Few vehicles fulfill their intended mission as well as the 2021 Porsche 718 Boxster does, and that’s why it’s on both our 10 Best and Editors’ Choice lists. The same goes for its coupe brother, the 718 Cayman. This car’s mid-engine design and sport-tuned chassis help it to deliver perfectly balanced driving dynamics, and its lineup of horizontally opposed four- and six-cylinder engines provide plenty of power to accompany this roadster’s sharp handling. Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual transmission and a quick-shifting seven-speed automatic for this rear-driver. Drop the top, let the wind rush through your hair, and enjoy all the performance and driving satisfaction that Porsche can deliver for thousands of dollars less than a 911.
What’s New for 2021?
A new model joins the Boxster family in North America this year: The six-cylinder GTS 4.0 offers more power and a better soundtrack than the base car. Porsche also upped the ante with more standard equipment for 2021, including dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, auto-dimming mirrors with a rain sensor, Apple CarPlay integration, and bi-xenon headlamps.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Boxster offers three engines: a 300-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter flat-four, a 350-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-four (on the S model), and a 394-hp 4.0-liter flat-six (on the GTS 4.0). Each comes paired with a truly satisfying six-speed manual transmission, but buyers can opt for Porsche’s clairvoyant seven-speed automatic. The base and S models are great fun and performed well in our testing. We haven’t had the opportunity to put our gear on the new GTS 4.0 model, but we have high expectations that it will impress us on the track. The Boxster’s handling and steering prowess inspire deep affection. The mid-engine layout helps the Boxster feel balanced and stable through corners, while the brilliantly communicative steering reacts quickly and accurately to even small inputs. Extras such as Porsche’s adaptive dampers and an available torque-vectoring rear differential only improve this car’s handling, but even base-spec Boxsters behave precisely the way we want them to.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The base Boxster, with a turbo 2.0-liter flat-four and six-speed manual, earns 20 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA. Opting for the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic earns buyers 1 mpg more in each category. The S and GTS models fair only slightly worse. We’ve tested both a base Boxster and an S on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy route, and both models outperformed their EPA ratings, with results of 33 mpg and 28 mpg, respectively.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Boxster’s interior has a little more plastic than we’d expect in a car that costs this much, but buyers can cover the console lid, door-panel trim, and instrument-cluster top in leather for a relatively reasonable price. The Boxster’s two flimsy dash-mounted pop-out cupholders have limited utility and reveal a cultural disdain for driving with beverages—Germans don’t drink their Nachmittagskaffee while driving, after all. If you’re looking for a car that’ll hold your entire life within its cabin, look elsewhere. This two-seater is seriously lacking in room. And while neither the Boxster nor the Cayman has a truly useful storage space, each at least provides a front and rear cargo compartment. One carry-on suitcase fits in the back and two fits in the frunk.