A big thank you to Porsche of Wallingford for letting me take this 2021 718 Porsche Boxster T for a drive!
If you're not into cars, you probably associate Porsche with money or status. But if you're an enthusiast, you know that they don't make fancy-pants A to B cars or sports cars that are all flash and no bang. They make cars that beg to be driven. Time to see if this one lives up to the badge.
The Porsche Boxster T sits somewhere between the base level Boxster and the Boxster S. It shares a 2.0L turbocharged flat-four engine with the base Boxster, but it comes lowered, on 20" wheels (instead of the standard 18s), with fabric door pulls in place of handles. In countries where backup cameras aren't required, it also comes without an infotainment system (don't worry, you can add it back in for a whopping $0). As if that weren't enough, the T also gives you PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management), PSM (Porsche Stability Management), PTV (Porsche Torque Vectoring), and a few other Porsche acronyms that translate to balance, stability, a very smooth ride, excellent handling, and a very fun time.
The Boxster T comes at a base price of about $71k, but this one has a few boxes checked off, pushing the price up to $80k. And if you happen to be looking for a fun convertible in this price range, you absolutely have to check one of these out.
From the front-end facia to the functional side-vents - pulling air into the mid-mounted engine - to the rounded rear-end, there is no doubt that this is a Porsche product. It's sleek and sporty looking, and it almost looks a bit subdued in this GT silver metallic and black. Almost. But it is certainly still screaming to be driven.
Climbing down into the driver's seat, I am immediately in my happy place. The cloth seats are very comfortable. They're cushy, but supportive, and the bolsters are hugging me perfectly.
Looking around the cabin, it seems that almost every surface has some kind of button or feature. The door even has a hidden pocket in it, that pops open for a pair of sunglasses. The dark colors keep it from feeling too busy, but there is certainly a lot going on. In typical Porsche fashion, there are quite a few physical buttons underneath the infotainment system, up to the gearbox, and continuing again on the other side.
The steering wheel has a few more buttons and knobs on it for controlling the infotainment system, the digital portion of the gauge cluster, and for adjusting the driving modes. And behind the steering wheel are three large gauges, with the center being the largest and housing the analog tachometer (love it) with a digital speedometer underneath it, the left being the analog speedometer, and the right is currently set to temperature monitoring.
Feeling around the cabin, everything I touch feels like quality.
Release electronic parking brake - I'd prefer a real hand-brake, but not a deal-breaker. Clutch down, brake down, turn...fake key(?) to start. Porsche likes to put their ignition keys on the left-hand side of the steering wheel, and just because this car has keyless start, it doesn't mean they can't mount a permanent fake key. While it's a bit strange, I do appreciate a key-turn to start, and this way I can keep the real key in my pocket. I'll take it.
Let's get to the driving. Foot down on the clutch, the pedal is on the heavy side. As. It. Should. Be. The leather-wrapped shift-knob is solid but soft and very comfortable to hold onto. The gearbox is nice and tight, and shifting into first feels excellent.
Getting moving, even the gas pedal is on the heavy side. Love it. Out onto the street, it almost feels like the car is holding itself back. A quick turn of a knob on the steering wheel puts me into sport mode, the throttle response opens up, and I am once again in my happy place.
Now, some people like to say that 300-hp isn't enough, but I will say that it is way more than enough for street driving. The 718 Boxster T can get up to speed very quickly with no trouble at all, whether you decide to shift through all the gears or not. It feels great to let it rev out in third and skip a few gears, but I also don't mind rowing through every gear one bit. If somehow it just doesn't do it for you, there's always the S trim with the 2.5L flat-four, producing 350-hp, the GTS trim with the 4.0L naturally aspirated flat-six, which gives you a solid 396-hp, or the 718 Boxster Spyder with the 4.0L naturally aspirated flat-six and 414-hp.
So speed and acceleration aren't an issue. Let's try some curvy back roads. As it turns out, Porsche knows what great handling is supposed to feel like. There's no missing a turn in this car, as it will take the tightest of turns on the shortest of notice with absolute ease. Mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, and perfect balance make for plenty of confidence and a ton of fun in the curves. The Sport and Sport+ modes also add auto rev-matching for downshifts, so there's no need to heel-toe your way through those tight turns. If you prefer to match revs on your own though, I couldn't find a way to disable the feature, unfortunately.
Cruising down the highway on the way back to the dealership, I find merging is a bit scarier than I'd like. With the top up, the visibility to the rear is not so good. The gap between the headrests is fairly small, and the blind spot is blocked by a pretty large pillar. Luckily, I've got lane change assist, along with front and rear sensors, but it does still cause a bit of concern. I could, however, turn on the heated seats, crank the heat, and take the top down for some better visibility, even on this freezing cold New England day, as the body design makes for a little bubble of protection from the wind and cold air as long as I keep the car moving.
One thing that's harshing my buzz just a little bit here in this bubble of happiness is the fairly loud cabin. While cruising down the highway in sport mode, it can get pretty noisy inside. Even the Bose surround sound system is having some trouble breaking through. Let's be honest though, no one's buying a mid-engine convertible for a quiet ride. And the driving is engaging enough that most of the time I don't even notice the noise.
If you're looking for a fun ride, an engaging driving experience, and excellent handling, this has to be a contender. If you want a car that's extremely comfortable, and has a very smooth ride for daily or weekend use, and maybe you like to take the top down occasionally, this has to be a contender. Porsche makes driver's cars, and this is absolutely a driver's car. Not into convertibles? Lucky for you, Porsche also makes a 718 Cayman.