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Porsche Boxster S review

Porsche's claims its newly facelifted Boxster S is the ultimate soft-top. Read our review to find out if the Boxster really is the best

"Porsche Boxster and Targo Florio. Game on"

Porsche is the most successful manufacturer in the history of Sicily’s Targa Florio road race, taking 11 wins between 1956 and 1973. Legendary racers like Vic Elford and Brian Redman could lap the 44-mile mountain road course at average speeds of over 75mph.

So what better place to come to try out the freshly facelifted Boxster S than the old Targa route, to see if a modern Porsche could still provide plenty of pre-health and safety thrills?

The new Boxster shares many of its updates with the refreshed Porsche Cayman, which we drove last year. So that means the new car gets wider front wings and new Carrera GT-inspired front lights which make the Boxster’s front a lot more butch. Sweepy LED rear lights, which actually have more of an impact than you might expect, make the car’s rear end much more distinctive.

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But as you’d expect with a Porsche, it’s the thoroughly revised 310hp direct injection 3.4-litre flat six that makes the big difference. It’s 15hp more powerful than the old Boxster S’, but it’s also 3.5mpg more efficient too.

Contributing to the new car’s economy is the brilliant PDK gearbox. It’s a fair wedge of cash, costing £1,920 extra, but I can see why around 65 percent of buyers are predicted to tick the box on the options list.

In normal auto mode, the PDK shuffles through its seven gears as quickly as possible, keeping the engine gurgling away at minimum revs on the motorway saving fuel and contributing the to Boxster’s refined cruising ability.

But while the Boxster is comfortable, quiet and compliant on motorways, its satisfyingly heavy and surprisingly direct steering hints at the S’ performance potential. And when I finally join the old Targa route, the Boxster changes from cruising poseur-mobile, to exceptional driver’s car at the touch of a couple of buttons.

With the PDK ’box in manual, and Sport Plus setting engaged to set the dampers to their firmest setting and gearbox to its fastest shift map, the Boxster is totally engaging. The steering has a really organic feel to it, allowing you to judge perfectly how much grip the front wheels have. The brakes allow you to feel the traction available from the road too. And the engine revs freely making a wickedly addictive howl which bounces off the mountain sides.

But the best bit is that my driving abilities are nothing special, yet the Boxster gives you plenty of confidence because you sit so low and close to the centre of gravity, feeling just how brilliantly balanced the Boxster is, and how it moves to your tiniest inputs. Trust me, it’s awesome.

And even when you’ve completed your 44-mile route and resisted the urge to do another, then another Targa lap, the Boxster is just as able to return to pottering along in 7th on the motorway, or driving through town with both of its boots loaded with bags.

OK, the Cayman might be a more complete driver’s car, but with the added dimension of being able to drop the top should the sun ever come out, the Boxster S might just be the best all-rounder Porsche makes. As long as you can afford to tick the PDK, Sport Chrono and LSD boxes on the options list.

Car Specs - Porsche Boxster S with PDK

Engine:3.4-litre flat six, 310hp
0-62mph:5.2 seconds
Top speed:170mph
Economy/emissions:30.1mpg/221g/km CO2
Price/On sale £42,308/February

We rate:
Brilliant to drive
Brilliant noise
Just brilliant

We slate :
PDK interface isn't fun
Options expensive
It's a long drive to Sicily

Rating:

by Tom Phillips

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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