Porsche amplifies its two-seat roadster with the gap-filling GTS

Porsche has a very clear hierarchy for its cars. Typically, there’s the base model and an S variant before the really high-performance stuff, like Turbo and GT models start arriving. In the still-new 718 Boxster’s case, though, Porsche hasn’t fully fleshed out the range. Sure, there’s the Boxster and Boxster S, but this roadster’s high-performance variant – the Spyder – is nowhere to be seen. Until it arrives, this, the 718 GTS, is the hottest member of the Boxster and Cayman family.

Boxing Day:

It may not be a Spyder, but the Boxster GTS bridges the gap between it and the S, giving customers a taste of a hotter roadster without the livability compromises inherent in Porsche’s highest performers.

The most obvious thing to focus on is the enhanced engine. This is still a 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-four, but Porsche turned up the wick, granting it 365 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque. That’s 15 more ponies and eight more torques than the Boxster S, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but is enough to trim the sprint to 60 to a mere 3.9 seconds with the optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. A comparable Boxster S – which requires the GTS’ standard Sport Chrono Package – can only do the deed in 4.0 seconds, while an S without the Sport Chrono Package takes a relatively relaxed 4.2 seconds.

The standard Sport Chrono Package is only one of the GTS’ included enhancements. Others include standard adaptive dampers – the so-called Porsche Active Suspension Management – active exhaust, and bigger brakes. But as this is a Porsche, much of the other gear is optional. Our test car was relatively (and delightfully) spartan, adding just navigation, heated seats (which are still manually adjustable as standard), a sportier version of the adaptive suspension which lowers the ride height by .39 inches, Porsche’s telematics suite, and the aforementioned PDK transmission.

That PDK is worth singling out – this is arguably the best automatic transmission on the planet. Remarkably fast even when in the most relaxed of the GTS’ four driving modes, it executes almost seamless upshifts and downshifts. Switch it over to one of the more aggressive driving modes and it becomes a willing accomplice in all manner of shenanigans. At the same time, the PDK doesn’t exhibit any of the usual dual-clutch idiosyncraices – it doesn’t roll backward on hills, and it’s very quick to engage off the line. It’s so good in every situation, we simply didn’t miss the no-cost six-speed manual.

What we did miss was that traditional Porsche sound. We’re happy to see companies embrace technologies that lower carbon emissions and return better fuel economy, but in the Boxster’s case, this environmental pursuit comes at the expense of one of the best sounds in the automotive world. It’s not that the flat-four sounds bad – in a vacuum, it sounds really neat – but that the Boxster’s old flat-six sounded so, so good.

Prices for the Boxster GTS are not dramatically higher than the $71,400 Boxster S. This car starts at $82,800, but getting just the adaptive suspension and Sport Chrono Package on the Boxster S drives that car’s price up to $76,870. That the GTS adds more power, better, more aggressive looks, bigger brakes, and an all-around more sporting attitude makes this a bargain. Our tester, meanwhile, retailed for an even $91,000 with its light load of optional gear.

For more on the 2018 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS, check out our latest episode of Why Buy.

2018 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS

Engine Turbocharged 2.5-liter H4
Output 365 Horsepower / 317 Pound-Feet
Transmission 7-Speed Dual-Clutch
Drive Type Rear-Wheel Drive
Speed 0-60 MPH 3.9 Seconds
Maximum speed 180 MPH
Weight 3,098 Pounds
Fuel Economy 20 City / 26 Highway / 22 Combined
Seating Capacity 2
Cargo Volume 5.2 / 4.4 Cubic Feet (Frunk/Trunk)
Base Price $82,800
As-Tested Price $91,000