Porsche has always existed in a realm of its own. Since time immemorial, it has adhered to a certain creed that went beyond mere profitability or business sense; the cars that carry its name have perennially showed an unwavering dedication to the essence of what a performance car truly is. This commitment, more than anything, is what has led to the Stuggart brand's rise from obscure oddity to beloved icon. It's also what has led to one of the greatest sports cars currently on the market: the 2018 Porsche 718 Boxster.

Best Value

There's no other brand as egregious as Porsche when it comes to an overabundance of options. This essentially means two things: one, that the advertised base price is a bald-faced lie, and two, that you have to choose options carefully, lest you end up with a six-figure bill come check out.

As we waded through the options sheet, we managed to exercise restraint and only spend $11,260 on extras. Of this number, a good few thousand dollars was spent on comfort and convenience stuff, such as a leather interior and the available 18-way sport plus seats. The rest of that eye-watering sum was dropped on the Premium Package, the excellent Porsche Active Suspension Management system, and the torque-vectoring mechanical differential. Like we said: when it comes to Porsche, the base price is a bald-faced lie.

After Stuggart takes all our money, here's the 718 Boxster we'd be getting in return:

  • Model: 2018 Porsche 718 Boxster S
  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-four
  • Output: 350 hp / 309 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual
  • Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 20 City / 26 Hwy
  • Options: Leather interior ($2,950), 18-way adaptive sport seats plus ($3,830), Premium Package ($1,370, bi-xenon headlights, auto dimming mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control), Porsche Active Suspension Management ($1,790), Porsche torque vectoring ($1,320)
  • Base Price: $70,850 (including a $1,050 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $82,110

Performance

Porsche 718 Boxster

What should we wax poetic about first? The steering, brakes, and handling? Or the transmission and engine? Each one of these major components seems to have been dialed in with uncanny precision and plays in perfect harmony with the others. The steering is light and accurate, an eager communicator of what's happening down at the tarmac. The brakes have superb pedal feel and haul the 718 Boxster down with reassuring confidence. The handling, though, might just take the cake. Being mid-engined, it's naturally balanced in a way few other sports cars are. Even with the computer nannies that are inevitably walking the beat in the background, the Boxster still has an air of mechanical, analog goodness, which manifests itself even in the subtlest of inputs.

As for the business of shifting, Porsche offers a choice between a shift-it-yourself six-speed and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, dubbed PDK in the brand's parlance. Both transmissions are lovely pieces of work. The six-speed shifts with an action that's as crisp as a freshly pressed suit, and the clutch takeup is equally satisfying. If you'd prefer the car to do the dirty work of changing gears, the PDK is top-notch. It'll crack off lighting-fast gear changes before you can blink, and is competent in any scenario. It'll also blitz to 60 mph faster than the manual, and will return better fuel economy to boot. With the Sport Chrono Package, the PDK gets a launch control feature that returns zero-to-60 runs of just 4.2 seconds in Boxster S trimmings.

All Boxsters are powered by a 2.0-liter flat-four that sits midway between the rear wheels and the driver. In base trim, it makes 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque; these numbers go up to 350 hp and 309 lb-ft for the S model. New for 2018 is a GTS model that raises power to 365 horses and 317 lb-ft. Opt for this powerplant and zero-to-60 times drop under four seconds.

Whichever poison you pick, the Boxster offers a composed and comfortable ride that walks a pleasing line between comfortable and uncompromised. Two available drive modes (upped to five with the Sport Chrono Package) let buyers decide if they want to skew their drive more toward Sunday cruising or a Saturday track day.

Style

There's a certain quintessential look to a sports car. It can be different things to different people depending on era or country of origin, but the underlying motifs are always the same: purposeful, athletic, and alluring. Judging from the Boxster, it seems like the designers in Stuggart understand this quite well. Even the most car-averse folks will know when they see it that this is something more than just a two-door grocery-getter – the short overhangs, sharp lines, and muscular stance all coalesce to form an automobile that alludes to the serious, focused driving it was built for.

The same themes of subtely attractive functionality carry over into the cozy cabin. Behind the right-sized, thick-rimmed three-spoke wheel sits a prominently displayed tachometer. The rising console keep things feeling intimate, though there's ample room for two. Seats are comfortable and well-bolstered, especially if you splurge on the optional 18-way power-adjustable thrones.

The Best and Worst Things

The Boxster's hardware turns this two-door from just another pricey sports car to something worth ranting and raving about. Hands down, it's a true driver's car through and through.

What we don't like about it is the ordering process. There's a gazillion options to be had, ranging from the ridiculous (leather pouch for your key fob, $540) to the ridiculously expensive (Carbon-ceramic brakes, $7,410). If you're not careful, a Boxster will balloon from the advertised $59,000 base price to six figures as fast as the PDK will change gears.

Right For? Wrong For?

Porsche 718 Boxster

For the serious driver who finds the American sports cars too boisterous and the European performance machines too juvenile, the stoic yet tantalizing Boxster is the only option.

If you need more than 10 cubic feet of storage space or want to carry more than one passenger, the intimate nature of the Boxster won't fit the bill.

The Bottom Line

A truly excellent sports car is more than just horsepower ratings or zero-to-60 times, but a cohesive and masterful blending of the car's individually important faculties. This is the mark of the best performance cars on the market at any price point – and it can be confidently said that the 2018 Porsche 718 Boxster falls into this rarefied category. In a word, it's simply sublime, and for the money, there's nothing that can touch the well-rounded excellence of this German all-star.