Early on a steamy morning, a half-dozen Porsche Boxster Spyders are simmering in the summer sunshine. Like big, lean cats, they seem to paw the pavement with massive 20-inch wheels wrapped in fat, grippy rubber.
One by one, the drivers inside twist their keys and a symphony of nasty barks and growls comes to life. The rapid-fire explosions ignite the gasoline running through the veins of the high-octane testers here for the first drive of Porsche's latest sports car.
Actually, Porsche engineers refer to it as a "pure sports car," one that accurately defines the heart and soul of Porsche today. That's important. It's no secret Porsche has become an SUV company, earning billions selling Cayennes and Macans. Thus Porsche needs authentic two-seat roadsters for validation. This car shows the world there's a Boxster Spyder in every SUV.
Of course, it has a storied history, sharing an intentional likeness with the 550 Spyder of 1953. Porsche has also incorporated key design elements harkening to the 718 Spyder from the 1960s, too.
Before climbing into my firm racing bucket of a driver's seat, I pause to admire the bulges behind the headrests. They taper like fins down the full length of the rear lid that houses both a small trunk and a newly reinvented manual top that is a satisfying improvement over the previous Spyder. The front and rear end portions are borrowed from the GT4, but the car has its own modern presence.
Then we're off to eat up six hours of twisting, turning, climbing, narrow roads in and around Tuscany. The renewed Boxster Spyder proves to be a wicked joy and a delightful terror – a Boxster lowered by 20 millimetres and armed with all manner of 911 chassis bits, from steering to brakes to engine.
Joachim Meyer, the chassis chief, has said this car should create an excellent synthesis of man, machine and road. It does, but not for everyone.
The car is aimed at the 0.01 per cent of wealthy, passionate drivers who own a dozen cars. These few want an open-air roadster – all 375 burbling horsepower of it – that demands skill to wring the best out of its spectacularly precise responses: brakes, steering, throttle, gearbox. This car is real and demanding; poseurs will be overwhelmed.
- Base price: $93,700
- Engines: 3.8-litre six-cylinder.
- Transmission: Six-speed manual.
- Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 14.2 city/7.5 highway, using premium fuel.
- Alternatives: Alfa Romeo 4C, Audi TTS, BMW Z4, Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG.
- Looks: The Spyder is 20 millimetres lower than the normal Boxster which, along with design hood, lowers the car’s centre of gravity and gives the roadster a characteristic design. Two striking elements, known as “streamliners,” stretch from behind the head restraints over the long trunk lid.
- Interior: At first glance, it seems you should be prepared for discomfort. But that’s not the case. The cockpit is relatively spacious and the layout of instruments and controls is simple and clean.
- Performance: Intelligent and generous use of lightweight materials have cut weight to 1,315 kilograms. So it’s nimble and tossable. The 3.8-litre six-cylinder engine from the 911 Carrera S with 375 hp gives it a top speed of 290 km/h and 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds.
- Technology: What you are looking at is a 911 in Boxster Spyder guise. There is a classic mechanical differential at the rear to control torque between the two wheels, but the lock is part of the Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) system. PTV, the engineers say, uses careful braking at the rear wheel inside a curve to improve steering response and precision. The electro-mechanical power steering is adapted from the 911 Turbo and the brake calipers and rotors come from the 911 Carrera S.
- Cargo: The aluminum hood at the rear covers the top, the part of the mid-engine and a cargo space large enough to hold two small duffles, perhaps one golf bag sans fairway woods/metals.
You could spend more on a sports car, but why?
The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.
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