Though not the fastest car on the block by a long shot, the Boxster is one of the very best to drive.
Peter Barnwell road test and reviews the new entry-level Porsche Boxster at its Australian launch.
Really, truly, you’d be a happy vegemite with the new base model Porsche Boxster – with no options and the manual six-speed tranny. The price is $107,500. It’s the purest form of this new generation Boxster, featuring only the second platform since the model appeared to save Porsche’s bacon back in 1997.
Like the original, Boxster has plenty of Porsche 911 Carrera content but not as many as previous models which had up to 40 per cent Carrera parts including the doors. But technology flow-down sees the new Boxster with a hybrid alloy/steel chassis and body panels for considerable weight savings of between 25-35kg depending on the model.
Two versions are available, Boxster and Boxster S , the former with a 2.7-litre flat six, down from the previous 2.9 and Boxster S with a 3.4-litre flat six lifted from Carrera. It’s bigger than before, rides on a longer wheelbase and wider track and the body offers considerably more room albeit with minimal in cabin storage.
It retains a classic soft top roof with Porsche’s clever and simple Z- fold system and a hard magnesium plate under the main roof for rigidity and security. The glass rear window is larger than before for improved rear vision.
Porsche drew on styling elements from the gorgeous Carrera GT particularly around the frontal area and the side air intakes feeding cooling air into the mid-mounted engine. Overhangs front and rear are shorter than before and the car looks wide and handsome from the rear view.
The look is stunning from all angles and there’s an interior to match featuring lashings of stitched leather and classic styled round dials with a centre stack containing numerous electronic system controls.
UNDER THE BONNET?
Both boxer engines have make more power than before boasting direct fuel injection and variocam valve actuation for lift and timing. The 2.7 is good for 195kW/280Nm while the 3.4 generates some 232kW/360Nm running a high compression ratio of 12.5:1.
Like the 911 Carrera, a seven speed PDK dual clutch manumatic transmission is available with the standard transmission a six speed manual. Both models have a Sport button that sharpens the car’s dynamics and throttle response. Optional Sports Chrono brings further dynamic adjustment options and launch control, oh, and a natty chronograph (clock) in the middle of the dash.
Porsche is serious about saving fuel and equips both Boxsters with (switchable) auto stop/start. Emissions are also down considerably on the previous model. A dynamic exhaust system is also available offering a more strident trumpet to the centre mounted exhaust.
It’s a rock solid chassis with the roof up or down, the latter taking about nine seconds. There are new brake calipers and suspension geometry as well as bushes have been altered for improved responses and less dive under brakes.
But in general, the basic elements of the previous model’s underpinnings have been carried over – with modification. Porsche was able to pull 55kg out of the body shell through using the steel/aluminium combination. Steel has been used in specific areas where additional strength is required such as the A pillars.
Active transmission mounts stiffen under hard use such as at the racetrack. They use a special oil filled with metal that is magnetically excited to stiffen and lock the engine in place or soften it when driving normally.
Boxster has torque vectoring that selectively applies the brakes individually to help it around corners (if needed) A limited slip mechanical diff also helps in this regard. Wheel sizes vary from the standard issue 18s through to optional 20s and the steering system is electro-hydraulic.
Though not the fastest car on the block by a long shot, the Boxster is one of the very best to drive – really drive, because it has the necessary feel and systems to deliver on its promise. Having said that, the S with Sports Chrono will put away a 0-100kmh sprint in a scant 4.8 seconds and has clocked a lap of the Nurburgring at 7m.58sec.
The low centre of gravity and mid-mounted engine make Boxster arguably the best steerer in Porsches line-up, made even better with the new model’s upgrades, in particular the electrically boosted steering. It hooks through corners like a racing kart and blasts out the other side lining up the next challenge – a real attack dog of a sports car.
The two we drove at launch were the top of the whizzer S with PDK and Sports Chrono selling for upwards of $130,000. It was a superb thing to whip along a mountain road and equally as good on the freeway. Few cars would be as quick point to point.
Then we got into the base model 2.7 manual and funny enough, it was just as good, possibly better because you could link with the car and drive the wheels off it. All this to the accompaniment of that snarling, cackling, popping exhaust. With the roof down, it’s a raw, visceral experience you never want to end – well almost.
We love the 911 Carrera but a reality check would see us happy as pigs in poo in the base model Boxster manual. It is an excellent roadster with drop dead gorgeous looks, plenty of kit and a sound to make you weak at the knees. One of the best.
Engine: 2.7-litre flat six, 195kW/280Nm
Transmission: Six speed manual
Porsche Boxster S
Engine: 3.4-litre flat six, 232kW/360Nm
Transmission: Six speed manual
0-100km/h: 4.8 seconds