The Porsche Boxster, when I last drove it, was all sunshine and puppies. As in a cheerful car that egged you on, had a laugh or two and generally left a glowing impression. I can now tell you that the new one, the 981 builds on that. The 981 is nearly all-new and the drama begins with the styling.
As usual, Porsche have chosen to refine the design rather than revolutionalise it. The car looks sharper and harder-edged than before thanks to the lines having more definition and strength than ever before. Up front, the visual identify is built on the 917-style vertically stacked head lamp the first time a street Porsche has worn their racecar head lamp design. On the sides, the curvier body is defined by the deep scoop in the door that leads to the intake for the engine which is located as usual forward of the rear axle. And finally, the best bit is the dramatic bootlid spoiler with an active element that rises at speed. The sharp strake stretches from the the tail lamp lens on one side all the way to the other incorporating the indicators on the its lower edge. It makes the car look tremendously purposeful and very distinctive. Also changed is the soft top roof mechanism which folds down now behind the two seats but without a complicated or visually noticeable cover.
Under the hood lies a space for your luggage. Gotcha! The Boxster has storage cubbies under both the front and rear hoods and the engine is hidden from view behind and nearly under the cabin floor. The engines have been updated. Both the base and the S gain 15 per cent in the economy as well as drop 15 per cent CO2 emissions. The base engine displacement drops 187cc but raises power by 10PS while the S engine remains a 3463cc unit, not making 315PS, 5PS up on the old engine. And that latter is the engine coming to India soon. Manual gearbox options are there but India will not get that sweet-shifting transmission. What will get is the ultra-slick, super-quick 7-speed PDK dual clutch.
The chassis is all-new featuring a 60mm longer wheelbase, shorter overhands, a marginally longer body, a tiny bit lower height as well as wider front track. Porsche say the changes allow the driver to feel more in the car and consequently to extract more from the car as well.
Driving around on the autobahns as well as smaller, twistier roads, the Boxster proved impressive. The roof goes up and down very fast and is operable upto 50kmph while moving. This proved handy as summer showers now and then interrupted proceedings. The cabin is quiet with the top up and glorious when the top is down. The engine is always singing that lovely six-cylinder boxer burble and coming on the throttle produces the most marvellous aural and physical sensations. It isn't an amazingly powerful car, but there is enough power and torque to keep you involved and interesting. The chassis's superb grip levels, accuracy and eagerness helps in no small measure either. Steering feedback is good despite the new electro-mechanical power assistance and if no one tells you that what the steering system is using now, I'd be very surprised if you could tell on your own.
The Boxster S is coming to India in a few months time and the price is expected to be around the Rs 50 lakh mark. For the money you will get a practical two-seater sportscar that has the ground clearance, quietness of cabin with the roof up, reliability and appeal to be a good buy even in our sometimes haphazard conditions.
For a full story, pick up the July issue of OVERDRIVE. For the story along with superb videos from the German Black Forest drive, get the OVERDRIVE iPad app - the July issue with all that and more is headed to the iPad very shortly.