2012 Porsche Boxster: oh my!
Still want that 911? CJ doesn't...
In airport lounges, at hotel bars and over dinner – the word is travelling, usually in hushed tones, self-consciously straddling the line between reverent and furtive. A lick of the lips, an enquiring glance, and then the question:
…driven the new Porsche Boxster?”
Motoring hacks hanging out with other motoring hacks, the conversation naturally turns to cars. But the sheer awe reserved for discussions of the latest baby Porsche I think defies anything else I have ever experienced before. The general consensus seems to be that it isn’t just good, it’s truly mighty.
Until two weeks ago I was forced to admit that no, I hadn’t the pleasure. I wasn’t sure whether I should be ashamed or simply start crying. Anyway, cue the arrival of RJ12 FNA. And the world tilts – just slightly, but all the same…
I’ve been trying to figure out why the new Boxster is so affecting. I think it’s because for the first time, the third generation car is now an almost total package. Ok, some may rue the steering changes wrought by the shift to electric assistance but I have to say that didn’t bother me in the least. Electric it may be, this is still a Porsche – and it’s the best electric system yet.
I was far more compelled by the fact it finally looks all junior supercar. Gone is the amorphous asexuality of the previous two generations, and in its place a set of finely honed curves that flow right through to that sharply pointed spoiler on the trailing edge of the boot lid. The surprising Aqua blue shade here only heightens the impact, so deep and languorous. Yes, you’re right. I’m getting carried away.
Ahem. There’s more to a car than mere good looks, of course, but before I get into the driving experience, it’s also worth considering just how affordable the Boxster is in the grand scheme of things. The basic car – and options aside FNA is a basic car, being the entry-level 2.7 with the standard six-speed manual – lists at under £38,000.
That’s not far off 50% less than the £72k you’ll need to get into a 911. Fair enough, a top spec MX-5 is under £24k, and includes a folding metal roof. Yet it honestly only takes a moment – a moment – to understand where the extra money has gone.
That said, with such effusive praise from all quarters, some of whom had only driven the more powerful 3.4-litre S variant, I was prepared to be a little disappointed once I finally had the key in my hand. How naïve.
This car feels good literally the moment you set off – which is actually quite unusual for a Porsche – and only gets better from there. It starts with the vastly improved cabin, roomy yet still snug thanks to the rise of the roll hoops behind you, and the immediacy of the steering. You’ll be smiling before you’ve gone fifty yards.
The key sensation is the total absence of slack, whether that be the drivetrain, the wheel response or the ride quality. On optional 20s the ride isn’t butter smooth, more like authoritative – with zero excess movement until you really wind it up. At which point you can just press the Sport button on the optional Porsche Active Suspension Management, and heel over even harder again.
This car basically gives you every impression that it’s going to do exactly what you ask of it. Yet it’s anything but cold, talking to you all the while, letting you fully absorb its interaction with the road surface, tantalising you with its balance and grip. Porsche swears blind this particular car isn’t fitted with the optional Torque Vectoring system; still the way its backside helps tuck the front end into corners will leave your uninitiated passengers breathless. The finesse achievable here is sublime.
I will concede that it isn’t perfect. Though this car excels at making you feel good no matter how fast you’re going, with just the 265hp to propel even a slimmed-down 1,310kg, there were occasionally overtaking moments where I felt I might have bitten off more than I could chew. To use a totally inappropriate metaphor. The engine, though soulful – and tuneful – isn’t instantly incisive. I found it always came through once fully stoked, but suspect the bigger lungs of the 315hp Boxster S will take the sublime to the ridiculous. Especially in terms of the achievable apex speeds.
Putting that to one side, the Boxster speaks to me on a deep and meaningful level. I’m a sucker for a drop-top, which helps, and my needs suit its compact size, but the new Boxster raises this category of car to an entirely different level of desirability for me. If I had the means – and for all its relative affordability I really don’t – I would happily drive one of these every single day, no question. Given I spend my life hopping from one car to the next on never more than a weekly basis I hope you understand that’s high praise indeed. Easily my ride of the year, thus far.
My girlfriend, incidentally, hated it.
What da funk is a supposedly-light (1310Kg is PORKY!) car with NO ENGINE up-front doing with ANY assistance on the steering, be it hydraulic OR electric? Don't people have any MUSCLE? I've always found any power-steering system deadens and diminishes FEEL from the front wheels, and isn't FEEL what a car like this is supposed to be all about?
And when Gordon Murray tells us that the ONLY reason to fit tall wheels, is to clear the brakes behind them, I listen You can see what must be a good clear 3" between the caliper and the inside of the rim in these photos. Un-sprung weight = evil. Rotating weight = evil. Unsprung and Rotating weight = evil X evil (evil Squared!) On 20" rims, this Porsche has to feed four large, heavy flywheels every time it is accellerated, and every time the brakes have been used. Tall, heavy wheels don't want to turn into a bend, or brake - and TALL wheels raise the car up to half the wheel height (think about it) plus the height of the siidewall. Taller the wheel, higher the car sits - don't we try to LOWER a car, to make it handle bends faster? Does form mean more than function to Porsche these days?
I made the error of following fashion with my Alfa-Romeo, I thought I needed to put 16" wheels on, and did so - what a mistake, the car had 'house-fly' responses to throttle, steering and brakes when I had the 15" wheels on - on the 16"s, all service comes with a delay, the car pauses and muses "Errrrmmmm" before it does anything. My 15"s are going back on, and my power-steering is coming off. What this Porsche feels like on TWENTIES, when it could be on 16"s, I can only wonder.
My Alfa weighs 1070Kg, and I'm going to drop around 160Kg from it soon. And then up the power from 165Bhp to around 225, by fitting a supercharger, intercooler and water-methanol injection. Should give these Boxsters a run for their money!
Engineers are using robots to test Ford vehicles through some of the most strenuous obstacles in the industry.
Date 18/06/13, Duration 2:20, Views 315
What anti-social motoring behaviour do you most hate?
Thanks for being one of the first people to vote. Results will be available soon. Check for results
- Queue jumping
- Mobile phone use
- Middle lane hogging
- Forgetting to indicate
- Flashing headlights