Back in the mid-90s, Porsche USA was on the ropes. Sales were dismal enough that the marque was ready to throw in the towel and give up on the American market. What saved the Stuggart lads from defeat? The Boxster. Since its inception in 1997, the cheapest Porsche has bolstered the bottom line while delivering an authentic driving experience befitting the brand. The 2019 Porsche 718 Boxster convertible – along with its hardtop twin, the 718 Cayman (covered separately) – is one of the best sports cars for sale under six figures.
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2019 Porsche 718 Boxster Overview
What's New for 2019
The Boxster family grows this year with the addition of the Boxster T. The T (short for Touring) is similar in concept to the 911 T, in that it comes standard with all the normally-optional performance goodies but leaves aside any extra luxury touches. In the world of Porsche, the T is also a bit of a bargain, coming in at five to 10 percent cheaper than a comparably-equipped base Boxster.
Choosing Your Porsche 718 Boxster
Porsche is notorious for offering their cars à la carte, but the 718 is thankfully much less of a multi-model smorgasbord than the 911. Four trim levels anchor the lineup, all of which sport a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
The regular model and the T both make 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque; the S pushes 350 horses and 309 lb-ft of torque. The extra power of the hot-rodded S allows it do zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds with the manual transmission, which is a half-second quicker than the regular stick-shift Boxster. When equipped with the seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission, that same run can be as quick as four seconds flat for the S or 4.5 seconds for the non-S.
The GTS also uses a 2.5-liter turbocharged boxer-four, and compared to the S it offers 15 extra horsepower and no additional torque. On first blush it might seem rather odd that the power differential between the S and the GTS is so minute. But the GTS isn't as much about outright speed as it is about providing the most thoroughly balanced and performance-attuned driving experience within the lineup. It accomplishes this in the same manner as the philosophically-similar T: by bundling all the worthwhile performance pieces at a price cheaper than if one were to similarly option up an S model. Look at the GTS through this lens and suddenly those measly 15 extra horsepower seem less like a disappointment and more like a cherry on top.
As with the 911, Boxster options run amok. Space constraints and concerns about relevancy keep us from listing out every available option; otherwise, there'd be multiple paragraphs denoting prices for tchotchkes like leather-covered key fobs and embroidered headrests.
Also note the 718 Cayman is available. It is identical to the Boxster in every way save the fact that it has a fixed roof. Consider it the hardtop variant of the convertible Boxster. A separate article will cover the Cayman's pricing and specifications.
We'd look to the upcoming T as our choice of the 2019 Porsche 718 Boxster litter. Despite using the most tepid version of the 2.5-liter engine, the raft of performance features as well as the shorter gearing promise to make this variant the most thrilling of the bunch for hustling along a winding back road. As for the dizzying array of options, we'd keep it simple by getting the Premium Package and nothing more.
2019 Porsche 718 Boxster Review
Thrilling performance. The driving experience is the name of the game for small sports cars, and the 2019 Porsche 718 Boxster is as good as it gets. It may not have the all-out speed of its older sibling, the Porsche 911, but the 718 Boxster feels just as potent.
Clever turbos cut down on lag, which means responses are lightning quick. The steering is the same – the rack is electronically assisted, but it relays plenty of feedback from the road. This is an impressive balance, and one that other premium badges haven’t mastered (looking at you, Audi).
Porsche’s PDK gearbox defines the genre of dual-clutch automatics, and, especially with launch control, it's excellent. All the same, we appreciate that the 718 Boxster still comes with a six-speed manual transmission, another rarity these days.
All the performance details are as finely honed as you’d expect from Porsche. Brakes are powerful and responsive. The suspension is composed but aggressive. If these aren’t enough, Porsche’s options list holds enough upgrades to satisfy all but the wildest of speed demons. The 718 may be the entry point to Porsche’s lineup, but for most mortals, it’s all the performance you could ever dream of.
Cozy or cramped? The 718 Boxster makes no bones about its mission in life, which generally doesn’t include carrying passengers or cargo. Seating is limited to two, although the supportive and leather-trimmed seats do make the journey comfortable.
Baggage is another matter. The 718 Boxster’s mid-engine layout means that cargo space is split between a small trunk and a hood-access “frunk.” The power-folding soft top encroaches on the space even further.
The end result is a grand total of 9.6 cubic feet of cargo, with 5.2 of that located in the frunk. That’s enough for a (light) grocery run, but will probably be a squeeze on a weekend away.
No one is buying the 718 Boxster for its utility, but a Chevrolet Corvette manages 15 cubic feet behind the seats. Still, the Boxster isn’t the worst in its class – a BMW Z4 has only eight cubic feet for cargo.
Porsche sophistication... Although it’s a blast on the back roads and the track, performance isn’t the 718 Boxster’s only trick. The cabin is outfitted with modern tech, and even base models come with luxury touches like leather accents. The upper trims can wear leather, wood, carbon fiber, and a dizzying array of paint and upholstery choices.
The exterior has grown more refined since the last generation, too. A more aggressive rear end sets off Porsche’s classic hood shape, giving the 718 Boxster a little more identity than it had in the past. GTS trims take the muscular lines and make them menacing.
…at Porsche prices. Starting at just over $60,000, the 718 Boxster isn't cheap to start. But a careless trip through Porsche’s configurator will tip the Boxster toward the six-figure mark.
That base price is more than most competitors. The BMW Z4 starts closer to $50,000, and even a Chevy Corvette can be had for less than the 718 Boxster. The Toyota Supra – rumored to start around the $50,000 mark as well – is just around the corner and has Porsche squarely in its sights.
The good news is that a base 718 Boxster feels special enough to warrant Porsche’s premium. The less good news is that adding any options will drive the price up in a hurry. Our only major qualm is the lack of standard automatic emergency braking, but, all the same, bring a calm stomach and a deep wallet.
Final thoughts. Sports cars are as much about personality as statistics, and the 2019 Porsche 718 Boxster is difficult to dislike. It’s sublime to drive and classy both inside and out.
Being a two-seater spots convertible, it comes with compromises. Cargo space is scarce, and the options list intimidates by breadth and cost. The 718 Boxster’s competition is nothing to sneeze at, starting with Porsche’s (slightly cheaper) coupe version, the 718 Cayman.
But drop the top down on a sunny day, hit the gas pedal, and try not to love the 718 Boxster. Sports cars are about the pleasure of the drive, about how they make you feel, and in the Boxster, Porsche has another winner.