When we first tested Porsche’s Boxster in 1997, we declared it to be what sports cars are all about. And then after driving one as part of our long-term fleet for a year, our affection grew even deeper. Well now Porsche is tempting us once again with an even more alluring Boxster S. Which forces us to ask the question: is this now a thing called love?
Well, we’re not sure if we’re ready to commit to anything as serious as love, but we will admit to a pretty heavy duty case of infatuation! And we’ll also say that after a couple of weeks behind the wheel of the 2000 Porsche Boxster S, more than a few of our staff have already crowned the Boxster S their favorite Porsche yet.
And what’s not to like? For one thing there’s price. Base price on the Boxster S is $50,695. Throw down on a few options, and our tester rings up at $53,527. Certainly not cheap, but a whole lot of bang for the buck.
In fact, earlier this year, the folks at Automobile Magazine put it this way. “An estimated price of $49,000 might sound expensive, but this kind of greatness usually costs a whole lot more.”
Indeed. Porsche’s other drop top, the 911 C2 Cabriolet, which we tested last summer, carried an estimated test price of just over $80,000. Now that’s 30,000 extra jack for a just marginally swifter kick in the pants.
And what about this greatness we speak of? Well, it’s spelled performance with a capital P. And it starts at the rear in the engine bay, which holds a flat-6 now with 3.2 liters of displacement. Both bore and stroke are up. There’s also a new two-stage resonance intake manifold, the proven VarioCam valve timing, and the 911’s heavier-duty crankshaft. And, presiding over the S’ powerplant is the same Motronic ME 7.2 engine management system that governs the 911. It also takes charge of the new E-gas, drive-by-wire throttle.
Mix it all together and what you get is 250 horsepower and a mid-range torque curve to lust for, 225 pound-feet at 4,500 rpm, and should you own a long private road, a 162 mph top speed.
Short bursts of speed are impressive, too. We nailed 60 in a quick 5.5 seconds, or only a half second slower than the 911 C2 Cabriolet, and the quarter mile in 13.9 seconds at 102 mph, while stirring the new, smooth 6-speed manual transmission. A 5-speed Tiptronic S tranny is also available with steering wheel mounted switches for gear changes.
But the performance doesn’t stop there. The MacPherson strut suspension on the Boxster S has been “optimized” with firmer shocks, progressive coil springs all around, and at the rear, longer control arms and larger wheel bearings. All which enhance the Boxster’s already razor-sharp handling characteristics without adding any undue ride harshness.
And let’s not forget the brakes. Porsche brakes are always impressive, and the GT1 race car-inspired monoblock units on the Boxster S are no exception. The large, cross-drilled discs also come from the 911, and brought us down from 60 in a scant 99 feet. The only negative is a rather harsh pedal feel with lots of ABS kick back.
But it’s a trifling complaint that’s quickly forgotten when taking in the Boxster S’ performance attributes, and its classic styling. And while there are visual differences between the Boxster and Boxster S, they are so subtle the uninitiated may not notice them.
In front, there’s a new opening in the center of the grille that feeds a third radiator added to cool a harder working engine. There’s also the S-specific wheels that front the bright red brake calipers, and can be had in either 17 or 18 inch sizes. At the rear the cues are more obvious, from the Boxster S badging to the twin exhaust tips peeking out from under the center of the car.
Changes inside are equally subtle, although it’s hard to miss the Boxster S badge that greets you on the door sill. A 3-spoke telescoping steering wheel replaces the Boxster’s 4-spoke rim, and the S adds light grey faces and aluminum bezels to all three of the Boxster’s now signature overlapping gauges. More bright accents can be found throughout the cabin on the shifter and door and trunk release handles. And with a comprehensive list of options you can make your Boxster S as plain or fancy as you please.
Since it’s pretty clear we do suffer from Porsche Boxster S love, the question remains, is our love blind? Well, not completely. A better sounding standard stereo and heated rear window would make our lover’s leap virtually painless.
So, if you pop the question to us, “Boxster S?” We heartily reply, “Boxster, Yes!!”
Engine: 3.2 Liter 6-Cylinder
Torque: 225 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 5.5 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 13.9 Seconds @ 102 MPH
60-0 MPH: 99 Feet