2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

We get our first taste of the latest all-turbo 911s & all-new four-cylinder 718 Boxster on road & track in Abu Dhabi

By Shahzad Sheikh

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

Last month saw the regional press launch of the facelift Porsche 911 – the 991-2 if you like – now with all turbo engines as well as the all-new 718 Boxster now with flat-four cylinder engines, at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

Watch our video below for comprehensive reviews of both.

First Drive Porsche 911 (991-2)

As part of the event we were able to drive the new 911 in Carrera and Carrera S guises – the latter both with and without rear axle steer and PDCC. Click below now to watch a video explaining the difference.

Based on these drives it seems you have everything to gain and nothing to lose from the new generation Turbo engines – yes a little bit of the personality and unique character of the engine has been altered and perhaps subdued, but I’m not one that advocates that its predecessor was a great sounding thing anyway.

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In terms of performance you’ve absolutely nothing to complain about – the Carrera gets 370bhp from its biturbo 3.0 flat six and 332lb ft which is good for a 0-100kph time of 4.6 seconds in a manual (which no one here will buy), 4.4 in the PDK and just 4.2 if you opt for the Sports Plus pack. Top speed is 293kph and yet they’re quoting a fuel economy figure of just 7.4L/100km.

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

On the track the Carrera, as before, felt the more accessible, more forgiving car to drive with seemingly lighter controls and attitude. It didn’t really seem to lose much in performance either. As I’ve always said in the past, this is the best resolved 911, and still remains so. It’s the one to get, especially for 911 virgins.

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

If you must have a Carrera S, and you get 420bhp and 369lb ft of torque so I can’t blame you, then you need to go the whole way and tick all the options including the all-wheel steer and PDCC with Sports Chrono pack (costing about AED6000 extra) for quite an incredible handling machine.

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

The difference is very apparent, with the astonishingly flat attitude and incredibly stable back end through fast corners adding a massive dose of driver confidence, particularly if you intend to drive it on track a lot. (Click the second video above for a demonstration).

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

As you’d expect, performance is staggering with 0-100kph acceleration dipping below four-seconds at 3.9 for the PDK with Sports Plus, whilst PDK alone will manage 4.1 and a manual will do 4.3. Top speed is 306kph, fuel economy is 7.7L/100km.

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

Visually you can spot the new cars from the revised front treatments including the new vents and splitter and headlights. There’s new door handles, but the biggest giveaway will be at the back – those new black vertical vent slats.

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

Inside you finally get a new updated and much improved infotainment system with touch and swipe and Apple Carplay and the availability of the GT steering wheel from the 918 Spyder which is rather eye-catching and dramatic thanks to the seemingly riveted metallic-style insets.

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

Plus you get the mode pod between the right and lower spokes – obviously borrowing the idea from Ferrari’s Manettino – this gives you access to the various drives modes, including a customisable setting, and the ‘Sports Response Button’ in the middle. No this is not the ‘Turbo Boost’ button, it doesn’t actually give you more power, it simply gets snappier throttle and transmission responses for 20 seconds allowing for easier overtaking.

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

911 Verdict

Of the cars we drove, the best on road and track was quite simply the Carrera S with Rear Axle Steer and PDCC – I’d go so far as to say do not buy the Carrera S without this full Sports Chrono pack.

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

But if you’re looking to get your first 911 and your budget won’t stretch to around AED453,000 ($123k) – and that’s without extra trim options – which is what it’s likely to set you back, forget the S and go for the entry-level Carrera at about AED370k ($101k) including Sports Chrono. In fact this one has a starting price of just AED352 ($96k) for the manual, and personally I’d be very happy with just that car alone.

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

You really have to wonder where these prices leave something like a AED425k BMW M4 and the answer would be, back on the boat, as there’s really no reason to buy one when you can get a 911 for the same money!

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

 

First drive 718 Boxster

It may look like a facelift but this is actually an new Boxster (though perhaps not quite an outright four-generation edition) – now dubbed 718 for contrived reasons that attempt to link it all the way back to the 718 (itself based on the 550 Spyder) that won races in the 1950s. Those cars had flat-four cylinder engines, and now so does the new Boxster – so long to the Six then.

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

Only the windscreen and boot lid are carried over. Inside the architecture is much the same, but the vents and dashtop are new, with the centre console reconfigured to accommodate the new infotainment touch screen that it shares with the latest 911. Similar you can get the new GT wheel, and the mode pod on the wheel for driver selectable and configurable modes.

