BMW Z4 Coupe 2013 review
BMW Z4 has one of the purest body shapes on the road whether it's used as a closed coupe, or a top-down roadster in which to appreciate the joys of cruising in Australia.
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Think of a butterfly knife and a Bowie - both are sharp but they cut in different ways.
It's like that in two of the key Porsche models - the Boxster S and the brawnier 911 coupe we recently drove, the folding one is a finer and not as beefy, but both can carve through corners and put a big smile on the driver's face.
The 911 is on the wrong side of $250,000 but the Boxster S is far more reasonable, starting at $133,300.
Two seats, two boots, a mid-mounted flat-six and a $133,300 pricetag, which also gets sports seats, a touchscreen satnav and USB/Bluetooth-equipped sound system, dual zone climate control, a fully-automatic electric roof that can be erected in less than 10 seconds at speeds up to 50km/h, wind-blockers, power windows and mirrors, sports steering wheel sans any control buttons.
The instrument panel has the tacho in the middle, with digital speed readout, speedo to the left and a digital screen for a number of driver in readouts (a la 911) with several display options including satnav instruction.
The test car's pricetag had risen to $144,000 with the fitting of amusingly named PASM - Porsche Active Suspension Management - for $3390, 20in Carrera S wheels priced at $3390, $1850 "worth" of metallic paint, electric sports seats for $890, folding mirrors for $690 and the sports steering wheel for $490.
Here's where life gets interesting in the new Boxster S - a 3.4-litre flat "Boxer" aluminium six-cylinder, water-cooled with four overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder.
The engine has an intake system that's been optimised for induction noise, as well as using direct injection and variable valve lift and timing on the inlet side.
For those looking for a little more frugality in their fun, there's a quick and smooth automatic stop-start fuel saver function, although that can be disabled by its own button or by deploying the Sport mode; it also charges the electrical system with brake energy recovery.
The result - 232kW of power at 6700rpm, with peak torque of 360Nm between 4500rpm and 5800rpm.
That's not being asked to haul a lot of lard either - the soft-topped roadster weighs 1320kg and uses aluminium (doors and bootlids) and steel in the body.
The vehicle is 35kg lighter than its predecessor and the model line-up has not increased greatly in weight since its introduction in 1999, when it proffered up 185kW and 305Nm within a 1295kg package.
The Porsche design crew maintain evolution over revolution for its motto, so there's no doubt what you're looking at is a Porsche.
Measuring just 32mm longer overall, the wheelbase is up 60mm (noticeable for taller drivers getting settled in the cabin), track has increased front and rear for a squatter, more aggressive look, it's 13mm lower in overall height with a lower rake to the windscreen.
The Boxster has new-look bi-xenon headlights, wider air intakes and an LED tail-light section that has the rear automatic spoiler integrated within.
The roof is its own tonneau now and while the twin-pipe exhaust to differentiate the S have been retained, they're nestled into a proper rear diffuser.
The cargo space front and rear measures 280 litres all up - 150 litres in the snout and 130 litres above the engine.
Don't expect ANCAP to slam one of these into a pole for a crash test rating anytime soon, but the Boxster S has no shortage of safety gear - stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, dual front and side airbags and whopper stoppers - grabbed by four-piston aluminium calipers front and rear, the front wheels cover 330mm drilled and ventilated discs, the rears are slightly smaller at 299mm.
The Boxster S has grown despite the shadow of its longer-running sibling but this is a vehicle that deserves its own spotlight. The snug cabin is better accommodates taller occupants now and that's thanks to a little more wheelbase. The car-shaped key sparks the flat-six behind your left hip-joint into life and it snorts and snuffles into life.
Hit the Sport button and its woofle gets more pronounced as you blip the right-hand pedal.
The test car is a six-speed manual - something of a rarity not just in Porsches but across the board - but snicking the short-throw lever into first and idling quietly away, the clutch and shift action quickly becomes fun again.
As does the soundtrack - induction noise, metallic yowl, smile, change gears, do it all again. It's not as brutal as the 911 in terms of acceleration - that would never do - but it sings nonetheless.
A series of bends delivers the Boxster's coup de grace - balance. The poise of the mid-engined chassis is kart-like - you point with the steering wheel, which has no other control system apart from directing the front wheels - and it turns.
So connected is the front end to the steering wheel it is almost almost surgical, no fears about electric power steering here, the Porsche system nails it. It can play a little under brakes and again with the rear axle on corner exit, but largely it just scythes through a bend and onto the next one. Beautifully.
The test car had the optional adaptive suspension but only on a perfectly-surfaced road or a racetrack would you really need it. It's control and bump absorption in normal mode is talented enough for any public road.
Around five seconds (the PDK is a smidgin quicker) to 100km/h and its brakes would bring it to a halt in short order too - US testing showed it would stop from that speed in about 31 metres, around six metres sooner than your average small family sedan.
Fuel use isn't outrageous either - the ADR highway-biased claim is 8.8 litres per 100km, but the trip computer was saying 12.4l/100km (at an average 44km/h) after our week in the little German beauty, no mean feat given some of the pro-active driving undertaken.
The Boxster experience is honest and epic, orchestral and sublime - a car you could (and would want to) drive every day.
PORSCHE BOXSTER S MANUAL
Price: from $133,300
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited km
Resale: 61 per cent (Source: Glass's Guide)
Service interval: 20,000km/12 months
Safety rating: not tested
Spare: mobility kit
Engine: 3.4-litre direct-injection variable-valve flat six cylinder, 232kW/360Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual; RWD
Body: 4.4m (L); 1.8m (w); 1.3m (h)
Thirst: 8.8 1/100km, on test 12.4; tank 64 litres; 206g/km CO2
|(base)||2.7L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$52,200 – 66,000||2013 Porsche Boxster 2013 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|S||3.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$52,500 – 66,330||2013 Porsche Boxster 2013 S Pricing and Specs|
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