Hard to imagine that the original Boxster was launched back in1993. There have already been several incarnations since, but the latest 2012 Porsche Boxster is the first time buyers have been offered a genuinely new model. It’s fresh from the road up, which really makes it an interesting proposition.
I’ve always thought the Toyota MR2 has some very clever Porsche styling cues, especially from early Boxster’s, but thankfully not with the latest car. I really like the styling, and for the first time, have been far more interested in knowing more about the Boxster. There are some nice touches too. I like the neat spoiler that runs into the rear light cluster and the far more distinctive front end. It’s also finally grown up and has a far more mature stance and interesting appeal.
There’s also a new roof, longer wheelbase, front suspension from the new 911 and, prices are only up by £1,000 on the current car, which isn’t a huge leap when launching a new model version.
The smaller engine Boxster gets an upgrade to direct injection for the 2012 model, drops in engine size to 2.7-litres but gains 10bhp to 265bhp – that’s more than the original Boxster S. It’s all clever stuff with Porsche responding to the ever stricter CO2 regulations.
I’ve got the keys to a freshly delivered Boxster S, with 315bhp (5bhp increase) and keen to see if it really lives up to the expectations, especially as I’ve only ever driven one Boxster which was a 2008-S last year.
I’m not going to hold back especially as the technical bumf says it’ll now rev to 7,800rpm. It’s a rapid little thing and gets cracking along at such a pace it’s hard to shake the image that a bogo-911 is any quicker. There’s definitely more torque which makes this a very easy car to drive on an early morning hoon. My only slight reservation is you feel you need a bit more ‘oomph’ when overtaking other cars.
Still, this ‘S’ I’m testing has the seven-speed PDK transmission. The gear changes are lightening quick (just like the Bentley GT I drove recently) both with the paddle shifts and in full automatic mode.
It goes without saying that Boxster’s handling is class leading, but it’s the ride that initially impresses me. My test car has the PASM active suspension that automatically adjusts the damping, but I’m blown away at just how it feels. I can only describe it as ‘smooth’ and really comfortable in all conditions.
As with the new 911, the Boxster is now fitted with Porsche’s latest electro-mechanical power steering. It was always going to be criticised, but in fact, I can’t really fault it. You still feel everything from the road through the steering wheel as its set up brilliantly with a nice weight to it. You can aim at and carry through any corner with confidence and flow sweetly through bends with a positive accuracy.
The Boxster’s wheelbase is now 60 mm longer which should make it less agile, but you’d never think so. Instead the stability, grip and balance, plus the accuracy of the steering really make it a delight on the right roads. I’m enjoying every mile.
Moving on, and the inside of the Boxster has been radically altered. It now has the generic look of both the 911 and Panamera and the facelift it’s always needed, which now brings it in line as an alternative to the 911, rather than a junior Porsche.
Seat comfort is ok, but like the 08′ Boxster I drove before, I did start to get a bit of back and leg ache as the frame isn’t as comfortable as it looks – it really needs more support. Luggage space is acceptable for this type of car, and the roof now raises and lowers in nine seconds – far more flashy than the clunky roof of the old model.
Lots of aluminium and high-tech metals drop the overall weight by 30kg’s which is surprising as you would have thought it may have been a few more pounds heavier with all the new kit. The Boxster is also forty per cent stiffer, and it feels like it even on the worst roads I could find.
More power and better economy is a more environmental way of looking at things. The Boxster S is ten per cent more economical with a 32mpg combined cycle. Specify the PDK transmission and the improvement is fifteen per cent over the previous model – 35mpg.
So what do I think?
I really like it. It’s so much more mature than the previous model. It’s quick and handles beautifully. The ride comfort is superb and despite my reservations about the new steering set-up, I enjoyed all of the 300 miles behind the wheel. I also like the way it looks, too. It’s a very handsome thing and I think better looking than any of its latest rivals. I didn’t really want to hand the keys back as I felt that I had only just scratched the surface.
|Max power||315bhp at 6700rpm|