MAR 08th 2013
Porsche Boxster: Junior sports car, senior ability
911 fans… should apply
So it’s not a 911. Get over it. Drop the Boxster prejudices too, as the mid-engined roadster has long been one of the finest driving Porsches you can buy. This new model Boxster (designated 981 if you’re a Porsche numbers fan) underlines that – and some.
The push-me-pull-me looks are gone; this is now a bold-looking car, borrowing styling cues from the Carrera GT and forthcoming 918 Spyder. Successfully too. Inside, it’s now of a quality befitting a car with a starting price of nearly £38,000. Don’t get hung up on the faster 3.4-litre Boxster S either, as this 2.7-litre model has more than enough appeal to keep even the most demanding driver interested.
That flat-six engine delivers a relatively modest 265bhp (at a heady 6700rpm), though its 206lb ft of torque arrives at 4500rpm meaning it’s not all haranguing around to the red-line to make progress. It’s a flexible unit, with enough low-rev urgency to allow brisk pace even if you’re lazy with the six-speed manual. Not that you will be, as the Boxster’s core appeal lies in its 6-speed transmission. Shifting with satisfying accuracy and perfect weight and springing, if you’ve not learned the art of a heel-and-toe blipped throttle downshift already then this is the car to do it in. Not least as the 2.7-litre engine sounds fantastic.
The way it makes you feel…
Sonics aside, the new Boxster is all about feel and weighting, from the clutch, brake and accelerator pedal to that 6-speed gearbox and the steering. The wheel is electrically assisted now, which does mean it’s robbed of that final nuance of feel that characterised its predecessor’s steering, but it’s still rich on information and quick in action.
With a longer wheelbase, lower centre of gravity and a wider front track, the new Boxster is very eager to turn in, too. Add the inherent mid-engined balance and the Boxster’s poise is hugely satisfying, its ability to carry speed impressive. Greater stiffness helps; the new car is 40 percent more rigid in torsion than its predecessor, this increased rigidity achieved despite a 25 to 35kg drop in its kerb weight.
Firm yet supple suspension handles the dual responsibility of fine control and decent ride comfort, and the optional PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) system offers a Sport setting. Select that and the ride is uncompromising for all but the very smoothest of roads. PASM is a tick-box option that’s not really necessary.
Much like the other options offered, though Porsche Torque Vectoring with a mechanically locking differential does make the Boxster even more effective at doing what it does best. Which is to entertain, enormously, even at moderate speeds. Wring it out and it’ll reach 62mph from standstill in 5.8sec, though it’s not all about raw performance, rather the means by which the Boxster goes about deploying it – adeptly.
There are few cars with the sort of rounded balance of the Boxster, whether that is its poise on the road, its genuine usability or depth of ability. Those small-minded Boxster bashers really are missing a quite fantastic drive.
Top speed: 164mph
Engine: Naturally aspirated 2.7-litre, flat-six
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Wheels: 8Jx18 front, 9Jx18 rear
Tyres: 235/45 ZR18 front, 265/45 ZR18 rear
Power: 265bhp at 6700rpm
Torque: 206lb ft at 4500-6500rpm
On sale date: Now