Already a firm favourite of the wheels team, when Porsche announced that the Boxster would be losing two cylinders and gaining a turbocharger, the groans of dismay from our Dubai office were audible in Jebel Ali. How could a four-cylinder turbo compete against the Mercedes SLC 43’s larger V6 turbo, and would either of those two-seat sporting models compare to the four-seat Range Rover Evoque convertible, which let’s be honest, is a leader
in a class of one.
If you’re in the market for a convertible capable of carrying you and your family to the beach and back in style and comfort, then the Evoque certainly ticks all the boxes, but you’ll be unable to carry those boxes with you. Other than a couple of beach towels, the Evoque’s lack of usable boot space — that fabric roof has got to be stowed somewhere — is going to seriously limit your luggage options. A small tube of sun cream, maybe?
If it’s rapid, two-seat, wind-in-your-hair motoring you’re after, Mercedes-AMG’s latest offering, the SLC 43 remains an excellent choice, for while it’s fundamentally a re-engined SLK of six years’ vintage, that’s no bad thing when the original was such a well-built car with great lines. The new engine’s enormous levels of torque (520Nm in a 1,595kg car) also make the Mercedes a delight to drive, a great roadster in every sense.
Sadly, though, for Mercedes, our hearts were won over by the other side of Stuttgart; our concerns about the Boxster’s engine were misplaced. The exhaust note may be a fraction less audacious, but Porsche has otherwise taken every element of the old 981 Boxster and, with a tweak here and a nudge there, sharpened its looks, improved its already delicious handling, and given us all more torque (380Nm) and power (300 horses) to play with. While those figures may not be the most impressive in the sector, the driving pleasure they deliver most certainly is.
Thankfully, all that effort meant their engineers were left with no time to mess with the Boxster’s superb six-speed gearbox, so we’ll not tell you again: “Buy the manual, rent a mountain and drive, drive, drive.”
The sum of those parts means that the 718 Porsche Boxster wins our Convertible of the Year award for 2017. The evidence in its favour is incontrovertible.