We’ve done a fair few international launches on crankandpiston over the years, but it’s rare that one leaves us feeling so bewildered. That’s certainly not a criticism to any and all manufacturers currently reading this whose jaunts abroad we’ve immensely enjoyed and taken a great deal of insight from. But the recent international launch of the new Porsche Boxster S in Germany has left me scratching my head.
To paint the scene for you, I’m currently outside the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, with an invite from Porsche for the launch of their new Boxster safely nestled in my pocket. And currently I’m at a loss for words at the rainbow array of the aforementioned machines on display. There must be nearly two-dozen of them, from Guards Red to Racing Yellows and Aqua Blue complete with black leather interior.
One that’s particularly caught my eye is the Platinum Silver Boxster S with red leather interior and matching roof and calipers. A bit outlandish true, but at the same time cleverly thought-out and striking. Rather like, now that I think about it, the new Boxster itself.
If we’re being completely honest, Boxsters of old had a tendency to look a bit – how do I say this? – feminine: sleek and stylish, and an excellent demonstration of delicate craftsmanship. But that’s just it: ‘delicate’. This term does not exactly hint that ‘energetic’ or ‘brutish’ will be characteristics of the drive. Let’s not forget that with each passing iteration of the Boxster, the boys and girls in Stuttgart work to significantly improve the formula yet simultaneously not step on the 911’s more powerful toes.
This new generation though is really something else. Certainly the irreplaceable Porsche DNA – or ‘design language’ – is evident, but the curves are more angular than before, and the whole package is somehow more…aggressive. All of a sudden there’s more character. More oomph! Take, for example, the air inlet scoops behind the doors, which are now more imposing than the smaller, more circular ones they replace. There’s the re-designed front bumper, the more elongated/streamlined headlights and the oh-so-subtle inbuilt rear wing between the new LED taillights. Plus 18” alloys. Together they invoke a presence I just had not expected to see on a Boxster. And I like it!
I make a beeline for my Platinum Silver example, slide behind the wheel and fire up the 3.4l Boxer engine before anybody can beat me to it. There’s that tenorous blast, followed by the ‘idling’ exhaust valve burble which always gets the blood pumping. I need only wait for my two-seater travel companion to climb aboard before rolling out with the rest of the convoy.
Since the weather is on our side (for the moment at least), I decide to get the roof down. Despite being assured by Porsche that the Boxster’s roof will both fold and stow at up to 50kph and in around 9s, and I’m keen to see this demonstrated in the flesh.
The speed with which the convertible softtop shoots up and away is quite staggering. Nay, shocking! I end up repeating the process two or three times to make sure this is not a wind-assisted fluke. And it is not! Full marks there then.
The convoy starts to pick up speed as we head out of Stuttgart and towards the spiraling stretches of tarmac through the Black Forest. The opening stint in the Boxster S is done in Comfort mode, and even though there’s been a lot of stop-start traffic, the Boxster does not begrudge the steady pace. There’s no sense of weight or lag as we move away in first or second gear, and that doesn’t mean the occupants are without space. I’ve got plenty of leg and headroom, and okay, there may only be two seats in here, but two fairly sizeable boots – one in the front and one in the back – mean you’ll hardly be left wanting if you disappear for a week-long roadtrip. Even considering the stiff suspension and the ride is incredibly smooth, give or take the occasional bump in the road.
The interior is helping immensely with this too. The steering wheel is devoid of instruments and buttons, and the centre console is delightfully uncomplicated, making the whole system very easy-to-use. The elegant sweep of the centre console I’m particularly enamoured with, the whole unit just tall enough to create little cocoons for my passenger and myself. The whole setup feels very, well, cosey.
That’s not to say though that the interior is free from issue. The air conditioning vents on the dash have been redesigned more ‘artistically’, Porsche hoping the elongated vents will subconsciously break up the flow of the dashboard. In one respect, since I only notice when it’s pointed out to me, this seems to work. In another, I do wonder if it was worth the extra effort. Saying that, this hardly detracts from the overall experience.