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Porsche Boxster S review: 5.0/5

How to improve on the Porsche Boxster? Launch a new one of course...

 

Words: Graeme Lambert - @graeme_lambert

Published on: March 14, 2012

Words: Graeme Lambert - @graeme_lambert

Published on: March 14, 2012

Tech Specs

Model testedPorsche Boxster S
Engine3.4-litre flat-six petrol
Transmissionsix-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Body styletwo-door roadster
RivalsAudi TT RS Roadster, BMW Z4 sdrive35iS, Mercedes-Benz SLK 350
CO2 emissions206g/km (Band F, €1,129 per annum)
Combined economy32.1mpg (8.8 litres/100km)
Top speed283km/h
0-100km/h5.1 seconds
Power315hp at 6,700rpm
Torque360Nm at 4,500rpm

Overall rating: 5/5

It's not easy to improve on perfection, but it looks like Porsche has done just that. More efficient, quicker, lighter, and easier on the eye, there is little to dislike about the new Boxster. In S trim in particular it looks to be a winner with an ability that straddles the sector it sits within and that above, making it a consummate all-rounder.

In the Metal:

Previously the push-me pull-me styling of the Boxster has split opinion, and this evolutionary change will likely see it continue. However, a wider track, space for larger wheels (up to 20 inches in diameter), a longer wheelbase and an overall height reduced by 10mm makes it look much more grown-up - more junior supercar than half-baked 911.

It's inside that the new Boxster benefits from the most improvement, with much of the cabin donated from the new Porsche 911. That means a high transmission tunnel rising directly into the dashboard, quality switchgear and a simple but engaging design. There's substance to go with the style as well, the two luggage compartments adding up to 280 litres in total.

Driving it:

Steering feel. It's an important part of any driving experience, most of all when the rim itself is connected to a mid-engined sports car. Without proper feedback the whole package can only ever add up to 95 per cent of greatness. The new Boxster is just such a car, missing the weighty reaction to initial inputs on the wheel found on previous models. No need to fret though - that electro-mechanical system may detract slightly, but it's by no means the dominant impression from driving the S.

It's still alive this car, its mid-engine configuration and 35kg weight reduction over the previous model helping it display faithful reactions. There's some mild understeer at the limit, unless you're hard on the power, but that limit is now so high that to get there is foolhardy on any public road. That's all thanks to the new 20-inch wheels and Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) system, the latter which brakes the inside rear wheel to maximise the outer tyre's grip as you move through a curve. The result is a car that proves ultimately confidence-inspiring and far more talented than most of those behind the steering wheel.

The new 3.4-litre engine is integral to the enjoyment, coming alive after 4,000rpm and howling manically towards its 6,700rpm peak power point. Quickest with the seven-speed PDK transmission, it makes for a properly quick package, sprinting from 0-100km/h in under five seconds and continues onto over 280km/h. Our car did without the optional paddles behind the wheel though, resorting to the standard push button system on the rim, which can't be recommended. Instead we'd pick the six-speed manual gearbox that comes under none of the criticism levelled at the new seven-speed unit found in the latest 911, feeling weighty, short in shift and with a beautifully mechanical feedback from the stubby lever.

You sit low in the seats, especially the manually adjustable sports options, and the view over the bonnet remains as emotive as ever - the wings poking up at the edges. It's quiet in there too, with little buffeting when the roof is lowered, and a lack of wind or road noise even at high speeds (save for the tyre roar on the larger rims). That roof is now entirely electric as well, and can be lowered or raised at more than 60km/h (though Porsche will tell you the limit is actually 50km/h). Overall it's hard to find a two-seat roadster that is as complete on the road as this new Porsche Boxster S.

What you get for your Money:

Long story short, but in effect you get one of the best all-round two-seat roadsters currently available, just like before. The range starts with the 2.7-litre Boxster and in our brief experience with that car we'd suggest you're not likely to feel short-changed whatever the price ends up being when the new car arrives in Ireland.

It's all in the detail though - being able to customise your car is a key point of Porsche's DNA. The examples we drove were certainly very different, with plenty of options fitted, some expensive and some not so. Highlights include the sports seats, 20-inch wheels and carbon ceramic brakes.

Worth Noting

There's been plenty of rumour about a smaller Porsche, a baby Boxster if you like, but recently signs from Stuttgart (and Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, collaborating on the project) suggest it will not see the light of day. During the new Boxster's presentation it was repeatedly referred to as the baby of the Porsche range, an entry point to the brand. However, board member Wolfgang Hatz did reveal that the firm has a number of mules currently using smaller engines and told us "this life cycle of Boxster will see a four-cylinder boxer engine."

Summary

More grown up, more exciting and more efficient to boot - there really is plenty to like about the new Porsche Boxster. It's one of those cars that manages to tick almost all the boxes, and is just as happy on the Monday morning commute as it is on a Sunday back road blast. Even if you can afford a weekend toy, we'd buy a Boxster S and drive it seven days a week instead.



Tech Specs

Model testedPorsche Boxster S
Engine3.4-litre flat-six petrol
Transmissionsix-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Body styletwo-door roadster
RivalsAudi TT RS Roadster, BMW Z4 sdrive35iS, Mercedes-Benz SLK 350
CO2 emissions206g/km (Band F, €1,129 per annum)
Combined economy32.1mpg (8.8 litres/100km)
Top speed283km/h
0-100km/h5.1 seconds
Power315hp at 6,700rpm
Torque360Nm at 4,500rpm