What Is It?
If we were to create the perfect sports car, it would be a two-seater with an open top, excellent handling, sexy styling and enough power to enjoy — but not so much to be intimidating. Or we could simply buy a Porsche 718 Boxster GTS 4.0. Easily one of the most enjoyable sports cars on the road, the 2021 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS has quickly moved up our list of Cars We Wish We Owned. It may not be perfect, but it’s pretty close.
Porsche recently provided a 2021 718 Boxster GTS painted in Carmine Red. The Boxster comes well equipped; however, Porsche offers a vast range of options — many of which adorned our test vehicle, including Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes, full bucket seats, a GTS interior package, GPS navigation, a high-gloss rear wing, leather and Race-Tex interior trim, and 20-inch Carrera Sport wheels for a total MSRP of $122,950. Although adding $32,000 of options is certainly possible, we feel obligated to point out that most buyers purchase less additional features for an MSRP that typically comes to around $100,000.
The 718 Boxster has classic Porsche looks with perfect roadster proportions. The GTS stands out from the “common” 718 with dark-tinted headlights, a unique front fascia, deeper side air intakes and the PASM sport chassis that lowers the car by 20 millimeters. Sport wheels in black are standard equipment; however, our test vehicle had the upgraded 20-inch Carrera Sport wheels.
At the rear, the GTS can be identified by a unique lower fascia framing a sport exhaust with dual pipes, dark-tinted taillights and the model designation in black. A deployable rear spoiler in black completes the sporty styling.
A 4.0-liter naturally aspirated flat 6-cylinder engine generating 394 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque powers the 2021 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS 4.0. Many high-performance sports cars have moved to automatic transmissions, so it’s great that Porsche delivers the Boxster GTS with a traditional 6-speed manual gearbox.
Although acceleration and top speed are important measures of a sports car, they certainly don’t tell the whole story. That said, the 718 Boxster GTS is plenty quick — the roadster has the potential to reach 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, and with enough road or track it can achieve 182 mph. Granted these figures are not much quicker than the turbocharged Boxster S, but the normally aspirated flat 6 of the 718 Boxster GTS delivers power in a smoother and more linear fashion.
Inside, the 718 Boxster GTS is awash in Alcantara, carbon fiber and leather trim, giving the sports car a premium vibe. The thick GT Sport steering wheel provides a comfortable feeling and, like the rest of the car, it isn’t overly complicated. Two sets of controls are positioned at the driver’s thumbs, with an innovative dial/button for interfacing with the driver display. A dial at the lower right allows for quick switches between driving modes.
Full Bucket Seats
Our tester Boxster included optional full bucket seats that retail for $5,900 — a significant cash outlay, but the combination of Alcantara and leather looks great. The lightweight seats feature a carbon fiber reinforced plastic shell with a carbon weave finish; even the base has a beautiful design. The red stitching, GTS logos and seat belts complement the red exterior. The 2021 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS seats are certainly not “cushy,” but they conform perfectly against the spine and feature bolsters along the thighs, sides and shoulders to provide excellent comfort and support during enthusiastic driving.
Perhaps the weakest feature in the 718, the cupholders get hidden behind a carbon fiber panel in front of the passenger. Two cupholders pop out when released; although we’re sure they work fine given their German engineering, they look somewhat flimsy so we have concerns about using them with any regularity.
The Boxster’s interior doesn’t feel cramped in any way, but it simply does not possess much storage space. Luckily this mid-engine roadster has two trunks with decent space. The front trunk — or frunk, as we like to call it — has enough room for one or two small pieces of luggage, and the rear trunk could contain another soft-sided bag, making the 718 Boxster a perfect weekend getaway mobile.
On the Road
A few minutes behind the wheel of the 718 Boxster GTS confirms the sheer joy of driving this pure sports car. The Boxster’s short-throw manual shifter is positioned perfectly for quick rows through the gears. Downshifts are accompanied by an automatic blip of the throttle so engine revs match with the lower gear being engaged, making any driver feel like a professional.
Plenty of Power
The standard Boxster’s turbocharged 4-cylinder engine has plenty of brio, although we really prefer the non-turbo flat six of the GTS. The car’s strong acceleration has linear, predictable power delivery accompanied by a glorious soundtrack from twin exhaust pipes that increases intensity at 4000 rpm. Shifting through gears while an intoxicating roar enters the cabin as the speedometer approaches triple digits creates an unforgettable driving experience.
Too Much Fun
With high-performance tires and Porsche Active Suspension Management, this Boxster is built to carve and consume winding roads. Steering is ultra-precise with excellent feedback — pushing the Boxster through fast corners is simply too much fun. Even rough pavement on a curvy road doesn’t seem to upset the car’s excellent balance. The 718 Boxster GTS would be great on a racetrack, although spending a day in this car on back roads feels like home.
Dropping the Boxster’s top takes only a few seconds. Simply press and hold the button in the center console and all latches activate automatically; the top stows neatly behind the cabin. With a built-in screen between the two seatbacks and the windows up, the air stays fairly calm inside the cabin, even at highway speeds. And a wide-open Boxster with a wide-open throttle is better than any music one might find on the radio.
Generally speaking, sports cars that handle as well as the 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 tend to be stiff, although this car is a pleasant exception. Whether being pushed through tight corners or cruising through town, the 718’s ride is comfortable, poised and compliant.
As mentioned previously, the Boxster we drove came with Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes, which are lighter for improved performance — especially after prolonged use. Stopping power in the 2021 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS is strong and predictable; however, the ceramic brakes are a $7,410 option and for most drivers the difference would be imperceptible. Also the PCCBs on this car had a tendency to squeak, which was a bit annoying when rolling to a stop.
There is no such thing as a perfect sports car, although the 2021 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS comes extremely close. The 718 offers plenty of power, excellent road manners and ultimately great fun behind the wheel. Add classic roadster styling, an interior that is both attractive and purposeful, an open top and wonderful exhaust note, and the 718 Boxster GTS is hard for any driving enthusiast to resist.
The unmistakable visage of a Porsche.
Nearly perfect mid-engine roadster proportions.
Top can be raised or lowered at speeds up to 30 mph.
The 2021 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS looks great with the top up.
GTS stands out thanks to larger air intakes.
Optional 20-inch Carrera Sport wheels.
The rear spoiler extends at high speeds.
The trunk of the 2021 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS offers a reasonable amount of space.
Intricate seat structure.
Rear screen keeps cabin air turbulence to a minimum.
A proper 6-speed manual gearbox.
Convertible top and other vehicle controls reside in the center console.
Classic Porsche Ignition Placement
The ignition switch of the 718 Boxster GTS sits to the left of the steering wheel for those who want to perform flawless Le Mans starts.
This red tachometer stands out in the 718 Boxster GTS gauge cluster.