Fortunately, Porsche rarely does monumentally stupid things. (Hey, you! In the back row! Quit muttering about the regular Boxster’s turbocharged flat-four.) The six-cylinder 2021 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 is every bit as beguiling as its coupe cousin. It’s just you have to pay more for less; no roof means a higher sticker price. And that’s where things get tricky.
Porsche Cars North America has yet to announce official pricing for the Boxster GTS. But our best guess math—based on the fact that the previous Boxster GTS cost about $12,100 more than a Boxster S and factoring in a premium for the 4.0-liter engine—suggests it will sticker for about $90,000. And here’s the tricky bit: For just over $6,000 more, or a couple Franklins in every month’s lease payment, gets you a Porsche 718 Spyder, the purest, the sharpest, the most engaging—dammit, the finest—open-top sports car in the world for under $100,000.
The 718 Spyder is powered by the same 414-hp version of the 4.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-six as the Cayman GT4. The suspension hardware is identical, from the GT-specific lightweight struts and springs to the ultra-stiff ball joints and 1.18-inch-lower ride height. Identical, too, are the standard 15-inch steel brakes and 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 245/35 ZR20 and 295/30 ZR20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires front and rear, along with the mechanical limited-slip differential and standard torque-vectoring by brake. All that for an extra six grand? You would, wouldn’t you?
What the Boxster GTS 4.0 has in its favor over the Spyder is availability. The 718 Spyder, like the $100,000 Cayman GT4, is not built in high volume, so supplies are limited. The Boxster GTS 4.0 is not production-constrained and will be readily available from your friendly local Porsche dealer. It’s the next best thing to a 718 Spyder, and there’s nothing wrong with that: The Boxster GTS is the second-finest open-top sports car in the world for under $100,000.
The Boxster GTS shares its 4.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-six—essentially a bored and stroked the 992-series 3.0-liter engine minus the turbos—with the Cayman GTS, along with standard goodies such as the six-speed manual transmission, the Sport Chrono package, and the PASM sport suspension that drops the ride height 20mm. It also gets the same GTS-specific cosmetic changes, such as the 20-inch satin-black wheels, revised front and rear fascias, sideskirts, black tailpipes, and single-slat side intakes, plus Alcantara-wrapped interior hardware.
With the same power, same transmission, and near identical weight (it’s 9 pounds lighter than the Cayman GTS, according to Porsche), it’s no surprise the Boxster GTS posts identical performance figures to the coupe. The 0-60 sprint takes 4.3 seconds, according to Porsche, with the quarter mile done and dusted in 12.5 seconds. Top speed is 182 mph.
The Boxster GTS a thus mere 0.1 second slower to 60 than the 718 Spyder and only 5 mph slower overall, though the 27-pound-lighter Spyder, with its 20 more horses and more track-focused suspension, is indisputably quicker point to point when you throw some corners into the equation. Six grand quicker? Unless you’re planning on spending every other weekend at the track, probably not.
You see, on real-world roads, the Boxster GTS is no slouch through the twisties, either. As in the Cayman GTS, the 394-hp, 309-lb-ft flat-six provides a classic Porsche non-turbo engine experience, its peak power and torque arriving at the upper end of a linear surge rather than as a giant lump of thrust in the midrange.
And the PASM sport suspension, which, in addition to a lower ride height, has stiffer springs and shocks, thicker stabilizer bars, and more aggressive camber settings front and rear, delivers more grip and precision than the standard PASM setup, especially midcorner.
The Boxster GTS feels light and agile, yet it’s intimately connected to the road. With the roof down you get that iconic baritone bellow from the mid-mounted flat-six in glorious surround sound. The PASM sport suspension keeps the chassis nicely tied down, but not at the expense of everyday ride comfort. It’s taut but not harsh. Impacts and tire noise well suppressed, even at low speeds. Body rigidity is outstanding; the Boxster GTS feels as if hewn from a steel billet.
The 718 Spyder might be the outstanding choice in the segment, but the Boxster GTS makes a convincing case for itself as a slightly more comfortable, more effortlessly approachable open-top sports car you can use 24/7. Like all great Porsches, its ability to turn every drive into an experience, be it mooching downtown for a morning coffee or pinballing from apex to apex on your favorite mountain road, will have you smiling with anticipation every time you reach for the keys.
|2021 PORSCHE 718 BOXSTER GTS 4.0|
|BASE PRICE||$87,000-$90,000 (est)|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Mid-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door convertible|
|ENGINE||4.0L/394-hp/309-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve flat-6|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,200 lb (mfr)|
|LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT||173.4 x 70.9 x 49.7 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.3 sec (mfr est)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||Not yet rated d|
|ON SALE IN U.S.||Fall 2020|