Porsche 718 Boxster T | Driven

Despite only launching at the end of last year, it would be understandable if the 718 Cayman and Boxster T had either passed you by at the time - or, dare we say it - been ever so slightly forgotten. See, in a year for Porsches that's seen debuts for a whole new generation of 911, the brand's first electric production vehicle and a rework of the GT4/Spyder dynamic duo, a light fettling of the basic Boxster was never likely to hold anyone's attention for long.

So a brief retread might be handy. Both Cayman and Boxster T are derived from the 2.0-litre, 300hp entry points to the 718 range, building on a philosophy established when the 991 was, er, T-weaked. All Ts come equipped with desirable options - in this case the GT Sport steering wheel, the Porsche Torque Vectoring with limited-slip diff, Sport Chrono, active drivetrain mounts - as well as some extras unique to these cars. So the 718 T gets the PASM Sport Chassis with 20mm drop (usually only available on 2.5 Boxsters and Caymans, not the 2.0-litre cars), a shorter shift for the manual gearbox, door pulls instead of handles for full race car vibe and, uh, Agate Grey mirror caps. Perhaps grey paint is more aerodynamic...

Sarcasm aside just for a second, it should be noted that the T cars have proved pretty damn good thus far. What look on paper like fairly minor spec changes manifest themselves on the road as something that bit more than expected: a little additional focus, a sliver of extra engagement, entertainment notched up just a tad over standard. The Ts have justified their billings in their respective ranges, put simply, the experience elevated above the standard car to just about warrant the premium.

Porsche is backing itself to do the same here, plonking the T in a drive event with the 991 Speedster and 718 Spyder - which is pretty gutsy given the motorsport department's capacity for making everything below it look a little silly. And, of course, there's no great shock: the Boxster T is not a cut-price Spyder, feeling wooly, detached, sloppy and a just a little plain, to be frank, after the six-cylinder car. That should be obvious, because it was true with old Boxsters and the previous iteration of Spyder. But just so we're absolutely clear...

Reset expectations and the Boxster T, even in sodden conditions, is - who'd have thought it - a pretty well sorted, unerringly complete and genuinely enjoyable sports car. Inherently, and entirely predictably, it feels a lot like a 2.0-litre 718. That means all the things this Boxster has been praised for - uncanny control of mass, wheels and balance, tactile, accurate and satisfying controls, an infallible driving position, compact and wieldy dimensions, the sense of finely wrought and expertly applied engineering - well, you know the spiel by now.

Thing is, also not unpredictably, the T makes for a little bit better Boxster. Not in a transformative way, but enough to be noticed. That altered manual gearbox means a shift that bit snappier and engaging than standard; just having a smaller diameter wheel gives a heightened sense of connection to the front wheels; the differential can be felt making best use of the power and torque on the way out of bends; and shameful though it is to admit, there's something enjoyable about using the door pulls to get out that makes it feel like an old rally car. Sorry.

The Boxster has a further advantage in its various enhancements thanks to a lack of rivals. Where the Cayman equivalent must battle alternatives as diverse and desirable as the Alpine A110 (in standard and S forms), the BMW M2 Competition and Toyota Supra, none of those cars are offered as convertibles. Right now the 718's biggest rivals are the Z4 (which doesn't drive as well), the Audi TT S (ditto) and the Alfa 4C Spider (which is no longer being made). Even if the T kit didn't modestly improve things, the 718 would still be looking good in the segment.

That isn't to say, however, that the Boxster T is a perfect sports car. In a Porsche world of the 992, Taycan and Panamera, indeed even compared with the Z4, the Boxster's interior now looks a little old and, even with some jazzy stitching, not the most exciting. It all works, it all feels sturdy, though it would be reasonable to find cabrio buyers - probably more so than their coupe counterparts - demanding something more.

Furthermore, even with a light smattering of options - Bose stereo upgrade, 718 T interior upgrade package, Park Assist and two-zone climate control being the expensive ones - this is a Β£60,000 sports car. And, hand on heart, this doesn't quite feel a Β£60k experience. Many will, no doubt, point to the engine at this point, but the truth is that this is a far more special and engaging petrol unit than it's given credit for (one admittedly still cursed by a rotten soundtrack).

But let's not go off on that tangent - at least not this time. The 718 remains the best driving convertible at this money, and is slightly (if tangibly) improved by T specification. Some buyers will always want the additional spec sheet kudos of the 350hp S (and its variable vane turbo), but seldom does the 2.0-litre car want for additional performance on the road. Certainly this is a more enjoyable car to drive than a 718 S (without options) that would cost a few thousand more.

Crucially, however, the improvement is marginal so while the T comes recommended (assuming the six-cylinder charms of the BMW don't sway you), be careful when it comes to speccing. It's a great car as is, and pulling it too far from the basic 718 or pushing it too close to nicely-optioned S territory would defeat the point. Some things don't require much meddling with, and the Porsche Boxster is most certainly one of them. The 718 T shows that off to a...

Engine: 1,988cc 4-cyl turbocharged
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 300@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 280@2,150-4,500rpm
0-62mph: 5.1sec
Top speed: 170mph
Weight: 1,425kg (EU with driver)
MPG: 32.1 (WLTP combined)
CO2: 187g/km
Price: Β£53,006 (as standard; price as tested Β£59,732 comprised of Bose surround sound system for Β£834, Sport Chrono stopwatch in Racing Yellow for Β£245, Isofix points in passenger seats for Β£126, Seat heating for Β£294, Two-zone automatic climate control for Β£539, 718 T Interior Package for Β£1,809, ParkAssist (front and rear) for Β£623, Cruise control for Β£228, Auto dimming mirrors with rain sensor for Β£345, 64-litre fuel tank for Β£84, Rollover bars painted in body colour for Β£357 and Black leather interior with 718 T Interior Package in Racing Yellow for Β£1,242)

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Comments (81) Join the discussion on the forum

  • KPB1973 11 Nov 2019

    Nah, not for me. Even as an unabashed Porsche fan and serial boxster owner, I'm struggling to think of a worse way to spend £60k.

  • AJB88 11 Nov 2019

    Wish my 981 had them seatbelt door handle pulls.

  • yonex 11 Nov 2019

    It’s a lot of money for what it is, but so is everything. The bigger issue for me is just how bland it looks these days? No desire to own one in that configuration, last of the flat sixes with a manual box please.

  • AJB88 11 Nov 2019

    yonex said:
    It’s a lot of money for what it is, but so is everything. The bigger issue for me is just how bland it looks these days? No desire to own one in that configuration, last of the flat sixes with a manual box please.
    Think the issue is the T bumpers look very bland compared to something like the GT4.

    My 981 S has the GTS bumpers fitted to it, I find the normal S bumpers very bland.

  • Venisonpie 11 Nov 2019

    Turd polishing.

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