The Porsche Boxster has long been the benchmark in the sports roadster sector, writes Julia Graham.
But with the old car bowing out at the top and being replaced by a bigger, faster and more efficient model, rival manufacturers will find themselves once again playing catch up.
The Porsche Boxster’s reputation as a driver’s car has been burnished with each successive generation and this third generation car appears the biggest step forward to date. The entry level engine has been downsized to a 2.7-litre unit, but the good news is that it generates 10bhp more than the old 2.9-litre lump, managing a hearty 265bhp, which is more than the original Boxster S. The new Boxster S retains a 3.4-litre capacity but the powerplant is now good for 315bhp. As before, both engines feature direct injection for improved efficiency.
A six-speed manual is fitted as standard, although the optional seven-speed PDK double clutch gearbox is sure to be popular. This gets revised software for quicker and smoother shifts. With the optional PDK gearbox, this improved Boxster will hit 62mph in a claimed 5.7s with the Boxster S managing to knock over the benchmark sprint in just 5.0s. The longer wheelbase of the Boxster promises better ride quality while the wider front track offers improved grip. Like the latest 911, this generation Boxster switches from Porsche’s traditional hydraulic power steering to a more efficient electro mechanical setup developed by ZF. Most cars will come out of dealers weighing around 100kg less than their immediate predecessors which has direct benefits on handling, acceleration and efficiency.
At a superficial glance, the Boxster looks like a subtle evolution of its predecessor. Pay a little closer attention and you’ll appreciate that it’s a tauter looking thing. The original car’s well-worn ‘bar of soap’ look has morphed into something edgier and more athletic. The long overhangs at the front and rear have gone and the air intakes on the flanks are now of more strident design. The rear wheelarches are more pronounced, lending a definite haunch to the rear of the car.
It’s hard to countenance now, but the Boxster wasn’t an instant hit for Porsche. Many saw the original 204bhp 2.5-litre car as being an overly watered down facsimile of what a proper Porsche should be. How times have changed. As the mainstream 911 model and its market has matured, the Boxster, and its sibling coupe model, the Cayman, have increasingly become the exemplars of the company’s know how for a new generation of buyers. This latest Boxster only underscores that fact to the extent that the many buyers will question why you’d pay a big premium for an open topped 911. The marginal benefit of a vestigial pair of rear seats?
Horses for courses you may rightly say, none of which detracts from the fact that Porsche has excelled itself in improving the latest Boxster. The last model bowed out while still comfortably at the top of its game with rivals scratching around for ways to get close. I have a suspicion that it’ll be a similar story when this version finally gets pensioned off.