Blissful Ignorance

I never really liked Porsche. When I was growing up, I was surrounded by them. And even if they were beautiful cars to look at, they never really gave me the fizz that a Ferrari would.

A Porsche sighting back in the day when I had no other choice but to sit at the rear of a bouncing Chrysler Voyager, never merited an order to make the driver take a detour to stalk the car. In fact, I remember sitting at the back of our car in Paseo de Roxas, when out of nowhere a brand new 911 was rapidly decelerating towards a stoplight. It’s retractable wing had just folded down as the tires screeched to a halt. It would have impressed any youngster with a serious affliction for cars - but not I.

I grew up around Porsches. In fact, one of my favorite things to ask my uncle when he’d arrive in his 928 was if he could pop those headlamps out. It was the most new wave thing in the world. I also had another uncle who loved and adored his 911 Turbos, and while I could say those cars were beautiful to look at, I couldn’t understand why they’d get one over something more exotic like a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. During this time, it wasn’t a matter of budget. It was a matter of preference, and all the more I was puzzled. How? Why?

"The moment I turned the key to fire up the engine, I couldn’t understand what the problem was all about."

They would go on to tell me that their Porsches could be used as often as they’d like. And that if they had gotten a Ferrari, they’d have scoliosis because you’d have to drive it sideways like a jeepney. So they’d have to reserve the Italian for special occasions, in which the batteries would go flat by the time the event came along.

It was a circle of many arguments. In typical senior fashion, they uttered the words, “When you’re older, you’ll understand.” - a statement that I made my life’s mission to debunk. Unfortunately, I’ve come short at 28 years old. After having been given the chance to drive a variety of exotic cars, I cannot disagree with their premise at all. 

Take Porsche’s 718 Boxster for instance. I never liked the Boxster. To me, a Porsche is a 911, no more, no less. The Macan, Cayenne, and Panamera are totally different cars. The Boxster is much closer to the essence of the 911. I always thought that the Boxster was made for two kinds of people. A poseur, who buys into the badge and not the car, and the other - a person who can’t afford a proper Porsche. To make matters worse, it took three generations of the Boxster before I landed some time behind the wheel.

By the time I was handed the keys to the Boxster, it had already been renamed into a 718 and it had dropped two cylinders less and was now bolted with forced induction sorcery. Based on my research, those who happen to love the Boxster, which is a population that I didn’t know existed, had already lambasted the 718. I even have a friend who said that the 718 is by all means a great a sports car, but not a great Porsche. Ouch! As for me, I went in blindly, only carrying the stigma that I was driving a hair dresser’s car.

You may get lost, but not in the crowd.

Based on my research, the biggest gripe these purists have with it is the noise that it makes. Let’s call a spade, a spade here. It is impossible for a four banger to ever sound like a delicious flat-6. However, the moment I turned the key to fire up the engine, I couldn’t understand what the problem was all about. It has such a beefy exhaust note.

I thought it sounded so deliciously soulful in a way that most engines today, do not. It has such a unique and impatient sound on idle, that it makes you just want to tickle the throttle, which I did. It is lovely. It has all of the pops and bangs and that’s without the optional sport exhaust button. You know, the one that makes noise like it’s New Year’s Eve. 

"Come in hot, turn in gently, let the rear slip slowly, ease off the throttle, and feel the car dig into the apex like a Tiger’s first bite on its helpless prey."

The interior is very much a proper Porsche. It feels more connected to the Macan than it does to a 911, and that’s probably because it has a three dial setup versus five. The fit and finish is sublime, as expected. Everything feels nice to touch and the buttons are anything but fragile. The retractable roof goes down at the tug of a button. The seats are wonderfully supportive, considering that they aren’t even the optional sport seats.

The seating position is perfect and it gives me a wonderful view of those flirty wheel arches and the big analog rev counter is at the center, just where it should be. The car is equipped with Porsche’s new PCM infotainment screen with a variety of new options like performance lap times and what not. Truthfully, I barely fiddled with it. With an impatient engine note that kept tapping me on the shoulder to get going, you wouldn’t have either.

