In effect this is a basic 2.0-litre 718 Boxster fitted with a number of dynamic options to produce a more driver-focused model, that sits somewhere just below the larger-engined Boxster S.
Much like last year’s 911 Carrera T, Porsche has applied the same pared-back ethos to the 718 range, picking some of the tastiest chassis options and applying them to the most basic model. So what do you get over the standard Boxster? Most importantly, the T gets the full PASM sport chassis – which drops ride height by 20mm – as well as the Sport Chrono package, Porsche’s torque vectoring differential, sports exhaust and active drivetrain mounts. Dark grey 20-inch Carrera S wheels are also standard, with matching mirror caps and ‘Boxster 718 T’ logos and stripes along the sides.
Fabric door releases, as used on a few previous special Porsche variants, appear inside, and the T gets Sport-Tex fabric-trimmed sports seats. To add a touch of vibrancy, there are optional colour packs to bring in contrasting stitching to any leather stitching, accents on seats and coloured seat belts to match for no extra cost.
Although the standard leather sports steering wheel is almost perfect in size and shape, the optional Alcantara wheel and gear knob in our test car (£531.00) made it feel considerably more special. Porsche’s PCM infotainment system has also been removed in the name of weight saving, replaced by a useful storage cubby in the centre console. Reinstating the system is a no-cost option, something most sensible buyers are likely to do.
In reality, the T offers around £8,500 worth of additional equipment for a premium of £7,000 over the basic model, however not all of those options – the 20mm-lower suspension for one – can be specified on a standard Boxster, justifying the T’s place as a standalone model in the range. The manual transmission is expected to be a popular choice, but the T is of course offered with the dual-clutch PDK gearbox for an additional £2,303.
On the road, the chassis changes are immediately apparent. Dropping the body by 20mm means the Boxster T feels even more purposeful from the outset. It’s noticeably firmer at low speed, although not to the point of being uncomfortable, but as the pace rises the quality of the damping shines through. It shrugs off larger compressions the and lumps, and it feels controlled and inspiring huge confidence. The overall balance of of the Boxster remains as excellent as the base car, but it turns-in with more precision and exits corners with more vigour thanks to that mechanical torque-vectoring differential.
A rotary dial on the steering wheel is used to flick through the four driving modes, starting with Normal mode, moving through progressively more aggressive Sport and Sport Plus modes to Individual, which is fully configurable. Sport Plus is the most entertaining, activating the Sports exhaust, PASM, active drivetrain mounts and (when PDK-equipped) puts the transmission in its most responsive setting. The dampers firm up considerably which is just about right on the smoothest of roads, but it’s far more settled and just about perfect in the softer of the two settings.
One of the few things to remain unchanged from the standard 718 Boxster is its 296bhp 2.0-litre flat-four engine. Although the 718 Boxster took a look of criticism following its switch from six to four cylinders, the smaller 2.0-litre engine has never been shy of performance.
It’s a real shame that it your first impressions of the engine are its rough and harsh soundtrack, as the flat four does have an interesting character when you really start to work it hard. It takes some time for the turbos to wake up if you find yourself below 2500rpm, but once on boost it absolutely flies. Maximum torque is delivered from 2000-4500rpm, and with the manual transmission you find yourself riding that torque and shifting up fairly early. This works well with the long gearing, but if you’re feeling playful, hold onto the gears and it will happily rev right around to 7500rpm.
We also sampled the 718 Cayman T, and while the extra rigidity of the coupe is perceptible, dynamically there is virtually nothing to separate the two, although interestingly, some of the flat-four’s less pleasant aural characteristics are actually more prominent in the Cayman. Other than the fact the Cayman T is around £2000 cheaper than the equivalent Boxster, it really comes down to whether you want the roof to come down or not.
So does the 718 Boxster T stack up? It’s certainly a car for someone who is really going to make the most of that spectacularly capable chassis, because for an extra £1,800 you could upgrade to the more powerful 2.5-litre Boxster S. This might make sense if you just want the bigger engine, but for us the T has a real dynamic edge that makes it the real drivers’ choice.