Motoring: Road Test - What the doctor ordered

The new Porsche Boxster is the stuff of dreams. With added oomph.

Road Test

Specifications

Porsche Boxster 2.7, pounds 34,232. Engine: mid-mounted 2687cc flat- six with 24 valves. 220bhp at 6400rpm. Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear- wheel drive. Performance: top speed 150mph, 0-60mph in 6.5seconds. Consumption: 25-30mpg.

RIVALS

Alfa Romeo GTV V6 6-speed, pounds 30,000. Great looks, wonderfully strong and vocal engine, sharp handling. Cheaper with 2.0 four-cylinder engine and 5-speed gearbox. Open Spider suffers from the shakes, only available with 2.0 engine.

Audi TT quattro, pounds 29,650. Adventurous four-wheel drive coupe with powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Very quick, striking cabin, great handling - but high-speed stability, subject to recall, questionable.

Honda S2000, pounds 27,995. Inflexible four-cylinder 2.0 engine needs screaming to unleash formidable 237 horsepower. Relax the revs and performance languishes. Has tidy handling and lots of grip; undramatic styling.

Mercedes-Benz SLK, pounds 31,640. Auto-only supercharged coupe with party- trick folding steel roof. Desirable head-turner of great quality, but look elsewhere for serious entertainment. Coming V6 more in keeping with car's character.

Peugeot 406 Coupe V6, pounds 25,995. Able, stunningly elegant four-seater coupe undercuts Boxster by pounds 8,000. Much more room but less entertaining to drive. Cabin too mainstream in design and decor.

DESPITE ITS steep pounds 35,000 price, Porsche's Boxster is surprisingly cheap to run. Unlike most expensive cars, this blue-chip sportster does not plummet in value the moment it leaves the dealer's showroom.Were you to sell up after, say, two years restrained, warranty-covered use, the bottom line would bring tears to the eyes of fleet managers accustomed to the crippling depreciation of ordinary cars.

The good news for would-be owners seeking a "cheap" used Boxster is that there is a brace of new models that just might bring down prices of the less desirable original. But do not bank on it. Boxster residuals are still loaded in the vendor's favour.

Originally, there was just one Boxster: the 204bhp 2.5. That's now gone to the used-car lots, hopefully carrying a "reduced" sticker, to be displaced by a 220bhp 2.7, costing at pounds 34,232 only fractionally more. Backing the new 2.7 is the more highly specified pounds 42,161 S, powered by a 252bhp 3.2- litre engine. Don't be misled by these prices. Although the S includes air conditioning and part-leather seats, there's a long list of wallet- bashing extras to tempt buyers into more outlay.

Both these newcomers - Porsche's answer to intensifying competition from BMW, Honda and Audi, among others - address the only serious criticism levelled at the original 2.5: it wasn't powerful enough. Never mind that it would reach the legal limit in under nine seconds and run to 140mph on unrestricted autobahns: for a Porsche, it lacked oomph.

The new 2.7 is decisively pokier than the outgoing 2.5. It feels more muscular and gutsier, particularly at low revs where the old car languished. Just what the doctor ordered, especially as the Boxster's wonderful poise, balance and grip are unaffected. Chassis, suspension and brakes are all brilliant and can cope with a lot more power yet.

Despite being faster and safer (side airbags are now standard) the 2.7's price is only pounds 237 up on the supplanted 2.5 which, in the heady ranks of the junior supercar league, makes the base Boxster something of a benchmark bargain. I love it. It's one of my favourite cars, a beguiling blend of raw entertainment and comforting civility. Classy funsters come no better than this.

Great though it is, the 162mph S is less convincing. For a start, its extra 32 horsepower is partly offset by an increase in weight, making the premium of more than pounds 8,000 seem steep, even allowing for fettled suspension, bigger rear tyres and a lovely six-speed manual gearbox (five- speed Tiptronic is an option on bothcars). While the hike in performance looks significant on paper, it is evident on the road only when screaming the engine. Water cooling has not unduly muted Porshe's lovely flat-six engine, thank goodness.

Throwing the Boxsters around ex-F1 driver Jonathan Palmer's circuit complex in Bedfordshire revealed sublime active safety that bordered on the preposterous. Both cars, regular and S, displayed outstanding grip, user-friendliness and tireless brakes. Invoke the law of diminishing returns, however, and the 2.7 comes across as the better buy. By the same token, the Boxster S threatens Porsche's rear-engined 911 Carrera Cabriolet with redundancy. Why pay pounds 30,000 more for a car that's only slightly faster and less capable on the corners?

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Voices
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Life and Style
Gold timing: the Apple Watch Edition
tech
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

    £30,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a perso...

    Sheridan Maine: Accounts Payable Clerk

    £21,000 - £24,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a new opportunit...

    Sheridan Maine: Finance Manager

    £55,000 - £65,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accountant with ...

    Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

    £45,000 - £55,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified accountant...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor