So I drove the 718 and 981 boxsters today.
It was a revelation.
Bit of back story so you know where I'm coming from. I've owned 3 911s from the 80s and currently have a gently modded 3.2 targa. I was an instructor with the POC in SoCal and have driven many 911s. The only boxster I've driven was the original 2.5 on Willow Springs and in and around LA. It was a brilliant car. 201hp
So today I headed to the Porsche Winnipeg dealership and arranged to drive the graphite blue PDK base boxster and then drive the 2016 Black Edition PDK base flat 6 boxster.
I drove the 718 first so I'll start there. The blue is divine. Black interior with sport seats - 14way -- all good. Standard boxster type switchgear inside -- everything is ergonomically excellent and falls readily to hand. I like my seat as low as possible and fairly upright with a high steering wheel.
And then I start the engine.
To my ears the 2.0 Turbo sounds great. Not exceptional but quite lovely and very metallic and tough on acceleration. Top down was best for even more gurgle.
I pull away and the salesman suggests that if I have time we can go for awhile.
I did not like the Drive feature -- having never driven PDK I was initially unimpressed. It switched gears too often and even in sport mode didn't seem to hold gears the way I'd like -- so I went to full paddle mode and started to play.
On one hand the car is perfect. It's, by any real standard, beyond reproach. Lovely power available early and handling unrivalled by anything I've driven. I've not driven a more recent hydraulic steered boxster but this electric steering felt fabulous to me.
On the other hand I kept wishing it was manual and thinking I'd never want a PDK car after having been so excited to try one. In other words it was decidedly imperfect but I didn't know why
Then the revelation came.
It came in the form of the Black Edition 6 cyl. 2.7 base model. I finally understood why the automotive world is in mourning over the loss of two measly cylinders.
Within 2 minutes of driving the NA car I thought about all the ways to sell my mint condition, appreciating asset 1985 3.2 911 and get this car -- NOW. Because the urgency with which I wanted to buy this car was only matched by the urgency of the engine above 4k rpm. The very urgency that was entirely lacking in the technically faster 718. In fact - the reason I like my old 3.2 so much is that it FEELS fast. The sounds, the throttle response and the rush above a certain earned rpm range is REWARDING, just like this 981
I realized why these newer boxsters are SO hallowed.
Somehow in a PDK 2016 boxster with all its available nanny tech, I felt a spiritual lineage to the older 911s I've owned. That lineage lives in the steering feel and the THROTTLE RESPONSE. Above 4200 I could get a kick in the back at will and a howl from the engine by using my big toe - I had on sandals so my toe got real active - sorry next owner but my feet were clean -- I swear!!. With that type of immediate and nuanced throttle control the thought of setting that beautiful steering wheel and exiting apexes of track and back roads alike gives me shivers and elevates the heart rate
The 718 has a throttle response that left me cold
Flooring the car did the same -- it got fast but getting fast didn't have any ceremony or rush to it.
The 981 had me giddy. And that 2.7 wails when you get on it. It really is glorious.
I let the salesman know out of the gate I was shopping for an eventual purchase not an immediate one -- had I been shopping today I'd have probably left with that 2.7 Black Edition. It lacked no speed for my tastes and the PDK in it felt the way I imagined it could -- rifle bolt but with D mode for my lady. Coupled with my manual 31 yr old 915 tranny air cooled that would be the perfect garage for me.
And when I want a 4 banger I'll get a 912.
Sorry 718 but the only Boxster I see myself taking Factory delivery of will be a 6 cylinder GT department special that they are sure to release down the road -- I hope I have the extra $$ those will likely cost since one day I'd like to order and spec a car - just not a 4 cyl turbo. If not I'll get a used 2009 or later base or S model and while I'll shop for both I'll look especially hard for a PDK paddle car.
As a last note - the gentlemen at the Winnipeg Porsche were fantastic and helpful.