Porsche Boxster 981-Series Porsche Boxster/Spyder Base Engine 2.7L/265-hp/207-lb-ft flat-6 Opt Engine 3.4L/315-330-hp...
Porsche Boxster 981-Series
Porsche Boxster/Spyder
Base Engine 2.7L/265-hp/207-lb-ft flat-6
Opt Engine 3.4L/315-330-hp/266-273-lb-ft flat-6; 3.8L/375-hp/309-lb-ft flat-6
Drivetrain Mid-engine, RWD
Transmission 6M; 7-sp twin-cl auto
Basic Warranty 4 yrs/50,000 miles
IntelliChoice 5-Yr Retained Value 49%

MINOR EPA ECON CITY/HWY: 18-22/24-32 MPG 0-60 MPH: 3.8-5.6 SEC*
BASE PRICE $53,095-$83,095
BODY TYPE Convertible

Porsche saved the best for last. Because a successor with a turbocharged flat-four is ready to replace the current-gen Boxster, Porsche is giving its popular roadster a proper send-off. The Spyder, a follow-up to the bare-bones Boxster Spyder from 2009, is the most impressive Boxster to date: 375 hp, suspension from the Boxster GTS, brakes from a 911 Carrera S, no standard air-conditioning, and no standard radio. It’s the ultimate expression of a no-frills, topless Porsche.

UNCHANGED A beautiful roadster with unreal performance
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  •   Russ Smith reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    The #2016 #Porsche Boxster Spyder / #Porsche-Boxster-Spyder / #Porsche-Boxster-Spyder-981 / #Porsche-Boxster / #Porsche-Boxster-981

    Porsche is on a roll with its sub-911 models, so with added power, less weight and a new roof, is the Spyder an even better Boxster than our current fave, the GTS?

    About now there would probably have been a sound akin to a hurricane denuding a small campsite if I’d been in the old Boxster Spyder. I’m on an autobahn and have breached 200km/h, which, while not a phenomenal rate of knots, is nonetheless the maximum permissible speed of the old Spyder with its ‘shower cap’ roof in place.

    This 2015 Spyder has no such issues, however, and although the new roof above my head still looks rakish and saves a useful 10kg, it can be used all the way up to the car’s top speed of 290km/h. Traffic on the autobahn won’t let me reach quite those heights today, but I push on to 267km/h (the old Spyder’s top speed) just to ram the point home. This time the Boxster Spyder was designed from the outset with a roof and, as a consequence, that roof is much more integrated. There is a button-operated motor to attach it securely to the header rail, but the rest of the stowage or erection is done manually. It’s relatively simple once you’ve got used to a couple of quirks (the trickiest part is finding the button beneath the canvas that releases each of the ‘fins’ attaching it to the rear deck) and by the end of my time with the Spyder I’ll be able to complete the whole process in around 30 seconds if I do my very best running-around-the-car-Le- Mans-pit-stop impression.

    As for the rest of the car, well, on paper at least it has clearly usurped the already wonderful GTS at the top of the 981 Boxster tree. With the 3.8-litre flat-six from the 991 Carrera S (and the CaymanGT4) mounted amidships, the Spyder puts out a healthy 33kW more than the Boxster GTS (but 7kW less than the GT4). Torque is up on the GTS by 50Nmtoo and the 0-100km/h time has dropped by 0.5sec, to 4.5sec. In addition to the largely manually operated roof, some 918-inspired seats plus a lack of air con and radio as standard help to drop the kerb weight by 30kg to 1315kg.

    For reasons that will be explained in a future issue, I’m driving a large number of kilometres in a Spyder across a seasonally hot and sunny stretch of Europe, and as a result I’m rather pleased that this particular car was specced with air con and PCM infotainment. It’s a slightly tricky conundrum, however, because obviously the purist in me thinks that potential owners should spec their Spyders to be pared-back paragons, yet the realist in me admits that a Spyder is likely to be used much more if you add in a couple of little luxuries so that long motorway journeys to the mountains are much more pleasurable. I believe it’s what is known as a first-world problem. The speedster-looking rear and The much more aggressive front end suggest that this is going to be a very different sort of Boxster to drive. However, initially there doesn’t feel like there is a stark leap in performance over a GTS. The culprit is the Boxster’s tall gearing, which masks the greater power if you’re only driving at a moderate six tenths. Up the pace, though, and the extra urge really starts to make itself felt, with the flat-six getting into its considerable stride above about 5000rpm, where the peak torque plateau begins.

    The 20mm-lower Sports chassis that’s an option on the GTS is standard here, and although the low stance of the Spyder suggests an uncompromising ride, the suspension is actually surprisingly compliant over some extremely broken sections of road.

    What is new to this Boxster is the steering, which is taken from the 991 Turbo (which has a quicker rack), and the lovely, smaller, 360mm-diameter steering wheel also seen in the new GT3 RS. As a result there is more weight in your hands and a greater economy of movement as you guide the car through corners. Although the steering doesn’t have quite the liveliness of theGT4’s (this is not a full Motorsport car, remember, so it doesn’t have the 911 GT3 front end that the ultimate Cayman has), the Spyder nonetheless changes direction with increased agility and simply beautiful composure. The extra urge also means it’s easier to unhitch the rear tyres, although the mechanical LSD could lock more aggressively, if we’re being picky.