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

The regular Boxster now with a 2.0-litre flat four turboed unit puts out 300bhp and 280lb ft of torque resulting in a 0-100kph time of just 4.7 seconds. With 35% more torque than its predecessor that makes it around a second quicker. Top speed is 275kph. Similarly the Boxster S is up 17% on torque at 310lb ft with 350bhp giving it a 0-100kph time of 911-rivalling 4.2. It is flat-out at 285kph.

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

In fact the new 718 Boxster S is a whole 16 seconds faster around the Nurburgring than before and equivalent to a Cayman GT4. It’s helped by 10% more direct steering taken from the 911 Turbo and PASM sports chassis which can lower the ride height by as much as 20mm.

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

I’ve heard a lot said about the way it sounds – not all of it complimentary. Personally I loved it. It’s got more of an old-Beetle-esque burble and thrum to it, deeper at lower revs and more racier at higher rpm. I like it better than the old car, though I can understand those complaining that it’s not a typical Porsche sound.

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

As with previous Boxsters the mid-engined layout is better balanced particularly on the track, but the improved steering and more responsive chassis serve to bring back some of the intuitive feel and confidence-inspiring feedback of the original Boxster, which I felt the 2012 model had lost due to the electric steering.

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

Of course the electric steering system itself is improved, and the track can disguise a little of how the car will feel in the real world conditions on the road. We did drive the car on a road route, but it was a convoy drive around Abu Dhabi, so we didn’t really learn much about how it feels as a pure sportscar.

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

718 Boxster Verdict

Traditionally I liked the Boxster/Cayman more than the 911 as a pure driving tool. With the current generation I had flipped back round to the 911. Having driven the very latest iterations at Yas Marina, I think I’m back on the side of the Boxster again.

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

However I really need to have a longer road drive in the car to be sure about that. Having said that, it now has tremendous performance that makes you wonder why you need a 911 Carrera or even the Carrera S and the same user-friendly interior improvements that the latest 911 enjoys.

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster & 911 (991-2) first drive

It’s incredibly good at cruising (especially on a nice day with the top down) as well as the twisties and presents a more accessible and potentially entertaining driving proposition, especially at prices starting from AED248,000 ($68k).

 

2016 Porsche 911 (991-2) – The Specs

Carrera
Price:

Manual: AED352,000 ($96k)
PDK: AED364,920 ($99.5k)
Engine:
3.0-litre flat-six twin-turbo, 370bhp @ 6500rpm, 332lb ft @ 1700-5000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed manual or 7-speed PDK automatic, Rear-wheel drive
Performance:
Manual: 0-100kph 4.6secs, Top Speed 295kph, 8.3L/100km
PDK: 0-100kph 4.4secs (4.2 Sports Plus), Top Speed 293kph, 7.4L/100km
Weight: 1505kg

 

Carrera S
Price:

Manual: AED414,100 ($113k)
PDK: AED427,020 ($116)
Sports Plus adds AED20k ($5.5k), Sports Chrono adds AED6k ($1500)
Engine:
3.0-litre flat-six twin-turbo, 420bhp @ 6500rpm, 369lb ft @ 1700-5000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed manual or 7-speed PDK automatic, Rear-wheel drive
Performance:
Manual: 0-100kph 4.3secs, Top Speed 308kph, 8.7L/100km
PDK: 0-100kph 4.1secs (3.9 Sports Plus), Top Speed 306kph, 7.7L/100km
Weight: 1515kg

 

2016 718 Boxster – The Specs

718 Boxster
Price:

Manual: AED220,800 ($60k)
PDK: AED230,610 ($63k)

Sports Chrono adds AED6k ($1500)
Engine:
2.0-litre flat-four turbo, 300bhp @ 6500rpm, 207lb ft @ 1950rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual or 7-speed PDK automatic, Rear-wheel drive
Performance:
Manual: 0-100kph 5.1secs, Top Speed 275kph, 7.4L/100km
PDK: 0-100kph 4.9secs (4.7 Sports Chrono), Top Speed 275kph, 6.9L/100km
Weight: 1410kg

 

718 Boxster S
Price:

Manual: AED248,000 ($68k)
PDK: AED257,910 ($70k)
Sports Chrono adds AED6k ($1500)
Engine:
2.0-litre flat-four turbo, 350bhp @ 6500rpm, 310lb ft @ 1900-4500rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual or 7-speed PDK automatic, Rear-wheel drive
Performance:
Manual: 0-100kph 4.6secs, Top Speed 285kph, 8.1L/100km
PDK: 0-100kph 4.4secs (4.2 Sports Chrono), Top Speed 285kph, 7.3L/100km
Weight: 1430kg

 

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