Porsche's second-generation Boxster, unveiled last week at the Paris auto show, is an evolutionary design that is still recognizably a Boxster, yet it has more power, bigger brakes and better handling.
The first Boxster came out eight years ago. Roughly 80 percent of the new car's components are new.
Performance, the thing Porsche buyers want most of all, is the area of primary focus. The 2.7-liter, midship-mounted flat six now has 240 horsepower, an increase of 12. The Boxster S has a 3.2-liter engine whose output has been bumped from 260 to 280 horsepower. Accelerating to 62 miles per hour, or 100 kilometers per hour, takes 6.2 seconds for the standard model and 5.5 for the S.
The base Boxster's five-speed gearbox has a tighter shift linkage, while the Boxster S comes with a six-speed. The six-speed is also available as an option on the regular car as part of an active suspension package. Porsche generally makes subtle styling changes, and while the Boxster looks new, it maintains a strong family resemblance to the original. The front bumper has larger air intakes and new headlights. Larger wheels dictated more pronounced fenders.
The track has been widened by an inch or more. Seventeen-inch wheels are standard, and the S now has 18-inchers.
Porsche's active suspension management option enables the driver to choose different suspension settings at the touch of a button. The result is a car that is comfortable on the street, yet the suspension can be stiffened up for track use.
The suspension is not the only thing that can be changed with a button. The Sports Chrono Package lets the driver select different engine control settings for even more aggressive performance. A stopwatch is built into the instrument panel for checking times on a racetrack.
Porsche engineers tweaked the car's aerodynamics to give the Boxster greater stability at high speed. The tail has a retractable spoiler. Aerodynamic drag has been lessened on both the Boxster and the S model.
The rack and pinion steering now has a variable ratio, making the steering more sensitive at high speeds and less sensitive at low speeds. The steering wheel now tilts and telescopes.
Porsches have always had excellent brakes. The ventilated and cross-drilled discs are even more powerful. The Boxster S gets slightly larger front discs.
The Boxster is available for the first time with optional ceramic composite brakes. Porsche claims the ceramic composite discs are larger, yet lighter, and subject to far less wear. Plus, they should be more effective.
Porsche's vehicle stability program is standard.
The interior is designed to be more ergonomic. Leather and aluminum are used in combination, and four different seats are offered. Aside from the standard seats, other choices include leather sport seats, electrically adjustable seats and adaptive sport seats with adjustable side supports.
Side and head-protection airbags are standard. The head-protection bag, unique for a roadster, comes out of the doorsill.
Power windows, a CD radio, air conditioning, an on-board computer and central locking are standard. A navigation system with steering-wheel controls is also optional, as is a Bose surround-sound system with 11 speakers.
Porsche has not announced prices of the new Boxster that goes on sale after the first of the year.
Engine: 2.7-liter, 240-hp 6-cyl.
3.2-liter, 280-hp 6-cyl.
Transmission: Five-speed or six-speed
Wheelbase: 95.1 inches
Curb weight: 2,855 to 2,965 lbs.
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