Review: The new Porsche Boxster SBy Philip Shoulder
January 17, 2013
Porsche’s latest 981 Boxster sheds weight while adding power and efficiency
Since first launching in 1996, the Porsche Boxster has offered drivers’ a Porsche experience for a fraction of the price of the marque’s flagship sports car.
The roadster body style and mid-engined layout with sharp yet predictable handling have won it many fans, although its talents have always been overshadowed by that of its bigger brother, the 911.
Yet the Boxster has continued to improve throughout its life, benefiting from many of the innovations and developments found elsewhere in the Porsche range.
The latest Boxster features an all-new lightweight body incorporating a completely revised chassis.
Overall kerbweight has dropped 35 kg, there’s a 60 mm longer wheelbase, widened track on the front and rear axles, and larger wheels and tyres.
A combination of new flat-six engines utilising direct petrol injection give better performance and up to 15 per cent greater fuel efficiency, meaning the 2.7 Boxster develops 265 hp yet achieves 34.4 mpg and 192g/km Co2.
The 315 hp 3.4 S delivers 32.1mpg and 206g/km Co2. PDK auto transmission brings increased efficiency with both powertrains.
The Boxster features an Alcantara interior, 18” alloy wheels, Auto stop/start and Sports mode, remote control hood operation, audio CD with 7-inch colour touch-screen control, a universal audio interface with MP3 connectivity.
The Boxster S adds 19-inch alloy wheels, partial leather interior and Bi-Xenon headlights.
Although unmistakably a Boxster, the new car has a purposeful stance and distinctive, sharper profile.
A new, fully electric hood opens in just 9 seconds (up to speeds of 30mph).
The cabin has improved in size and is a much classier affair than before, thanks to better quality materials and switchgear, with the dashboard using a similar layout to that found in the Panamera and 911.
It’s a more comfortable and quieter place too: the longer wheelbase meaning a more pliant ride, although it remains firm over poorer road surfaces.
One area that still disappoints is the standard equipment list: Having to pay extra for a wind deflector, heated seats, Bluetooth and parking sensors on a car as prestigious as this seems a bit stingy.
But of course an open top sports car isn’t bought for its comfort, practicality or equipment, it’s purchased for its ability to put a big smile on the driver’s face… and that it does admirably.
Both the standard 2.7 and 3.4 litre engines make a wonderful noise and are capable of propelling along the 1320kg roadster very quickly indeed.
The smaller engine requires more revs, while the more powerful and flexible 3.4 delivers a gut-punch right across the rev band.
Both variants are available with either six-speed manual or seven speed PDK auto.
It’s down to personal preference as to which you’ll prefer: the PDK is quicker, but the manual more involving.
Purity of handling has always been Boxster’s trump card and this 981 model doesn’t disappoint.
Indeed thanks to chassis improvements and a weight reduction it’s better than ever and can be enhanced with Porsche’s Torque Vectoring System (PTV) which acts like a limited slip differential – further improving the car’s sure-footedness. Driver involvement hasn’t been diluted by the new electro-mechanical steering either.
Yes, it does feel a bit different, but it retains the superb communicative abilities of the old hydraulic set-up.
All of this means the Boxster can be driven quickly very easily, as it inspires confidence and always feels composed with huge amounts of grip.
If the driver does push too hard, Porsche’s Stability Management System (PSM) acts as safety net: by continuously monitoring the speed, yaw velocity and lateral acceleration of the car.
If the car begins to oversteer or understeer, PSM applies selective braking on individual wheels in order to regain stability.
Although undoubtedly capable, the divide between Boxster and 911 was always a big one – both in monetary terms
and outright dynamic performance. Indeed for most of its life, this disparity saddled Porsche’s mid-engined roadster
with the nickname: ‘Poor man’s 911’.
Sixteen years on and three generations later, this label is increasingly hard to level at the Boxster: given that the
starting price for base models is £37,589 and £45,384 for the sportier S version. Performance is now better than ever
too, with the Boxster S PDK close on the heels of the base 911 Carrera with a 0-62 time of 5.0 seconds.
Perhaps most importantly, it now feels a much more complete car than before: in dynamics, performance, looks,
quality and desirability. Without question, this is the best Boxster by a country mile.
|Engine||Flat 6, mid engine transverse,|
3436cc, normally aspirated
|Max Power||315 hp @ 6,700 rpm|
|Max Torque||360 Nm @ 4,500-5,800 rpm|
|Acceleration 0-62mph||5.1 secs|