Road Test of the Year 2016: Porsche 718 Boxster S Review

Punching my foot to the floor to get away from the gravel car park, the 718 Boxster S surges from the rear and lands on the tarmac rather more quickly than I'd expected it to. With my stomach now in my mouth and my eyes wide open, it's fair to say the 718's subtle looks had lulled me into a false sense of security.

In the fresh chill of the Welsh morning air, a jaunt across the moors in a sporty convertible is just what the doctor ordered to blow away any proverbial cobwebs. A flick of the switch above my head and the roof is down, hit the heater button until a small fire is blazing from the vents, hands on the wheel and we're ready to go.

The Boxster's got an old-school feel with a blood-red leather interior, metal dials and chunky switches. Everything is simple, well placed, methodical – and this Porsche is prepared to deceive me.

Strip the freshly named 718 Boxster to its bare bones and the biggest talking point is that new engine. Behind my head is a 2.5-litre, 345bhp four-cylinder boxer engine that wants to be heard. Whether that's a good thing or not is down to your personal preference on noise – because gone are the six cylinders of old and in their place is a lumpy, bumpy, four-pot hum. The power available is stunning, though, and feels perfectly adequate for a spine-tingling rush across the countryside.

That engine's got a turbo, too – which is something else that's got the purists riled up. They needn't have got their knickers in a twist, though – we can happily report the 718 Boxster is just as exciting as it ever has been and you'll hardly notice the forced induction assistance.

Porsche Boxster

Porsche Boxster

On roads such as these, it grips like brilliant entry-level Porsches always have done, and on a lap of the Welsh moors it's intoxicating. Yes, that noise does take some getting used to, but once you've tuned into its groove, got the measure of its weighty yet precise steering and the feel of its rear-wheel-drive biased grip, it's a delight. On winding bends it's as if it's making a concerted effort to will you on, goad you into pushing harder, to enjoy yourself that little bit more. The 718 Boxster is a driver's car, pure and simple. It feels rigid, strong and delightfully well finished – there's no doubt that this was engineered anywhere other than in Germany – but there's also a lightness to the controls and a deftness to its ability in the bends.

Maybe that's why Porsche has kept the feel of this car so traditional and simple. The manufacturer hasn't packed it with technology or over-complicated readings on the dash. There's no need for any impressive graphics either when you can drive it like this, far more focused on the road ahead than on meaningless figures.

It's a shame that human ability slows you down in this case, thanks to the complexity of changing gear manually. Drivers traditionally love a manual gearbox, but Porsche has spoilt us with its brilliant PDK paddles – and we can't help but long for that set-up in this. Manuals have their place, but when automatic cog-swapping is done so well – and in most cases better than any human ever could – who are we to argue with progress? If you're ordering your 718, we'd strongly recommend shelling out for the PDK.

After many miles on all types of roads, the 718 Boxster truly gets under your skin. Yes, it may be different to those that have gone before it, but this is a new dawn – there's a new name, new look and new fun to be had. Driving one won't leave you wanting more, it won't make you feel like a racing driver, but it sure will guarantee you an experience that you'll never forget.

Porsche 718 Boxster S

Price: £61,466
Engine: 2.5-litre turbocharged
Power: 345bhp, 420Nm
0-60mph: 4.4 seconds
Top speed: 177mph (limited)
Economy: 34.9mpg combined
Emissions: 184g/km

Review written by Rebecca Chaplin