    With the roof and windows down, the buffeting is more than a zephyr but no stronger than a stiffbreeze, and when you throw in the beautiful six-speed manual complete with stubbier lever, and a soundtrack that has more snap, crackle and pop than a Kellogg’s factory, the driver’s seat is a pretty wonderful place to be. Rather than any single stellar trait, it is more a subtle coalition of small improvements that lifts the Spyder driving experience just above that of the GTS, but overall the Spyder is worthy of its place at the top of the 981 range. At $168,600 it seems like something of a bargain too.

    The fastest, most rewarding Boxster yet - Tall gearing still an Specification issue; feedback trails Cayman GT4’s

    Engine 3800cc flat-six, dohc, 24v
    Power 276kW @ 6700rpm
    Torque 420Nm @ 4750-6000rpm
    0-100km/h 4.5sec (claimed)
    Top speed 290km/h (claimed)
    Weight 1315kg (210kW/tonne)
    Basic price $168,600

    Left: steering wheel is a smaller diameter than the regular Boxster item; manual gearbox is mandatory – there’s no #PDK option. Below: don’t be fooled by the roof buttons – raising or lowering the top is a largely manual affair.

    The Spyder changes direction with simply beautiful composure.
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  • BOXSTER SPYDER FIRST DRIVE #2016 #Porsche-Boxster-Spyder-981 / #Porsche-Boxster-Spyder / #Porsche-Boxster / #Porsche-Boxster-981 / #Porsche-981 / #Porsche / #2015

    We get behind the wheel of the hottest ever Boxster. Can this ‘non-GT’ car rival the Cayman GT4? With the same ingredients as the Cayman GT4, the Spyder is the hottest ever Boxster. We get behind the wheel to see if this ‘non GT’ Porsche offers a genuine GT4 alternative… Story: Andrew Frankel Photography: Porsche

    At around 4750rpm, the engine in the all new Boxster Spyder gives a little snarl. I remember it because it occurred to me that G-series 911 Carreras from the 1980s make a similar noise at almost exactly the same revs. But they mean different things: in the Carrera it was the engine steeling itself for the short sprint to the redline, in the Spyder it’s merely signalling a departure point from where performance that might be recognisable to owners of other Boxsters starts to peter out, and performance no two seat open Porsche has this side of that other Spyder – the 918 – starts to become available.

    The new Boxster Spyder is so fast that on first acquaintance you start to wonder why Porsche has not called it the Boxster GT4 and positioned it as an open companion to the Cayman GT4 whose 911-sourced 3.8-litre motor it shares. It’s an odd choice and I wonder if it had anticipated the rapturous reception the GT4 Cayman received, whether Porsche would have chosen to do it differently. Because here we have two Porsches, open and closed versions of the same cars essentially, with the same engine, same gearbox, same focus of reducing weight and increasing driving pleasure and just £4000 between them in the market place – yet one is accorded full GT status, the other not.

    Some might say this is merely precedent, that the Boxster Spyder of 2009 was not a GT car so neither should this one be. Perhaps Porsche regards ‘Spyder’ as a separate subbrand to ‘GT’ in the same way as BMW refuses to make an ‘M’ version of its new i8, so Porsche wishes not to create brand confusion by mixing the two. But I doubt it: I think Porsche decided that people think of GT cars as hardcore machines for wheel-gripping, wide-eyed diehards and so the Spyder would put off more who secretly just want to be seen in the ultimate convertible Porsche than it would attract road warriors who’d probably buy the structurally stiffer coupé anyway.

    So at its essence, the Spyder is a Boxster with GT4 running gear but in place of the GT4’s sophisticated suspension comes a standard setup with a 20mm lower ride height and sports springing. Despite the additional weight of the engine and that cool double bubble rear cowl, the lighter roof system, carbon bucket seats and the relegation of air-con and infotainment system to the (no cost) options list means total weight saved is 15kg. The 2009 Spyder saved 80kg and, get this, is a massive 115kg lighter than this new version. So while the new car is also 50hp more powerful, if you look at their respective power-toweight ratios you’ll discover the old Spyder offered 251hp per tonne and the new car has 266hp per tonne. Not much progress there.

    One reason Porsche might cite for the Spyder losing rather less weight this time than last is not just the bigger engine – which I’m told is actually hardly any bigger or heavier than the 3.4-litre unit used by Boxsters S and GTS, but because it has a more user friendly roof. Some of you may remember the hood of the original Boxster Spyder was for occasional use only because you’d spend all the intervening time trying to figure out how to raise and lower the thing. More tent than roof, it was a long-winded process even when you’d figured out what to do, and once installed limited your top speed to 124mph because it would blow off if you went faster. In fact, Porsche didn’t programme the car this way, it just told you to keep your speed down, an instruction that at least one British journalist ignored while in Europe in one, with ruinous consequences for the roof and an interesting moment for those following him on the motorway. The new roof is still manual in operation but is sufficiently robust to stay in place even at the car’s 180mph top speed and though quite straight forward to erect or remove it still takes a few minutes.

