What is it?
New, lighter, lower, faster, more efficient Boxster, with a model code of 981. It also looks fantastic.
Lots. The body is 40 per cent more torsionally rigid, the front track is 40mm wider, the rear 18mm wider and the wheelbase is 60mm longer. All this and it weighs 25kg or 35kg (depending whether you pick the manual or PDK options) less than the previous generation Boxster S.
There’s also Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV), which aims to improve traction in conjunction with the mechanical limited-slip diff by selectively braking individual rear wheels. If you get the Sport Chrono Package then you also get dynamic transmission mounts (like the 911’s dynamic engine mounts, but for the transmission as that’s the most rearward lump in the Boxster). There’s also stop/start and electro-mechanical power steering…
What’s it like to drive?
The first thing I’ll say is that our car was fitted with the optional sports exhaust and I implore anyone buying a 981 to fit one. It sounds absolutely fantastic, particularly all the crackling explosions on the overrun at high revs (where the engine is happiest). The other particularly pleasing thing about the spec of our particular car was the manual gearbox in place of (I suspect the more popular) PDK. The six-speed box is an absolute peach (much nicer than the 991’s seven-speed) and its new higher position closer to the steering wheel is the cherry on the extremely sweet-shifting cake.
Even sitting on huge, optional 20-inch rims (19s are standard) the damping is as exemplary as you’d hope for and grip is simply stunning with the whole car displaying perfect mid-engined balance. And so to the steering. No it’s not quite as nice as the old hydraulically assisted system, but it’s breathtakingly accurate and it’s really well weighted, so in all honesty it didn’t once get in the way of my enjoyment of the Boxster. I’d be interested to try it in the wet, but for now I really can’t criticise it.
How does it compare?
It’s still the class leader. Compared to the previous generation car it also looks much more confident and assured, and it certainly no longer deserves to be called the ‘poor man’s Porsche’.
Anything else I should know?
The roof will now furl and unfurl in just nine seconds and it’s all done with just the press of a button (rather than having to secure it manually as you did before). Porsche is also claiming 15 percent improvements in CO2 and fuel economy.