One of the most balanced sports cars on the market happens to be Porsche’s entry level Boxster. But don’t let its affordable price tag put you off: it’s a precision driving tool that will put a grin on the face of anyone who gets behind its steering wheel.
And grin is what you can’t help but do when you first encounter the latest addition to the Boxster range. First seen back in 2010, the Spyder was a pared-down version of the Boxster S with a bit more power and a lot less weight. It shed its power roof for a lightweight manual top that bore a passing resemblance to a tent with its buttresses. But what joy it was to drive. Porsche has taken the same mentality and applied it to the current Boxster, but with a few additional changes to ensure it’s the best Boxster yet.
Although the roof on the Spyder is still manual, it’s been simplified to make it easier to raise and lower. Once it’s stowed, the view of the Spyder’s unique retro-inspired double-hump tonneau cover and duck-tail spoiler are completely unhindered. A GT3-inspired nose hints at some added performance gains: a lower, firmer suspension ride height, more direct steering, and brakes pinched from the 911 Carrera S.
Porsche borrowed more than just the brakes from the Carrera S, though – it also took its engine. Beneath that rear deck lies the muscular 3.8-litre flat-six though it produces 375 hp here instead of 400. It’s paired exclusively to a quick-throw short-ratio six-speed manual. Beyond active engine and transmission mounts, the Spyder also gains a torque-vectoring rear differential for even sharper handling. Expect a 0-100 km/h time in the 4.5 second range.
Also new to the Boxster range this year is a Black edition package. Offered exclusively on the base Boxster in black, it adds common options like dual-zone climate control, parking sensors, a sport steering wheel, 20-inch wheels, and more for $8,000.
The Boxster and Black edition use a 2.7-litre boxer six, the smallest incarnation of the engine presently on sale. The rev-happy engine produces 265 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque, and can be paired to either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual. This engine, as well as the ones in the S and GTS also include an idle-stop system to save fuel.
The Boxster S and GTS use a 3.4-litre engine that’s shared in common with the base Porsche 911. 315 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque move the S swiftly; the GTS gets an additional 15 hp and 7 lb-ft of torque for added thrills. The GTS extracts the most out of this engine, pairing it with electronically controlled dampers, dynamic transmission mounts, and a lower ride height to boot.
The Boxster offers a more dialed-in driving experience than its key German rivals, not to mention the pricier Jaguar F-Type. Comfort levels are good despite its sporting intentions, and it can easily be used for a daily commute or a cross-country trip.
Sharing its general dashboard and console design with the 911, Cayenne, and Panamera. The button-heavy design may look daunting, but in actuality it’s easy to navigate. Having its engine located in the middle means the Boxster has two trunks; while neither are big, raising or lowering the roof does not impact cargo area, which cannot be said for the Z4 or SLK.
Pricing for the 2016 Porsche Boxster starts at $54,900 with the limited-edition Spyder selling for $93,700.