Ride and Handling
Measured against almost any rival – and even the 911 Carrera – the Boxster feels more agile and fluent. And, yes, we’re talking about the entry-level 2.7-litre car here. The chassis is especially efficient at communicating small but critical dynamic cues. Getting a feel for the point of balance seems almost absurdly easy and natural and immediately inspires huge confidence and traction is outstanding, too.
As you’d expect, the Boxster S is still more gifted and focused. Further enhanced with the optional PASM adaptive dampers and 20-inch rims (19s are standard), body control is exemplary and grip simply stunning, with the whole car displaying perfect mid-engined balance, perhaps helped by the (again optional) limited-slip differential with Porsche Torque Vectoring.
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While the electric steering it isn’t quite as full of subtle feel as the old hydraulic system, it doesn’t significantly dilute enjoyment. You can feel the front tyres biting and then smearing across the road surface as you load them hard into a turn. The steering’s weighting is good too and its accuracy is unquestionable.
The GTS builds on these core qualities, adding yet more dynamic resolve while finessing feedback. Every control is so finely weighted and every response so intuitive that you’re never in any doubt where you have placed the car on the road, or perhaps more importantly, where you want to place the car on the road. Within just a few miles you feel keyed into the car to the extent where you are practising heel-and-toe on every downshift and revelling in the starkly transparent steering feel.
Push harder and GTS really comes into its own. The ratio of 235/35 and 265/35 ZR20 tyres (front/rear) to 325bhp does tend to cap drifting antics in the dry, unless brutally provoked. However, drive to the car’s strengths – low centre of gravity, great balance, exceptional rear grip – an you can cover ground at quite extraordinary speed without ever feeling that the car is teetering on the edge of a large insurance claim. In other words, it can cope with whatever you throw at it.
The Boxster Spyder is the 981 Boxster in its ultimate form, boasting a mildly detuned version of the 3.8-litre engine found in the Cayman GT4 and a 30Kg drop in weight. It boasts a beautifully balanced feel and huge levels of grip. Ride is also exceptional, while clever Porsche torque vectoring systems work well dealing with the increase in performance the bigger engine brings.