Revisiting the Boxster Spyder: Still impressive

Revisiting the Boxster Spyder: Still impressive 1
Photo by Pete Stout
Revisiting the Boxster Spyder: Still impressive 6
Closed, the restyled rear section with the twin humps gives the Boxster a less delicate appearance. Photo by Pete Stout
Revisiting the Boxster Spyder: Still impressive 5
The Boxster Spyder does it's best impression of a 917 with its engine compartment open. Unlike said race car, however, raising the rear bodywork on the Spyder reveals a usable trunk. Photo by Pete Stout
Revisiting the Boxster Spyder: Still impressive 3
Instructions are crucial to learning how to operate the top. A small mistake could be the difference between a wet and dry cabin. Photo by Pete Stout
Revisiting the Boxster Spyder: Still impressive 7
In the road test for issue #182 we complained that the sport exhaust wasn't loud enough. Perhaps that car was a RoW car, but this North American Spyder's sport exhaust is plenty loud. Photo by Pete Stout
Revisiting the Boxster Spyder: Still impressive 4
Porsche's idea of lightweight door armrests doesn't mean comfortable lightweight door armrests. The lack of padding had our elbows hurting in no time. Photo by Pete Stout
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Note the taped-off hook for the top's tensioning wire. It's too bad a similar solution could not be applied for the top bow's peg holes at the top of each roll hoop. Photo by Pete Stout
Revisiting the Boxster Spyder: Still impressive 5
The optional painted roll hoop was already showing signs of wear. Photo by Pete Stout
Revisiting the Boxster Spyder: Still impressive 9
Photo by Pete Stout
Revisiting the Boxster Spyder: Still impressive 8
Photo by Pete Stout

While we’ve written about the Spyder at length, an extended drive through British Columbia gave us another opportunity to spend more time in a full-production model.

A few trip notes after 1,200 miles:

—The Spyder still has a lot of emotional pull with us. When we picked up this Carrara White test car from Porsche Cars Canada’s Tony Morrison, it was sitting next to a new Ice Blue Metallic 911 Turbo S. Tony regretted that the Turbo S was already reserved, a regret we did not share — because the weather in Vancouver was perfect and because the Spyder had three pedals versus the Turbo S’s two. While we knew the Turbo S with PDK would be both more comfortable and faster, we also knew which Porsche promised more driving fun…

—The Spyder’s 12-pound top is a beautifully engineered piece — if you take the time to learn how to use it. Get it right and it does a fine job of sealing out wind and, yes, rain. Even real rain. Sure, there’s more wind noise at 70 mph than in a Boxster S. Yes, a few pin pricks of rain water might get onto the roll bar hoops behind you, but they won’t get on you. And, yeah, the Boxster S’s top is far faster and far easier to use. But the Spyder isn’t supposed to be a Boxster S, and we’re very glad it exists as a choice next to the Boxster S.

—Some focus heavily on the Spyder’s top and miss what makes the car truly special: 1) the 174-pound weight loss (offset largely in our test car by the optional A/C, radio, full leather, sport exhaust, etc.) and 2) the sport suspension. And it’s the latter that really sets the car apart from every other 987, and every other new Porsche. The more time we spend in this car, the more sure we are that it is Porsche’s best-handling car in a decade, maybe ever.

—That said, this Spyder felt ever so slightly less sharp than the similarly optioned preproduction car we tested in California. The only obvious difference between the cars: tires. This test car is on Pirellis, while the other Spyder was on Bridgestones. And, if our experience is anything to go by, we prefer the Japanese rubber. It’s not the first time we’ve been impressed by those new N-spec Bridgestones…

—We were wrong about the optional sport exhaust not being loud enough. Perhaps that’s because the test car we drove in California was a RoW model, rather than a North American car (which gets a different, and louder system). This sport exhaust, we like. Order it. We could still use some more intake noise, though.

—The 3.4-liter flat six’s 320 horses are more than enough to have fun in this car. Could the Spyder use more power? Sure, but it doesn’t need it. More intake honk, however, would probably close a lot of the sonic satisfaction gap between this car and, say, a GT3.

—The Boxster’s twin trunks — which are unaffected by the Spyder configuration — swallow a lot of stuff. Like two full-size carry-on suitcases up front. Even so, we moved one of them to the rear trunk to balance the load. That left plenty of space up front for a laptop bag, a large camera bag, jackets, and more. In the rear trunk, we used the roller bag’s telescoping handle to wedge it in so that it wouldn’t shift around on curvy roads. There was still quite a bit of space left. Best of all, everything was hidden when we parked; passersby didn’t know whether the trunks were empty or brimming with expensive personal effects. Try that while touring in a 911.

—The Spyder’s optional painted roll hoops (which look great) benefit from a taped-off section where a hook from the top’s tensioning system is placed, but, up top, the paint around the holes for the top bow’s pegs was already chipping on our test car. A minor niggle? Yes…

—A less minor niggle concerns the Spyder’s “lightweight” door armrests. The current leather directly over hard plastic has bony elbows hurting in no time. And aren’t everyone’s elbows bony? These replace the usual storage compartments with their perfectly padded lids. We can live without the storage bins, but 0.5 ounces of padding would go a long way here.

Did our sore elbows have us wishing we’d bumrushed Tony Morrison and made off with that comfy Ice Blue Turbo S? Not a chance. We simply can’t think of a better sports car for a week’s getaway than this one — so long as you’re willing to make a few sacrifices to maximize your driving experience.

And isn’t that what the spirit of a sport car used to be?

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