2017 Porsche 718 Boxster And Cayman First Drive Review: Don't Play It By Ear

Porsche folks don’t like change much. Wails of derision echoed across the land when the beloved 911 went from air- to water-cooled engines in the late 1990s. Other blasphemous things having Porschephiles twitching in their sleep include automatic transmissions, the switch to electric steering, and the recent loss of natural aspiration for the 911 Carrera’s flat-six as Porsche joined the march toward turbocharged, smaller displacement engines.

Yet perhaps the biggest sting has been to devotees of the mid-engine Boxster and Cayman sports cars, whose rev-hungry flat-sixes were replaced with turbocharged flat-four engines for 2017.

Oh yes, these next-generation, 718-designated cars are considerably quicker — they kick out a wallop of mid-range torque that bestows a new dimension of talent to the Boxster/Cayman siblings. And of course, a natural evolution of chassis development and modern electronic aids improve this pair’s already legendary handing. Lost was the emotional wail of the naturally aspirated flat-six, its hair-trigger throttle response, and perhaps some of the man-and-machine emotional connection that has defined this platform.

When Mr. Editor suggested we compare a brand-new 718 Boxster GTS against my personal 2001 Boxster S with its 3.2-litre flat-six, I was … uh, thrilled? Let’s look at the numbers: 365 vs 250 horsepower. Ouch. As for 317 lb.-ft. of torque vs. 225 lb.-ft.? Oh my. Lowered sports suspension, Sport Chrono Package, 20-inch wheels, PASM adaptive damping, the PDK dual-clutch transmission and brake-based torque vectoring versus … none of that? I want my mommy.

Reality check. If the current, highest-performance Boxster can’t clean the clock of a 17-year-old, first-generation one with 130,000 kilomeres on the odometer, then the world should end as we know it. The 2018 Boxster 718 GTS will lap the Nürbugring in seven minutes and 40 seconds. Mine won’t. We’re here to find a thread of purity, an intrinsic strand of DNA that for 20 years has put the Boxster pilot right at the pointy-end of the driving experience — whether balls-out on a track or just enjoying a brisk, top-down backroad blast.