it’s the car and not my expert stick-driving skills here), especially at low speeds. So, shifting through the gears to get up to speed from a traffic light isn’t the high-octane head-jerk experience that might make a passenger ask to take the SUV instead.
Of course, buyers can opt for the 7-speed automatic transmission (a $3,730 upgrade) but with passenger comfort accounted for, is it necessary?
If you do opt for the automatic, however, you can also opt for the $1,650 adaptive cruise system.
Finally, a Good Reason For Auto Stop/Start
This was a surprise: in traffic with the top down, it was a relief for the engine to pause rather than idle loudly. You can turn off the auto stop/start of course, but it was a joy to have the engine pause and let us soak up the sounds of nature, especially in little or no traffic. Even in traffic, many cars are fairly quiet these days (all those auto stop/start systems at work?), so when the engine paused, the feeling was peaceful. The much debated but fuel-saving auto stop/start got an A+ from me during our test drive.
Options Stretch the Price Waaaaaaay Out
The model we test drove carried an all-in price of $121,000; that’s $33,000 in options—maybe some (most?) things you can live without (not the suede seats, though. They are a must).
I’d argue against the “Entry and Drive” package, which is essentially a smart key and motion-activated trunk and frunk. Porsche is one of the last brands to actually give you a key that you insert into an ignition and turn to start. I know, it’s nice to hop in, press a button and go, but the satisfaction of inserting the key, in this case a fob, turning it and feeling the rumble of the engine as it comes to life is satisfying. It’s the first step on the way to owning the road.
But I’d definitely opt for some (or all!) of the suede interior options; from the door panels ($690) to the dashboard ($1,610) to the visors and more, you can have it all covered in suede for $3,570.
Same for carbon fiber. There are a variety of options (some carbon fiber details are included in other packages, too) including carbon fiber floor mats and owners manual cover (for $1,040!). For when the owners manual itself is a collector’s item. Choosing all the carbon fiber all can add $6,000 to the price tag.
Then, there’s the GTS package ($3,690) which adds contrasting color stitching and seat belts, GTS logo on the seats and carbon fiber dashboard trim. This package incorporates some of the other details, so might actually reduce the overall price the options. And don’t forget the premium sound; the Bose surround sound system adds $990.
One add-on that is a bargain are the kids car seats. Yes, Porsche offers branded child passenger car seats! These are actually made by Britax and are comparably priced to other kids car seats: $483 for the infant seat, $581 for the toddler seat and $287 for the bigger kid car seat (essentially, a booster). The infant seat can be installed rear-facing but the toddler seat cannot; it is only forward facing, as is the big-kid seat (and of course, make sure your airbags are off if you install a kid in the front seat of any car).
What Weeeeeee Loved
- The thrill of a mid-engine sports car
- 394 perfectly tuned horses
- The easy one-button convertible top
- Suede, suede, suede
- A stick shift, which is standard (but of course, automatic is available)
- The lack of shift shock
- So many storage options!
- Those cup holders. So clever!
- Apple CarPlay
- Bose surround sound audio
Driving the Porsche 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 made me channel my inner Lucinda Williams finding her joy. Apparently, you don’t need to go to Slidell or West Memphis. It can be had at the end of your driveway. So say buh-bye and go find your joy.