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Review

Review: Porsche Boxter S

Review: Porsche Boxter S

Even on the worst backroads Germany’s Black Forest has to offer this new model delivers power in ways that constantly impress. (Porsche Cars North America)

Let's cut to the chase; new Boxster is very, very good. We've been testing the car across Germany for a couple of days and even on the worst backroads the Black Forest has to offer, and it manages to suck up bumps and deliver its power in way that constantly impresses.

It's incredibly grown-up, acting like a big car when it really shouldn't, flipping modes into a fun little roadster when it gets twistier. The suspension really is a bit of a wonder, and the engine in this S revving steplessly sweetly right up to the 7,800rpm - making for many happy faces in the cockpit. It stops on a short dime, using carbon brakes nicked direct from the new 911. Seriously, it'll uncrease your face when you really try. And driven properly you can pick up some serious pace. It's a very, very comforting car to go fast in. Sorry, kind of spoiled the ending there, but you get the idea: new Boxster is better than old Boxster, and old Boxster wasn't half bad.

It comes in two guises, straight Boxster with a 2.7, 265bhp and 207lb ft of torque, or as this S with a 3.4, 315bhp and 266lb ft. The basic format is the same; fabric roof, two-seat roadster with a mid-mounted flat-six and rear wheel drive. The standard transmission is a six-speed manual, with the optional PDK weighing in at £1,922. The roof operates in just 9 seconds, is one-touch, good-looking up or down and insulated up to its eyeballs, so it feel as good as a tin-top on the motorway or pootling around the countryside. The super light magnesium frame that forms the top section now acts as the ‘lid' when folded, so there's no separate covering section - saving a 12kgs of weight and visually lengthening the profile in the process; the back of the Boxster now looks a bit less... porky, roof down.

The styling is sharper, neater and not at all like a Toyota MR2 MkIII in the metal. There are new headlights, front end, side intakes and clipped rear end with a Carrera GT-ish ridgeline running through the rear lamps and around the bodywork, neatly hiding a pop-up rear spoiler. It's longer in the wheelbase, but with a shaved front overhang that stops it looking bigger, and there's a tautness to the design – especially in darker colours – that makes it look solid but deft. Wheels are big: standard Boxster comes with 18s, the S has 19s and there are even optional 20s (huge).

The body itself is made from a fairly conservative mix of steel and alloy, but the doors, bonnet and rear luggage compartment lid are all wrought from unalloyed aluminium. Despite more kit, the Boxster S actually weighs some 30kg less than the old version, even with the heavy PDK ‘box.

Ah yes. The PDK. The Boxster S we've been driving has absolutely every option on it.: PDK, PASM, PTV, PCCB, PSM, and Sport Chrono. Adjustable suspension, active engine mounts (previously only seen in the 911), torque-vectoring, intelligent traction control and stability. The PDK is brilliant but a little overwhelming - a great auto, fun when going fast, but a bit uninvolving when you want to really drive the little roadster. Similarly, the new electro-mechanical steering is pin-sharp, accurate and just a little numb. None of this stuff is bad as such, it just feels very mature, much more like you'd expect in a bigger car (like a 911, plucking a Thing From Nowhere). All of which makes for a measurably ‘better' car (more refinement, more efficiency), but just edges the Boxster up a class and away from simple roadster fun.

So it's brilliant, the new Boxster. Still best in class and massively satisfying. But there's a sneaking feeling that a 2.7 Boxster with the standard 6-speed manual might be the more intuitive – and immediately easier to fall for – car. I've just got to get my hands on one to let you know.

So it's brilliant, the new Boxster. Still best in class and massively satisfying. — Tom Ford