Ferdinand Porsche’s best known work, the iconic 911, was born in 1963. That puts the car at 50 this year and, well, park the current 911 next to a 1960s original and the plastic surgery starts to show. Before: Audrey Hepburn. After: Pamela Anderson.
It’s still Stuttgart’s champion, but given the middle-aged spread, perhaps it’s time for kid brother Boxster to step into the spotlight. Move over Frank, Jesse James just showed up.
Poor man’s Porsche?
Not even close. This Boxster S is optioned up to spitting distance of $90K. That kind of money will buy you an entry level Corvette, the most steroidal versions of either the Mustang or the Camaro, hell, it’ll get you a nice, low mileage 997 with decent options and an extended warranty.
It’s an expensive little toy, but there’s something much less toy-like about this new version. New larger air intakes shout “track day special”; the haunches are more muscular, shrouding 19” or even 20” alloys in curving sheetmetal. In 3/4 rear profile it looks less like the 911’s younger sibling and more like a Carrera GT in miniature.
Where the exterior menaces, the interior welcomes: it’s far from the spartan greyness of the previous gen two-seater. In fact, with the multi-layered top in place, cruising along a wet, wintry highway, it’s a much bigger feeling car than you’d expect. Rides well. Road noise is near-negligible.
A decent daily driver, capable of commuter-grade complacency even when the current weather is decidedly non-cabriolet. The big, 3.4L engine pads along irrespective of gear choice, as tractable and friendly as a big fat Labrador Retriever. But who cares?
Crack the lid open, and get the heated seats cooking. Set the throttle response from “Stunned” to “Sport”. PASM (Porsche Active Stability Management) gets flicked to sport as well. The highway’s clogged – head for the offramp.
Traffic thins. Past the construction, past the downhill mountain bikers unloading their six thousand dollar mounts, past the spot where the cops are always hiding (yep, they’re there today). Through the long sweeper and behold: an empty road, wriggling onwards endlessly like an Anaconda’s death throes.
Full throttle and the Boxster’s inner Labrador bays lustily from the twin-tip centre-mounted exhaust.
Up we go, through the bends like we’re chasing a tree rat. This mid-engined roadster doesn’t have any of the pendular hip swing that makes shunting a 911 feel like skiing through moguls. Instead, there’s the balance and poise of a super-slalom ski racer – oh, yeah, and the speed, as well.
A word on transmissions: while, objectively, Porsche’s dual clutch PDK would be just as quick here, the snick snick 6-speed manual is as big a part of the charm as the flawless chassis and large lunged flat six. It’s an engaging, involving car to drive, sure footed and quick, quick, quick.
In short, it’s a proper Porsche, and perhaps closer to the true spirit of a proper sportscar than its (theoretically) faster stablemate. Yeah, it’s a lot of money for a two seat roadster; don’t think of it as a value proposition, think of it as the best drop top Stuttgart offers.
2013 Porsche Boxster S
As tested: $88,495