    The Spyder does, however, look incredible with the hood down. You can see in its design elements of both the 918 and that other quite effective Porsche roadster, the Carrera GT. Those carbon buckets do more than look good and support your body: their thin shells also provide a few extra centimetres of legroom all drivers much over six foot will be grateful to receive. The driving position is perfect, the 918-derived wheel is of ideal size and rim thickness. Press some pedals and move the gear lever before you set off and you will be reminded that no-one thinks harder about matching control weights than Porsche.

    Turn the key and the bark that responds is sharper than you’ll hear in the Cayman GT4, I guess because of the absent roof. For the record I think its 10hp deficit to the Cayman unit even if real is entirely political and is there to ensure the hierarchy that says all Caymans have more power than their feebler Boxster sisters.

    For reasons I’ll not bore you with now, I was a passenger in the car while it was driven on the public road, only taking the wheel myself when we reached Porsche’s test track at Silverstone. And it’s actually not a bad place from which to do at least some of the assessment because as a passenger you are far more sensitive to unwanted body movements than the driver, who at least knows what inputs and therefore likely reactions are about to occur. And the odd thing is that despite being deeply disappointed by the ride of the last Boxster GTS I drove on sport suspension, I thought the Spyder was more than adequately comfortable, especially given the kind of car it is and the fact it is far more likely to be used in a mainly recreational role than a normal Boxster.

    I was interested too to see how much less the driver felt the need to change gear than you might even in a Boxster GTS. Peak power may have risen from 325hp to 370hp over the GTS but there’s far more torque everywhere, the maximum rising from 265lb ft to an altogether more meaningful 324lb ft. This would be very noticeable in any car, but in the Boxster, which has always had far longer gearing than it needs, the difference is transformative in exactly the same way as it is in the Cayman GT4. The gearbox is a pure delight and you might often choose to change down a couple of times just to feel its action and hear the flat-six howl, but you no longer need to; and on give and take roads where sometimes an opportunity to overtake appears but with no time to waste, in the Spyder you can just stretch your leg and feel the car surge forward like no other Boxster before.

    But I really wanted to know what, if anything, it lost to the Cayman GT4 on the track. On paper it seems like nothing: the Cayman has allegedly another 10hp, but also 25 extra kilos to carry. Porsche claimed it will reach 62mph in 4.4sec, the Boxster Spyder in 4.5sec and if that’s a difference you can detect, it is you who should be doing this job and not me.

    Porsche’s test track is quite short but also when you’re absolutely on or over the limit with all the electronics turned off, quite challenging too. It’s a track designed to make Porsches look and feel good, and it does. So wide is the powerband of the Spyder’s new engine that you could probably lap reasonably competitively using just third gear but where would be the fun in that? Without the roof in place you can really hear the engine sing, so naturally you want to give it all the revs in as many gears as you can.

    Soon you’ll find that an optimised Boxster chassis toting a 911 Carrera S powertrain is a pretty potent and memorable combination. One of very few downsides to driving any lesser Boxster is the certain knowledge that it’s capable of handling so much more power than Porsche has put at your disposal, and even now with 370hp the car feels properly exercised, but in no way stretched further than it cares to go. Could it handle over 400hp? Without a doubt. Even as it is, you find the engine capable of exploiting the car’s phenomenal inherent traction like no other Boxster. As ever it will dart into a turn on a trailing throttle but now you can load up the rear tyres with torque at the apex, push through the initial understeer caused by the limited-slip differential and get the car drifting towards the exit. It is simple and highly rewarding.

    All I think it lacks relative to a Cayman GT4 is sheer grip, a little steering feel and ultimate body control, symptomatic of both the Cayman’s stiffer structure and its more highly specified dampers. I’d say the Cayman probably rides better too, but I’d need them together and on the same road to say for sure.

    There are two ways of looking at the Boxster Spyder. The cynic would call it a pulled punch, a car Porsche knows is going to sell and can do so without expensive and highly specialised componentry because Porsche customers really serious about driving will want a closed GT series car. I prefer to look at it as a pragmatic car. It is less extreme than the old Spyder but more accessible as a result. Is it worth the extra over the Cayman GTS? Yes, because of its looks and the engine, but only if you want it as a plaything. As a regular steer, the cheaper, better equipped, more civilised GTS remains the one to have.

    But what it still leaves is space for a proper, no compromise Boxster, a truly stripped out, lightweight, hardcore, road racing driving machine. Only then will we have what Porsche fans have waited a lifetime for: a true successor to the original 550 Spyder. Next year marks the 60th anniversary of it winning the Targa Florio, Porsche’s first outright win in a globally important motor race. What better way to celebrate than that?

    An optimised Boxster chassis toting a 911 Carrera S powertrain is a potent and memorable combination. In the Spyder you can just stretch your leg and feel the car surge forward like no other Boxster before.

    A new robust user-friendly roof features in this Spyder. With it stowed the car’s styling is rather reminiscent of the 918…
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