Porsche’s decision to downsize the new generation Boxster’s engines from flat-6 to turbocharged flat-4 may shock purists, but power and torque are up, and fuel consumption and emissions down. So the 2017 Boxster is a demonstration of what efficient automotive technology can deliver. And if four cylinders still seem a bit demeaning for the brand, consider that the 919 hybrid race car uses a turbocharged V4.
Full details of the new engines were not released when this article was published, but Automotive Engineering soon will be sitting down with Porsche engineers and driving the new 718 Boxster; in depth story to come. Meantime, Porsche does not dispute the supposition that the new "boxer" fours are shortened versions of the current flat-6s in the latest 911s, but with only a single turbo.
The new Boxster, to be formally revealed at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, gets fresh suspension tuning, steering that is claimed to be 10% more direct, uprated brakes, and some relatively minor cosmetic changes including a new dashboard. And the car’s "718" nomenclature is a modern nod to 4-cylinder Porsches in the 1950s and 1960s that found success on racetracks.
But it’s the engine change that is most significant. It is 20 years since the 2-seat mid-engine Boxster was launched in 2.5-L flat-6 form and it is more than 20 years since the last 4-cylinder Porsche (the front engine, rear drive 968) was produced.
The new car will initially be available in two variable-geometry-turbocharged (VG) forms: 718 Boxster with 2.0-L engine and 718 Boxster S with a 2.5-L. Its sibling coupe Cayman is expected to receive similar treatment. Later, Porsche is likely to add higher performance versions of the engines.
Not that they lack power already. The 2.0-L produces a claimed 220 kW, and 257 kW for the S (295 and 344 hp, respectively). Porsche claims it is the only manufacturer to offer VG technology for production gasoline engines, for both Boxster and 911.
The new models have fuel economy improvements of up to 13%, the company claims. The 718 Boxster with PDK has a NEDC combined fuel consumption of 6.9 L/100 km. The S version with PDK achieves 7.3L/100 km combined.
The 2.0-L engine's peak torque is increased by almost 25% (100 N·m; 74 lb·ft) over the previous equivalent Boxster, with 380 N·m (280 lb·ft) available from 1950 to 4500 rpm. The 2.5-L S engine achieves 420 N·m (310 lb·ft) peak from 1900 to 4500 rpm—a gain of 60 N·m (44 lb·ft) compared to its equivalent predecessor.
Performance figures are subsequently improved. The 718 Boxster with optional PDK double-clutch automatic transmission and Sport Chrono Package, now with an Individual program plus Normal, Sport and Sport Plus settings—and a Sport Response Button that delivers an afterburner-like assist for 20 s—helps propel the car from zero to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) in 4.7 s, or 0.8 s quicker. The 718 Boxster S with PDK and Sport Button makes the dash in 4.2 s, a gain of 0.6 s.
Claimed top speed of the 2.0-L is 275 km/h (171 mph); the 2.5-L is claimed to achieve 285 km/h (177 mph).
Each 718 model is equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission as standard. The PDK now features the fuel-saving “virtual gears” of the 911 model series.
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