Still the One

The Boxster S may not be in the headlines, but it remains one of Porsche's best cars.

October 29, 2010

Also from Issue 188

  • 2011 911 Turbo S
  • Exclusive: Singer 911
  • 911E Targa Restored
  • 356B Abarth Carrera
  • Petit Le Mans 2010
  • The first Petit
  • Uwe Gemballa: Porsche tuner missing
  • Buyers Guide: 928
  • Porsche Tractors
  • Collapsible spare tires
  • Buying used first-generation Cayennes
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2011 Boxster S 1
2011 Boxster S 2
2011 Boxster S 3
2011 Boxster S 4
2011 Boxster S 5

While undeniably impressive new Porsche models like the GT2 RS face some very stiff competition — such as Ferrari’s new 458 Italia — the Boxster still quietly rules its class. That’s because the 987-based Boxster bucks an unfortunately all too common truism: As a model line evolves, the various iterations stray from their purity of purpose.

Certainly, today’s Boxster is a far more mature car than the original was 14 years ago, but it’s gotten better and better without sacrificing precision and feedback. Consider, for example, this Boxster S with a back-to-basics six-speed manual rather than the dual-clutch PDK manumatic and iron brake rotors instead of ceramic-composite discs. There isn’t even a PASM button to dilute its simplicity. What’s left is driver, car, and road — all coming together in perfect harmony.

The Boxster S handily serves as a multi-purpose machine, tackling a stop-and-go commute as adroitly as it tears up a back road. Unless you need more than two seats, there’s little to criticize. Its power top is quick and efficient, its interior a treat to be in for long periods. It’s also nice to see Porsche retaining a standard cloth top rather than the heavier, more complex folding hardtops made popular by other manufacturers’ marketing machines.

While the Boxster S is a terrific companion for humming along in the fast lane of L.A.’s 405, opening it up on a stretch of winding road is where it all truly comes together. This Aqua Blue Metallic test car rides on 18-inch alloys shod with 235/40 front and 265/40 rear Michelin Pilot Sport PS2s. The French tires are comfortable on rough surfaces but also provide plenty of grip and predictable characteristics when nearing the limits of grip.

As a whole, the Boxster S feels agile and nimble, like a car smaller than it is. Turn-in is instantaneous, with body roll almost completely banished. The chassis and suspension always feel composed, even when the car is chucked back and forth through a series of tight S-curves. With rock-solid body control comes perfectly weighted steering. There’s enough feedback through the thin-rimmed wheel that you can place the front tires within a hair of where you want them. Handling remains neutral until you’re carrying serious speed into corners, which is when the nose begins to wash out gently with some warning understeer. Out on the road, it’s never a problem, never something that slows your progress.

Speaking of progress, I forgot how fast Boxsters have become. Magazines that bolt testing equipment to cars have been regularly returning sub-4.5-second 0–60 mph runs from this latest S. What’s more, the 987S offers serious grunt all the way across its powerband, and can make use of all its pace, rocketing out of corners with plenty of grip and well-balanced handling.

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