British B-roads in a Porsche Boxster
The new Porsche Boxster S is a fabulous car. That statement isn't going to please the Porsche purists out there, but you can't escape the fact that this is one of the best cars Porsche currently makes. And that's saying something because if any manufacturer knows how to build a great driver's car, it's Porsche.
So bite your tongue, hide your hairdresser stereotypes and quash your gender perceptions, and let's embark on a B-road journey through Britain where the Boxster S really shows that it is a sportscar like no other.
We're only an hour outside London and proof that you don't need to travel far to find decent driver's roads. The Chilterns provide a dramatic landscape with roads that wind around their curves and gradients making this proper driving territory.
The intention is to travel from here, on B roads, to the beautiful Cotswolds in time for lunch. A classic British road trip, in other words.
The Boxster is the perfect car for the job, too. We love our roadsters in Britain and they don't get much better than this.
Zap - the roof is back in seconds and the sun is beaming its full glory on my scalp. Sport Plus is engaged, the sports suspension isn't and I'm ready for a B-road blast through the back garden of England.
The engine is in the 'right place'
So what is it that makes the Boxster so special? The engine is in the 'right place' unlike that of its stubborn sibling, so it's better behaved at the limit if you're an average driver and don't have the name Walter Rohl stitched in your driving boots.
The Boxster is designed with engine placed in the middle, right behind your head, for perfect weight distribution so it handles with a finesse and balance you just don't find with the 911.
Where the 911 feels large on the road, the Boxster is compact, and with the weight savings over the old model and an extra dollop of ponies, it all adds up to a properly engaging, raw and stimulating driving experience.
Manly, you say?
This new Boxster is a proper looker, too. Porsche has worked hard to make it more manly. Looking down the side profile of the car you can see hints of the 918 Spyder hypercar. It feels more exotic than a £45k ought to.
Embarking on a B-road-only drive means turning off the sat-nav, dusting off the road atlas and ignoring logical thought. A passenger who can read a map and mouth directions is very helpful.
Driving on twisty country roads, sticking to the 60mph limit should be fairly easy if the road is challenging enough, so your driving licence shouldn't be at risk. Though that is easier said than done in the Boxster S.
It takes normal convention and sets fire to it
Because this car does to physics what Charles Darwin did to religion. It takes normal, level-headed convention and sets fire to it.
The Boxster S astounds with the speed with which it can flow down a country road. Corners can be taken faster than you ever thought possible. Pile on the power mid corner and the Boxster doesn't flinch, even in the wet.
Over roads like these it is hard to imagine how its bigger brother could be any quicker unless the letters GT and the number 3 are fitted to the engine cover.
From 5,000rpm it flies
Power is up by 10hp to 315 and it will now hit 62mph in 5.1 seconds - that's almost 911 territory. From 2,500rpm you can feel the Boxster get in the mood and by 5,000rpm it displays all its vigour all the way to the 7,000+rpm red line.
As is the case with the 911, the controversial electric power steering has made it onto the Boxster but this isn't the weak point you might imagine it to be. It's one of the most communicative systems ever.
The Boxster displays wonderful refinement
And with Sport Plus engaged the bark from the exhaust is intoxicating, egging you on and tempting you to perfect your throttle blips. The six-speed manual of our test car is the preferred option, too, over the flappy paddle gearbox. The changes are light, accurate and fast, but beware of the overly stiff clutch.
However, the Boxster isn't just a rabid beast of the countryside. When you're in the mood for tinkling along with the roof up, the Boxster displays wonderful refinement and the engines are quiet at a cruise.
Over the course of our journey, it would appear we've been enjoying the Boxster a bit too much over the course of our journey because we've arrived in the Cotswolds before the pub has even opened. Time for more driving...