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Chasing Perfection: Driving the 2020 Porsche 718 Boxster T

The has all of the performance bits you actually need

LOS ANGELES—Tell traditionally minded American-car enthusiasts you like Porsches, and they might remind you how much the marque's in-car options cost, right after making the old joke about Stuttgart's most famous sports car being "just a Beetle." But guess what, old timers? Porsche has some sports-car offerings that upend the stereotype while aiming at buyers who want the brand's best features for less. And—gasp—those sports cars even have the engine in the correct place! We tested one of those offerings in the form of this GT Silver Metallic 2020 718 Boxster T, and found plenty to justify a passion for Porsches.

2020 Porsche 718 Boxster T Test: Spill the T

A couple of factors make the T variant of the 2020 718 Boxster special and worth buying, but it's basically the best of Porsche's long list of available options in one easy-to-choose package.

To start, Sport Chrono is equipped as standard, which adds the mode-change dial to the steering wheel. The Boxster T also sees its dual-clutch transmission tuned to an even sportier profile, while the Sport Response button maximizes the car's performance for a 20-second stint. Porsche also adds higher-performance transmission mounts to stabilize the gearbox, which the company claims enhances both performance and comfort. This is a Porsche option worth specifying on pretty much any of its cars, so it's great to see it included here as standard fare.

Unless you live somewhere with perfect roads as far as the eye can see, you'll appreciate the fact Porsche equips the 2020 718 Boxster T as standard with its adaptive suspension system.

In addition to lowering the car 20 millimeters compared to the Boxster's normal ride height, the suspension provides continuous real-time adjustments, as well as a comfortable but still sporty-feeling Normal mode and a stiffer Sport mode that sharpens everything up for more spritely driving. On poor road surfaces the Normal mode copes admirably and on freeway ramps and winding backroads Sport keeps the chassis controlled and poised.

It also has Porsche Torque Vectoring - or PTV - as standard, another technology that has helped Porsche cement its reputation as a builder of sports cars with world-class handling. This system uses a combination of asymmetrical braking and a mechanically regulated rear differential lock for higher cornering stability and better lateral traction. I can attest that the Boxster T navigates through the bends with uncanny levels of poise and instills tremendous amounts of confidence in the driver.

Opting for the Boxster T also comes with the benefits of standard 20-inch wheels, a throatier sport exhaust with the ability to be toggled on or off, and a manual transmission, although ours had Porsche's PDK dual-clutch transmission added for $3,730. See every 2020 car, truck, and SUV available with three pedals right here. That's good news for enthusiasts who want to row their own and don't want to spend the extra money. The inclusion of PDK shaves 0.4 seconds from the 0-60 mph time, dropping it down to just 4.5 seconds.

Delivering on Promises

All of the standard features Porsche includes with the Boxster T work in harmony to create a thrilling sports car experience. The Boxster T handled my favorite roads like a champ. There's plenty of lateral traction thanks to the Pirelli P Zero summer tires and the PASM and PTV systems. The Boxster T is eager to change direction and under spirited cornering it remains totally composed.

The steering feel is insanely precise, and the car communicates everything the road is doing beneath you in such a way that it's easy to feel like you're getting the most out of it. This interpretation of the 718 platform offers plenty of go, with 280 lb-ft of torque available from 1,950-4,500 rpm in a package that only weighs 3,120. The key is to drive the Boxster T in the lower midrange of its powerband to make sure there's maximum grunt on hand to scoot out of the corners.

Porsche equips its base brakes on the Boxster T, which provide plenty of stopping power. It also offers its ceramic composite brakes as an option for an eye-watering $7,410 but judging on how well the roadster performed with the regular brakes on our test car, this seems like it'd be overkill for the majority of buyers.

One of the other cool perks of opting for a Boxster T is the ability to specify the 718 T interior package. At $2,770, it's the second most expensive option after the dual-clutch transmission. This is the one super stereotypical Porsche thing about the car; in order to have the interior cosmetic feature that makes it most unique, one has to shell out to get the special seats. In this case, the chairs have black and Guards Red inlays that help further set it apart from more run of the mill Boxsters. The seats are very comfortable and supportive, and I was able to spend long days out behind the wheel without feeling beat up or worn out. It's worth it if you care about having a unique car, but those looking for a more budget-friendly Boxster may want to pass on it.

Practicali-T

Outside of its performance equipment, Porsche equipped our test car with some options that make it easy to live with when it's time to do the less fun stuff like commuting or grocery shopping. Porsche added the bigger 16.9-gallon extended range tank ($140), which allows the Boxster T to make the most of relatively frugal 21-city and 27-highway mpg fuel economy figures.

To help take the edge off of top-down night driving, heated seats were included for $530. When the top is up, two-zone climate control ($770) gave my fiancé and I control of our own temperatures. Apple Car Play comes as an option for $360. Auto-dimming mirrors with an integrated rain sensor ($700) were also added as was navigation plus Porsche Connect ($2,320). The GT Silver Metallic paint wasn't free either; Porsche charges $660 for the pleasure. In total, our car cost $81,820.

Other standard, ordinary stuff that made me really love the Boxster T were the two surprisingly spacious trunks, one up front and one in the rear. For being a roadster, it can hold a shocking amount of stuff. I did a big grocery run and had plenty of room to spare. Also, Porsche's pop-out cupholders, which are concealed above the glove compartment. They were able to hold on to my 16-oz cup of coffee without any trouble. I always thought these were a little silly, but despite their minimalistic and compact design, they're practical. Finally, the black convertible top retracts and redeploys very quickly, which is great when the beating sun gets to be too much.

Standard price for a Boxster T is $69,850. It isn't cheap but it's a great way to buy a Boxster with tons of features that would normally be optional as standard. It looks great, it's great to drive, and it has everything enthusiasts want from a Porsche (unless they want a flat-six engine but luckily there's the Boxster GTS 4.0 for that). When I was driving the Boxster T, however, I can't say I wanted much more. In fact, I wanted less! Delete the automatic transmission and the pricey navigation system (but keep Car Play), and this is a perfect everyday Porsche. In fact, it's so good, you'll laugh in the faces of those narrow-minded jokers.

2020 Porsche 718 Porsche Boxster T Specifications
ON SALE Now
PRICE $69,850/$81,820 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 2.O turbocharged DOHC 16-valve flat-4/300 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 280 lb-ft @ 1,950-4,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
LAYOUT 2-door, 2-passenger, mid-engine, RWD convertible
EPA MILEAGE 21/27 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 172.4 x 78.5 x 50.4 in
WHEELBASE 97.4 in
WEIGHT 3,120 lb
0-60 MPH 4.5 sec
TOP SPEED 170 mph