Although conditions weren’t perfect for testing the adhesive limits of Porsche’s latest open-top 228kW roadster – particularly one they claim will hit 100km/h from a standing start in 5.2 seconds – the new second generation Boxster, was hugely impressive over the treacherous roads of Sicily’s Madonie Region.
While the inclement weather might have quelled any chance of a proper dynamic evaluation, the two-seater felt very confident and reassuring throughout. There’s a familiar connection to every input from the chassis and steering, not to mention that exhaust note which leaves you smiling.
Diehards viewed the previous Boxster as the "girl’s car" or soft option in the Porsche family, but the new generation is more purposeful and more focused, exuding enough surefooted confidence and engaging performance to match the latest Targa or Carrera.
There is no hint of scuttle shake, flex or vibration from the drop top, and torsional rigidity felt almost coupé-like over the weathered Sicilian country lanes.
The main changes to the 2009 model centre on its six-cylinder boxer engine, which grows by 0.2 litres to 2.9 in the Boxster and 3.4 litres in the Boxster S. New intake and exhaust systems, direct fuel injection and a new twin-chamber stainless steel tailpipe have hiked power to188kW on the base version and 228kW on the S. Yet when fitted with the PDK transmission they consume 8.9 l/100 km and
9.2 l/100 km respectively in the combined cycle.
Design changes for anoraks only
Only the more serious Porsche anoraks will notice the visual changes – new front wings, air intakes and headlights (with light emitting diodes) as well as a new diffuser panel at the rear and larger exterior mirrors.
The light, purist design of the 550 Spyder has been retained in the Boxster thanks to a low, sleek silhouette and rounded rear profile. Bi-xenon headlamps (with a daytime light function) are now optional and take the place of the foglamps.
Porsche’s engineers revised the spring and damper rates, and offer as options a wider track (wheel rims up to 12mm wider) on the standard Boxster equipped with 17-inch wheels and a limited-slip differential on the 18- or 19-inch equipped S to enhance traction and stability.
Porsche’s Active Stability Management (PASM), which dials in damping forces according to driver requirements, is optional on both derivatives.
Inside, Porsche’s Communication Management (PCM) system now serves as a central control unit for all audio, navigation and communication features on the car. PCM is now also able to control external audio sources such as an iPod or a USB stick, as well as optional features like Porsche’s new voice entry and electronic logbook.
Both the Boxster derivatives will be available in SA from this month; look out for an in-depth impression in the April issue of topCar.