"The engine is a sweet, sweet thing. It has received a lot of flack from the purists, but you know what, I don’t care - and you wouldn’t too."

The moment I rolled off, I immediately noticed how much sharper the steering is compared to the likes of a Porsche Macan. It’s not the best apples to apples comparison, but the Macan is a sharp tool when you transfer from something like a Mercedes-Benz or an Audi. It’s got the same beautiful steering wheel, except in the Boxster, it’s much better weighted with significantly clearer lines of communication.

It is so delicately precise, and it only requires the slightest input from the driver. The ride is surprisingly supple as well. I was expecting my teeth to fall out, but never threatened to do that. It is stiff, but it is never harsh. Along EDSA, where most sports cars give you a feel like you’re driving over boulders, the Boxster happily soldiered on with very little fuss. It’s quite an amazing achievement. 

The race is long.

The engine is a sweet, sweet thing. It has received a lot of flack from the purists, but you know what, I don’t care - and you wouldn’t too. It pulls so hard, yet so smooth, you wouldn’t expect it had a four banger underneath. When you drop the top, the experience is visceral. It sounds glorious to my ears and the PDK transmission is the best in the business. Before your hands even come off the paddle, another gear has already been engaged. 

Throwing the Boxster through corners where most cars would start slipping is a driver’s delight. Come in hot, turn in gently, feel the back slip slowly, ease off the throttle, and feel the car dig into the apex like a Tiger’s first bite on its helpless prey. It is a fantastic car to drive in almost any occasion. Even the noise insulation from the soft top is wonderful. How do they even do that?

"Passing on a Porsche is like passing on an iPhone. There may be something more cutting-edge at the moment, but it’s not Apple." 

I’ve already mentioned that I never liked Porsche while I was growing up. They don’t have the presence that the Italians do, and they still don’t. What they have is a magical and charming appeal to that goes beyond being able to use them daily. From the military grade fit and finish to it’s surgeon-like precision in its driving dynamics, it is tactile and invincible.

There are many, many more exotic cars that are far more stunning to look at and perhaps make more orgasmic noises, but when you are talking about a purchase that involves one’s hard-earned money, passing on a Porsche is like passing on an iPhone. There may be something more cutting-edge at the moment, but it’s not Apple. 

Two child seats, upfront.

The 718 Boxster is an eye-opener. Although the world is littered with Porsche SUVs, crossovers, and four-door shooting brakes, their very core essence is in their sports cars. No other model expresses its sporting roots better than the base 718 Boxster, because just when you think it’s bound to be a mediocre Porsche for those who want to pose and buy into the badge, nothing could be further from the truth.

It is quick, precise, angry, and lovely all at the same time. As a base, dare I say, almost taxi spec model, the 718 Boxster stirred my heart and soul more than anything I had driven lately - and that includes a supercar-eating Nissan GT-R. I could have continued driving forever but my wallet couldn't sustain picking up the fuel tab. One day though. One day. Now, can you imagine what a 911 Turbo S feels like?

The priceless, reasonably priced.

2017 Porsche 718 Boxster

Engine: 1,988 cc, DOHC 16V, Flat-4, Turbocharged
Fuel: Gasoline
Power: 300 bhp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 380 Nm @ 1,950-4,500 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed Dual Clutch (PDK), RWD
0-100 km/h: 4.7 seconds
Top Speed: 275 km/h
Fuel Economy: 6.3 km/L Overall
Price: PHP5,750,000
+: Engine, PDK, handling, steering, roofless mechanism
-: As a base model Boxster, I have nothing to say
Verdict: A truly captivating and bewitching experience. The essence of Porsche is alive in its most basic sports car
Rating: 10/10

Ex-Automotive Executive

Instagram: @enzoteodoro