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Flat out, Porsche's flat-4 -powered 718 Boxster will get to 62 mph in 5.1 sec. (Porsche).

What We're Driving: 2018 Porsche 718 Boxster

For enthusiast users of high performance sports cars, cylinders count. But when the counting stops at four, it can be a figure of disappointment for many who have become accustomed to the sound of six or eight.

In 2016, Porsche decided to replace the Boxster's flat-6 with flat-4 power units, upping performance and reducing emissions.

The company gave both the 2.0-L and 2.5-L versions variable geometry turbocharging and an optional electronically adjustable exhaust system. So equipped, the engines sing a different 'tune' to help make up for the abandonment of the classic flat-6 sound.

I attended the 1996 launch of the original 2.5-L Boxster and of all later iterations, including the latest 718, the latter causing mixed emotions in the Porsche fan club. Some complained that the new turbo engines were, overall, not what they might have been in terms of that subjective issue: character.

Now that the initial brouhaha has subsided, I decided to take an (almost) dispassionate look at the situation two years on; “almost” because for 20 years I have owned a 3.2-L air-cooled 911 Carrera.
The 718 2.0-L Boxster is the entry level model to the Porsche range, delivering 220 kW (295 hp) at 6500 rpm. That gets the car to 274 km/h (170 mph) and from 0-100 km in 5.1 seconds with manual gearbox. Performance is always strong, supported by a flat torque curve to the 380-N·m (280 lb·ft) peak.

Porsche's electronic sports-exhaust system helps improve the engine’s basic sound but a boxer-4 simply is not as smooth as the six. Nor does it deliver the aural delight. It is undoubtedly a step backwards in terms of pure engine character, a step (or two) forward in terms of environmental responsibility — either way, the Boxster remains one of the world’s most impressive and thoroughly enjoyable sports cars. Continue reading »