The 2020 Porsche 718 may be the entry into the vaunted German automaker’s lineup, but don’t let its (relatively) accessible price point dissuade you from taking one home. This lineup of sports cars delivers astounding handling and performance thanks in part to what makes the 718 so different from the 911: engine placement.
The Porsche 718 Boxster—that’s the convertible version—and 718 Cayman—that’s the hardtop —come in a dizzying array of trims, powertrains, and combinations. Overall, they’re good for 7.2 out of 10 on our scale, with impressive performance that easily overpowers, literally, any shortcomings in utility. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
This year, a new T trim level for both 718s revives a long-dormant letter in Porsche’s history to denote less weight, more performance features, and more money. At the opposite end and priced in the six-figure range, the new Cayman GT4 delivers 414 horsepower while the focused Boxster Spyder has dashing good looks plus the same turbo-6 engine. The 718 GTS sits out this year as it is largely replaced by the new 718 T.
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All but the 718 GT4 and Spyder make use of turbo-4 performance to deliver anywhere from 300 to 350 horsepower to the rear wheels via 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual clutch automatic gearboxes. Most versions zip to 60 mph inside of five seconds. Banish any lingering thoughts about the Porsche 914.
This year’s new GT4 and Spyder double the displacement and pop in two more cylinders. Their 4.0-liter flat-6 is cribbed from the 911 and is rated at 414 horsepower, because more is almost always better. Admittedly, we haven’t driven these 6-cylinder 718s yet, but we look forward to the experience.
Handling-wise, the 718s are Porsche—not to mention physics—at its absolute best. That turbo-4 is tucked right behind the passenger compartment with the transaxle glued down low, factors that help lower and centralize the car’s mass in ways the iconic 911 can only dream about.
Where the 911 has the edge is in practicality, as if that matters. The 718s seat two passengers, and any cargo bigger than a Manila folder will need to find its way into either of the small trunks located fore and aft. Surprisingly, the 718 is fairly fuel-efficient—it doesn’t weigh much, after all. It hasn’t been crash-tested, but it’s remarkably light on advanced safety features in standard form.