In Review

Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman: Prices, specs and reviews

New entry-level sports car has small facelift and controversial turbo engines

Porsche's revamped 718 generation Boxster and Cayman line-up is now complete, following the unveiling of the Cayman at the Beijing Auto Show.

While things appear to be as they were on the surface - both cars have received small facelifts over their predecessors – there have been dramatic changes under the bonnet.

The way Porsche factors both the Boxster and Cayman into its line-up has been shaken up, too, most notably by the name. Each car takes on the "718" moniker in homage to one of the label's racers from the late 1950s and are now pretty much officially positioned as convertible and hardtop versions of each other.

Here's what to know about the two cars ahead of release.

Design

Visually, there's little difference between the new 718 variants and their older versions, although Porsche claims that only the boot-lid, roof and windscreen are the same.           

The front ends have been tapered into sharper, more aggressive profiles, with slightly revised headlights mated to LED strips running underneath.  The air intakes have also been redesigned and now run across the front bumper in a flatter, lower profile, making the cars appear wider than before. 

Larger vents feed into the rear axle and the door handles are new, too.

More noticeable changes come round the back. Continuing the "wider" theme, Porsche has redesigned the rear lights and connected them using an accent strip running underneath the small lip spoiler. An electronically raising spoiler lurks among it all.

There are redesigned rear bumpers on both, with new exhaust setups – a large, single opening now sits in the middle of the Cayman's bumper.

Engines

Here's where the big – and somewhat controversial – changes take place. Porsche has ditched naturally aspirated six-cylinder units in favour of turbocharged flat-fours in its standard offerings, making these the first Porsche road cars to be powered by four cylinders since the 968, which was discontinued in 1995.

According to Evo, "the new four-cylinder engines will no doubt be a source of consternation for fans of the existing six-cylinder units", but they offer more power, more torque and better fuel economy – the last of those three bonuses the reason Porsche has found the downsize necessary.

In entry level trim, both the Boxster and Cayman get a 2.0-litre turbocharged flat-four with 296bhp and 280lb-ft torque. It's 35bhp up on the 2.7-litre naturally aspirated flat-six of old and much torquier – it gets an extra 73lb-ft thanks to turbocharging. Both cars deal with 0-62mph in 4.7secs and on to a top speed of 170mph, with Porsche claiming the engine can return 40.9mpg.

More expensive "S" variants will get a 2.5-litre unit with 345bhp and 310lb-ft torque between 1900-4500rpm. They will do 0-62mph in 4.2secs and top out at 177mph. The result is "incredibly quick and enjoyable to drive", says Carbuyer.

Gearbox choices for each car extend to a six-speed manual, or Porsche's optional seven-speed dual-clutch PDK automatic.

Due to the increased performance, Porsche has fitted the cars with larger brakes as standard. The entry level cars get the brakes from their S trim predecessors, while S cars get the four-piston calipers from the 911 Carrera. The disks are 13ins at the front, and 11.7ins at the rear.

Four-cylinder engines are the only confirmed units so far, but there's still a chance Porsche could use six-cylinder engines in further additions to the line-up.

Auto Express says that Porsche has hinted that feedback for its Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder 3.8 could be too good for the firm to completely skip out of using six-cylinder engines in its latest cars, and special editions added to the line-up during its lifespan could switch back to the old naturally aspirated units.

Interior

Keeping with the subtleties of the exterior facelift, the interior will feel similar to owners of the last generation cars, but with one or two styling tweaks and some new technology additions. 

The steering wheel is one of the attention grabbers – it's a new one, and inspired by the wheel found in the cabin of the firm's flagship 918 supercar. Repositioned and re-modelled air vents, as well as a new clock and upgraded dials are inside too.

The infotainment package has been upgraded with these latest cars, now supporting Apple CarPlay with Siri integration, as well as a new optional sound system and some other tech based additions, like a wireless charging mat for smartphones.

Reviews – 718 Boxster

Auto Express gives the Boxster 718 a five-star rating, calling it "enormously rewarding to drive", while its more efficient engine "won't have you stopping at the pumps quite so often". 

Swapping the beloved flat-six engine for a more fuel-friendly four-cylinder layout caused uproar among Porsche fans, but the magazine says the "longer you spend time with it the better it gets".

Evo disagrees, saying that the turbo engine is "fairly characterless in the way it sounds". The optional sports exhaust does little to enhance the noise and it "doesn't improve once on the move", the magazine says.

However, the new Boxster is faster than the outgoing model, says Evo, and "nothing else in the category matches it for driving fun" or practicality.

Its suspension is so adaptive that there's "no immediate need to abandon the default setting," says Autocar. Pushing it hard allows the driver to lean into it, delivering almost "endless grip and poise".

Overall, the magazine concludes that the 718 Boxster is "faster, more efficient, better inside and [with] better handling" compared to its predecessor.

Price

The Boxster and the Cayman have switched places, with the hardtop Cayman now undercutting the convertible Boxster for the first time.

The Cayman starts from £39,878 for the standard 2.0-litre version, rising to £48,843 for the more powerful "S" variant. The prices are up fractionally on the old, six-cylinder equivalents, but tucked in neatly underneath the 718 Boxster.

The convertible equivalent kicks off at £41,739, swelling to £50,658 for the 345bhp "S" flagship. Unlike the minute price rises seen on the Cayman, the premiums you'll pay for the new 718 Boxster are four figures higher than the older car.

Release

Order books are open now, but the cars have different release dates owning to Porsche electing to unveil them at different times. Deliveries of the 718 Boxster have begun, but prospective owners of the hardtop Cayman variant will have a wait on their hands. Deliveries probably won't begin until the autumn.

Reviews - 718 Cayman

Auto Express says the base model Cayman, with the smaller wheels and manual transmission, is the pick of the two, as it "offers the purist driving thrills with heaps of performance" and a suitable amount of luxury.

While the four-cylinder turbo engine "lacks the previous generation's electrifying soundtrack", the mag says, it is more frugal and produces less CO2 than its predecessor.

However, Autocar disagrees, saying its tests found the manual achieved 34.9mpg, "only 3.5mpg ahead of the old 3.4-litre GTS". The magazine also found the Cayman S was only marginally more economical than a Cayman GT4 when driven hard around a circuit. 

The four-cylinder engine "doesn't offer any real running cost advantage", concludes the mag, but it still says the Cayman is one of the best sport cars on sale "by some distance" thanks to its handling.

Drivers will "miss the wonderful old normally aspirated flat-six", says Evo; however, the Cayman has "enjoyed a more successful transition to turbocharging" than the open-top Boxster and while the BMW M2 offers more seats and power, the Cayman's boasts a better chassis and feels "perfectly balanced".

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