The #2016 #Porsche
Boxster Spyder / #Porsche-Boxster-Spyder
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.