THERE are times, driving the Porsche Boxster, when it is easy to forget that it is a factory-produced machine made up of thousands and thousands of parts bolted and screwed together.
No, as it unflinchingly powers around another bend in the road with little regard for physics, it feels more like it was hewn from a single ingot of German oomph by some ballsy, beardy Wagnerian hero who lives in a volcano. And, with the sports exhaust amplifying the throaty roar of the engine to an ear-splitting baritone as you race through the notes of the seven-speed Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (or dual-clutch gearbox), it kind of sounds like it too. It’s an operatic experience, alright.
And that’s just the entry-level Boxster we drove, with its 2.7-litre flat six-cylinder engine blasting out 265bhp. The Boxster S boasts a 3.4-litre engine at 311bhp, while the GTS packs another 14 horses into the same motor.
Regardless of the engine’s size, its position in the middle of the car lends the Boxster uncommon precision, which translates into sheer unbridled joy and exhilaration when throwing it around a bendy country road. The steering is tight and the ride is very firm – with every cobble or bump, or pothole reminding the driver that this is a proper sports car. However, with the optional Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system fitted (£971), the ride can be softened for such surfaces.
The bog-standard Boxster can cover 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds, but our version came with the £1,084 Sport Chrono Package Plus fitted, which includes launch control and shaves a whopping, um, 0.1 seconds from that. Finding a quiet road and setting up the launch control is exciting, but the controlled, efficient release and optimal acceleration isn’t actually as exhilarating as doing it, albeit badly, yourself and making the tyres squeal.
However, that £1,084 does get you the Sport Plus button. The standard Sport button commands the electronic engine management system to switch the engine mapping, offering sharper response and more direct engine dynamics. With the gearbox in automatic mode, upshifts take place at higher engine speeds and downshifts are swifter. The aforementioned PASM and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) also adjust to harder damping and more direct steering.
The Sport Plus setting simply ramps things up further. The engine becomes even more responsive, while the rev-limiter looks the other way. In town, this can lead to people pointing and staring at you as if you can’t drive, as you need to charge all the way up to 50mph before that Doppelkupplungsgetriebe seven-speed automatic gearbox decides it’s a good time to get out of first gear.
On the open road, however, it’s just thrilling. The car demands that you push it – ease off the pedals and the engine loudly burbles and grumbles its disapproval. The throttle blip function is a joy to hear as it snarls through the optional sport exhaust (£1,473).
To enjoy the full aural experience, of course, you need to open the roof – this takes just nine seconds and can be done while still moving at speeds up to 30mph.
For such an exhilarating two-seater, it’s surprisingly practical. The engine being in the middle opens up space for a nice deep 150-litre storage compartment in the nose and a 130-litre boot in the back. Official average fuel consumption is 36.7mpg, although it’s unlikely anyone with a pulse will have the restraint to achieve this.
Build quality is just supreme. The firmness of the chassis helps with handling, while the sturdiness of the cabin inspires all the confidence you’d expect from the Stuttgart constructor. There are some cunning touches throughout. We love the right-hand binnacle, which displays various bits of information – our favourite screen was the full-colour map; it looks superb but is also supremely practical, sitting in your eyeline. The satnav itself, linked up to Porsche’s Communication Management system (a hefty £2,141), is particularly impressive and very quick to warn you of slow traffic ahead.
Less useful, we think, is the ability to display information such as battery charge and engine temperature on that binnacle. Given that the only accessible engine parts we could find were the oil cap and the windscreen washer reservoir, this information seems a little surplus to requirements.
Hidden in the dash on the passenger side are some devilishly clever cupholders which unfold outwards with a mechanism that wouldn’t look out of place in a Transformers movie. Less impressive was the sound quality of the optional £397 Sound Package Plus – save your money for fuel.
The basic, option-free version of the Boxster costs £38,237. Our car, loaded with options such as the £2,405 leather sports seats, came in at £54,880. This puts it firmly in Mercedes SLK55 AMG price territory, but if you were to shave off some of those options and just keep the sports exhaust and the Sport Chrono Package Plus, you could be paying £40,000 for it – classical music to the ears of some.
PRICE £38,237 (£54,880 as tested)
ENGINE 2.7l petrol, 6 cyl, 265bhp, 206 lb ft
PERFORMANCE Max speed 162mph; 0-62mph 5.6s