Photo credit: Blackball Media/Jonathan Fleetwood
Porsche has announced it will be releasing a turbocharged Boxster in the coming months. With the engine change a big deal for the Stuttgart company – the Boxster has been a naturally-aspirated icon – it could change the face of the two-seater convertible as we know it. We've managed to grab a go in one of the last of the previous breed – the Boxster Spyder.
What is it?
The Boxster is an all-out sports car, with enough power to satisfy even the most die-hard of Porsche purists. Featuring a fabric hood and very few creature comforts on top, it's designed to offer the purest driving experience. With two seats, the open sky and the open road, there's few reasons not to like the Spyder from the off.
What's under the bonnet?
Porsche have ditched the Cayman S engine that featured in the previous generation car and given the Spyder a full-fat 3.8-litre engine that produces 370bhp. You'll also see this engine in the hardcore Cayman GT4, though this weighs 25kg more than the Spyder. Because of it, you'll see 62mph in just 4.5 seconds and carry on to a top speed of 180mph.
Thanks to a slick six-speed manual transmission, every second of that is a riot – and a full sports exhaust means that the Spyder has all the growls and crackles you'd usually associate with a proper sports car. Don't look to the Spyder for economy however, with official consumption figures at 28.6mpg, you'll be lucky to see 20.
What's the spec like?
You get an engine, a fabric roof and not much else. Our car came with fantastic one-piece carbon bucket seats that are extremely supportive, as well as offering a spot-on driving position for whoever is behind the wheel. All of the cabin's surfaces are trimmed in alcantara, and each and every thing you touch feels solid and of a high quality. That said, our car came without a radio and as lovely as that 3.8-litre engine is, a convertible needs a soundtrack. Imagine the yacht in the Duran Duran Rio video without that tune?
The convertible roof does have an electronic system, though this only controls the very top latch. After that, the entire process is manual. You have to open the rear clamshell boot and fold the roof in yourself, which isn't something you'd like to be doing in the rain. Luckily, you'll have plenty of room for coats and umbrellas, as the Spyder has a surprising amount of storage space thanks to a deep boot in the nose of the car, and another storage area under that clamshell rear.
Overall the Spyder is stripped back for sure, but it only enables you to further enjoy every aspect of driving it.
As yet, not really. The Boxster Spyder, at £60,459, does lend itself to a bit of trouble from its little brother the Boxster GTS. This comes with a fully-electronic roof and is also over £6,000 cheaper. You could also say that the Lotus Exige S comes as a rival, and is also cheaper than the Spyder.
What's it like to drive?
Right then. It's hard to throw so many positive words in to one paragraph, but to summarise, the Spyder is a riot to drive.
Thanks to torque that is only accessed much further up the rev range than you'd expect, the Porsche goads you into driving quicker. Drive the Spyder hard and you'll be rewarded with, as well as whole lot of power to hand, a sublime exhaust noise. Coupled with that slick gear change, you'll easily slip into a comfortable rhythm.
The ride, though lowered 11mm over the Boxster GTS thanks to sports suspension, is supple enough to deal with lumps and bumps around town. Get up to speed, and the whole car feels fully planted. It's very easy to reach higher speeds very quickly, but remains smooth on city streets too.
The Spyder's steering is also excellent, and a touch quicker than you'd imagine. Through the corners, everything is translated to the driver via a steering wheel that is perfect in size and thickness. Every single control weight is spot-on, from the pedal feel to the short throw gearbox. As such, the Spyder feels as though it wants to be driven, and driven hard all of the time.
It's very difficult to criticise the Boxster Spyder, as it does everything that you could want a sports car to do, and more again. On top of that, it does look special – it's a hard car to park if you want to remain inconspicuous. Almost every time we left the car somewhere, we returned to find it the subject of many admirers.
AOL Cars Verdict
As previously mentioned, the Spyder is how sports cars should be done. Every single aspect of the car is exciting and immediate, from the excellent carbon ceramic brakes to the automatically rev-matching gearbox that blips the throttle on every downshift. Even the doors shut with satisfying weightiness.
You'd be hard pressed to want more from a sports car and we'd struggle to suggest changes. The gearbox could be slightly shorter-geared, but that's a tiny criticism. It provides all of the drama that even more expensive supercars fail to give. Other drivers appear to love it, and attention that it garners is well deserved.
We're looking forward to the new Boxster heading our way. It's definitely a sign of things to come, and echoes a move towards turbocharging that is being mirrored by other manufacturers too. We're just glad that Porsche has, and continue at times, to produce naturally-aspirated crackers like the Boxster Spyder. Can we just keep the keys?
Model: Porsche Boxster Spyder
Engine: 3.8-litre flat six
0-62mph: 4.6 seconds
Top Speed: 180mph
Economy: 28.5mpg (combined)