First drive: 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster and 911 Carrera in the UAE

First drive: 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster and 911 Carrera in the UAE

Porsche 911 and Porsche 718 Boxster S

Porsche has finally done it. With the need to increase performance while also improving fuel economy numbers in line with upcoming worldwide legislations, Porsche has taken the turbocharged route with their new Boxster and 911 models. We got a chance to drive these two models at an event in Abu Dhabi recently.

With the new Porsche 718 Boxster, the numericals in the name refer to Porsche race cars from the 1950s which had 4-cylinder engines, just like these updated Boxsters. The new 718 gets a turbocharged 2.0-litre for the standard version, while the 718 Boxster S gets the 2.5-litre turbo motor. Porsche is still calling this a current-generation model, even though it gets a lot of new body parts along with the all-new 4-cylinder engines.

2017 Porsche 718 Boxster front

The 718 Boxster is still a good looking machine, and the changes to the exterior gives it a slightly more aggressive look now. We especially like those rear taillights with distinctive LED patterns.

As you sit inside, the first thing you notice is the larger new infotainment screen. It now supports Apple CarPlay, which is very handy as you can access Google maps through this feature. However, the system doesn’t support Android phones.

Under the hood, the 2.0-litre turbo produces 300 hp and 380 Nm of torque, while the turbocharged 2.5-litre Boxster S gets 350 hp and 420 Nm of torque. Gone is the smoothness of the 6-cylinder though, as the engine vibrates a bit during idle, but it’s nothing major to complain about. While Porshe purists may still be wary of going the turbocharged route, the numbers Porsche has released regarding performance certainly prove the carmaker’s point. With the PDK transmission and sports chrono package, the base Boxster goes from 0-100 kph in just 4.7 seconds and hits a top speed of 275 kph, while the Boxster S reaches 100 kph in 4.2 seconds and tops out at 285 kph.

A new steering system, taken from the Porsche 911 Turbo, and the optional “PASM” electronic suspension-damping system, which can change the ride height by up to 20mm, helps the handling aspect as well. Porsche even says the new Boxster S went around the Nurburgring 16 seconds faster than the previous model.

The seating position is excellent and the seats are comfortable. Driving through the city, the ride is on the harsher side. While most of the UAE’s roads are smooth, be sure to go slowly over speed bumps! But visibility is average at best when the roof is up. We put the top down for a bit and got a chance to hear the engine note in full song. The debate will continue to rage on over whether the exhaust sounds good, but it certainly sounds decent during hard acceleration. While cruising however, the 4-cylinder buzz may not be the most ear-friendly.

2017 Porsche Boxster (6)

We had a chance to drive the cars on the Yas Marina Circuit. On the track is where the car really shows its characteristics. The steering has a nice weight to it and stiffens up in Sports mode. There is decent amount of feedback and you really feel the new turbo characteristics, helped by instant response from the throttle and PDK working in tandem. The Boxster S was the one which impressed us, and you can really feel the torque of the new engine in the S, giving a nice kick when accelerating, which seemed absent in the standard model.

The new 718 Boxster is a good sports car, and with its new engines, it gets the amount of performance which we feel lacked in the previous model. These new performance numbers might make you think it treads into 911 Carrera territory. But that won’t be the case, as Porsche has upgraded the 911 Carrera and Carrera S models which we got to drive as well.

2017 Porsche 911 (2)

Looking at it, its hard not to fall in love with it. The new Porsche 911 Carrera got subtle changes such as new headlights with daytime running lights, new door handles, a redesigned rear lid and new rear lights.

The main change is what’s under the hood though. With new turbocharged engines now breathing life to the 911s, the question arises over the name, since earlier the Porsche 911 Turbo signified it had been turbocharged. Porsche however, has decided to keep the same nomenclature, with no Turbo badges on the Carrera models.

Looking at the specs, it now gets a 3.0-litre turbocharged flat-6 engine. The standard Carrera produces 370 hp and 450 Nm of torque. The Carrera S gets 420 hp and 500 Nm of torque. Porsche claims the Carrera with the “Sport Plus” package can now do 0-100 kph in 4.2 seconds, while the Carrera S with the same package does the same under 4 seconds. Even top speeds have increased slightly, the Carrera increasing by 6 kph to 295 kph, while the Carrera S tops out at 308 kph which is an increase of 4 kph.

Stepping inside, it is pretty much similar to the old setup but with new added tech. The Porsche Communication Management System (PCM) touschscreen has been upgraded and now features Apple Car Play. There is a smartphone tray included as well, which offers wireless charging, but as is the case with most wireless chargers, it was pretty slow when we tried it. The Apple Car Play worked great though, which instantly connected when wired up to the car and mirrored few select apps from the phone such as Google Maps on to the touchscreen.

On the Yas Marina racetrack, it was instantly a more satisfying drive than the 718 Boxster on track. It has mainly to do with the extra power, and the new turbo engines certainly makes it a very fast car. The low-end push when accelerating is so much more satisfying than the previous 911. Handling remains brilliant and the Carrera S takes it to another level when equipped with all-wheel-steer and the Sports Chrono Package. We had an exercise on the track to show the differences in handling with and without the all-wheel-steer system and it was obvious that we could go into turns at a higher entry speed when equipped with this feature. You can also load it up with the optional “PDCC” adaptive suspension as well, so there is less of a ride penalty off the track.

2017 Porsche 911 (1)

We had a short drive on the road as well, and the car still has the same distinct boxer-six exhaust note as the previous model, so people who preferred the old naturally-aspirated engine sound shouldn’t be disappointed. Again, this car is at its full glory on the track, so don’t expect Roll-Royce comfort in this car, but it did feel less harsh than the 718 Boxster.

The 2016 Porsche 911 Carrera remains a very desirable car. With the new engines and tech, it ups the performance and creature comforts. And a clear difference is maintained between the 718 Boxster and the 911 Carrera, so all is well in the Porsche world.

For UAE prices and GCC specs, visit the Porsche buyer guide.

Photos by Porsche Middle East.

What do you think?



  1. Are you sure you weren’t in Sport/ sports+ mode, because it stiffs up the dampers and makes the ride harsh which aids in track.
    Normal mode the ride is exceptional, and no other journalist has acknowledged the harsh ride of this car.

    • I believe it depends on what those so-called journalists compare the ride to. I’m told this drive was mostly on smooth highways, but the harshness was more obvious on speedbumps and less-perfect terrain on smaller roads.

      Remember how every journo says the McLaren 12C has a “Rolls-Royce” ride? Complete lie.

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