718 REASONS TO GET EXCITED. Flat 4 v Flat 6
On a road test of a PDK 718, Edward compares it to his GTS
I know there is just mountains of people who have complained about Porsche AG’s new direction to 4 cylinders for the 718 range, but to be honest flat 4’s are well and truly a part of Porsche history so what’s all the fuss about?
On on a cool but sunny day my local dealer (& mates) Porsche Centre Perth threw me the keys for one of the first 718 Boxsters to arrive into Australia. The only caveat was that they made me promise not to use the Launch Control, and it took a LOT of control NOT to use launch control in this factory fresh car! It was so hard I reckon there should be an “anti launch control” button in the car, in the form of a huge slap hand that comes out of the dashboard and slaps your face if you try to engage it (similar to the cup holders only with more reach). I mean come on, its got LC lets launch it! As far as I am concerned when you get in Porsche with LC, PSE, Chrono etc you turn everything on and launch it straight out of the dealers forecourt. Maybe they should install a ramp so you can exit the dealership “Dukes of Hazzard” or Feriss Bueller's Day Off” style…yeee haaa! Sorry I got carried away, those that know me understand why, I admit it, I am a mental.
Anyway in this article I'll just share my instant reactions and comparisons as I literally stepped out of my (then) Boxster GTS (also with pdk) and into a brand new 718 Boxster S.
My very first reaction when sitting in the car was that lovely steering wheel. It’s just so chunky and easy to grip. It felt small and ready for business and gave the instant feeling of purpose and character. I remember thinking the new “sports active” switch on the steering wheel (similar to Ferrari’s Manettino switch) was a bit naff. But I got used to it right away and I actually loved it after another few turns! It’s excellent and keeps your eyes on the road, and has a great precision clock like feel when using it.
After lowering the seat to match my height, the seating position was bang on perfect, although I would have liked just a little more movement from the adjustment for the wheel. The seat was typical Porsche perfect, grippy snug & very comfortable.
Now I always (and still do) love the interior of the 981 (Boxster or Cayman) GTS range. I mean what’s not to like about alcantera! But the 718 interior has just been taken up another level! I am not sure how Porsche do it but they almost always make the next model feel just that more “up to the minute”. Everything about this new 718 screams modern from the cool wider flat screen sat nav screen to the software that drives it. There is a quality and fit to this cabin that simply tells you that you are in the latest and greatest. There is almost nothing about the interior I don’t like. If I had any opinion (not a complaint) it would be that I prefer the Sports Chrono Clock where it is in the previous model, set into the dash. In the 718 it’s pushed further back which makes it harder to see and this has nothing to do with my rubbish eyesight as far as you know.
The Lines: The outside look of the car is quite frankly amazing. The new rear end is just so good. I love the Porsche wording across the back of the car and the integrated rear spoiler and LED light treatment looks so Sci-Fi cool! Again while the 981.1's rear looks mint, the 718 just moves the bar up one more notch. Moving around the car it just looks clean, fit and ready for a fight. The front looks lower, more squat and tough as nails but with a character that tells you “I am one fast puppy, move the fark over you are about to be overtaken”. And those 4 pot daytime running lights integrated in the headlights look totally metal I absolutely love them!
The Drive: Immediately I noticed the power, and notwithstanding an ever so slight turbo lag at the very start these 718 cars, either in standard or S guise, are absolute rockets. With my S equipped car I “got the boot in” momentarily while locked in 2nd gear and the car’s PSM light blinkered immediately. In 2nd gear that’s very hard to do in any mid or rear engine car given the weight over the back tyres so for the 718S to break traction in 2nd tells me that this it's very powerful & bloody fast! Porsche claim 0-100 in 4.2 for the 718S with Chrono & Launch Control. I reckon that’s very conservative and in my opinion it’s definitely a sub 4 second car in the right conditions. The 718 also feels accurate, fluid while also being well planted to the tarmac and certainly looks and drives the business on the road. The 30% faster steering claimed by Porsche is more efficient on turn in. I noticed almost zero understeer even when pressing into some tight corners. Everything feels newer, faster and fresher. It’s an absolutely brilliant effort, which is why we love Porsche cars so much!
The Noise (the important bit) : Everyone has a opinion on how the flat 4 sounds and very few have been positive. We've all heard the quips about it sounding like a Subaru STI. Well what can I say? Guess what guys its not rocket science, that is actually how a flat 4 engine sounds! That low thrum is unmistakable and I think it’s cool, in fact it's not a bad sound, it’s not “worse” than a flat 6 it’s just different. It’s like asking if you prefer a glass of fine blended Whiskey>Flat 4 or a glass of Single Malt>Flat 6? Both Whiskey’s taste great, but what you do prefer? (OK poor example, single malt kills a blend any day of the week) . If you'd never heard the scream of a flat 6 you would think the 718 sounds mental, but alas we have all heard, owned and driven flat 6's right? So therein lies the issue, Porsche peeps don't like change do we?..no we don't!
To be honest the 718 engine does sound little muted, not the exhaust but the engine. I noticed that revving out to around 7000. The symphony of flat 6 horses just isn't there. The sound reminded me of a generator, it gets louder but without any real increase in tone. Really it’s the only “blip” on an otherwise blisteringly good package. If you can get past yearning for that flat 6 scream then you will own one of the very best cars Porsche currently make. Even without PSE this 718S had brilliant pop and crackle when you take your foot off the pedal and it turned heads and makes you giggle. So with PSE it can only get better! right?
Conclusions: Climbing back into my 981.1 GTS after the 718, I noticed how thin the Steering Wheel was. In fact, it felt huge in comparison to the chunky 718 tiller. Also, unbelievably, the interior felt a bit dated and the car didn’t "morph around me" like the 718 did. Hard to believe but true, the interior of the new 718 range is that good, it's brilliant!
After the drive while handing back the keys I glanced over at my white GTS and for a split second I thought "I need a 718 Boxster S in my life" Normally these moments result in me spending an hour longer at the dealership before ending up owning a new car, but I did compose myself and left before I placed an order!
Then on my way home there was a moment, naturally with PSE and Sports button activated (I glued them to be permanently on) I caught the perfect sound of the flat 6 howl mixed with the ear bleeding mind bending GTS exhaust pop & crackle as it bounced off the buildings and I just thought, my goodness time for a Single Malt!