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Sugar and spice. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.

Sugar and spice
The facelifted Boxster features new engines, a dual-clutch gearbox and the option of a limited slip differential. Sweet.

   



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| First Drive | Marsala, Sicily | Porsche Boxster S |

At the presentation of the new Boxster there was much talk of Porsche's roadsters' achievements on the historic roads of Sicily in the Targa Florio. For 'historic' read crumbling and water logged, which shouldn't make for a good location in which to launch a two-seat, open-topped car that purports to have road racing blood running through its veins...

In the Metal

As we've come to expect of Porsche, the styling updates to the Boxster are relatively subtle. New lights front and rear utilise LEDs to great effect, while the new front bumper houses larger air intakes. At the rear, the centre-mounted exhaust (twin-exit in the Boxster S, single in the regular Boxster) is flanked by diffuser-style black panels, while the wheel designs are all new. The overall impression is of a more masculine machine and though it's unmistakably still a Porsche Boxster, its lines are tauter.

There are similarly modest interior updates. The infotainment system is all-new - though at its most impressive when you pay for the optional Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system, with its sophisticated touch-screen interface and various connectivity options. The single biggest change to the cockpit comes courtesy of the new PDK twin-clutch gearbox and its unusual steering wheel-mounted buttons - more on that later.

What you get for your Money

Boxster ownership starts at 33,704 in the UK, with the Boxster S retailing at 40,388. Both models come with a new six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while the seven-speed PDK transmission attracts a 1,920 premium. If you're a keen driver then the new mechanical limited slip differential will also be tempting at 737, though most buyers are likely to eschew that for other niceties, such as bi-xenon lights, bigger wheels, heated and ventilated seats and an upgraded stereo and navigation system.

Driving it

Although the Boxster and the Cayman (also recently facelifted) appeal to different buyers and have their own personalities, there's no getting away from the fact that they drive in a similar manner. That's a very good thing. The previous generation Boxster was still at the top of its game, so there wasn't a lot for Porsche to do really. However, the suspension has been tweaked, apparently in the name of comfort, while larger brakes and wheels are also now standard.

We can confirm that the Boxster's chassis is still one of the best in its class. The mid-engined weight distribution ensures delicate balance in virtually all situations, while body control and management of individual wheel movements is nothing short of a phenomenon. It's comfortable too, resisting crashing into ruts and potholes with aplomb, even with the optional Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) in its hardest setting. Throughout this display of impervious competence the Boxster manages to really engage the driver, with chatty steering and a deliciously modulated brake pedal.

As already tested in the 911 and the Cayman S, the twin-clutch gearbox is incredibly impressive in all respects, allowing you to smoothly negotiate stop-start traffic, while taking full control of the gearshifts when you're in the mood. As we've mentioned before, our only reservation is with the layout of the gearchange buttons on the steering wheel. An owner will soon get used to it of course.

Worth Noting

It's a real sign of the times when Porsche's press material focuses as much on economy and emissions as it does on its new sports car's performance and driving experience. The PDK gearbox is the star of this part of the show. Not only does it improve on the old Tiptronic S's fuel economy by up to 15 per cent, the Boxster is actually more economical with it than when fitted with the standard manual. Direct injection has also been applied to the new engines, assisting all versions of the new car to better their predecessors in terms of efficiency. For the record, emissions of carbon dioxide varies between 214g/km (Boxster with PDK) to 223g/km (manual Boxster S), while PDK-equipped Boxsters all surpass 30mpg on the combined cycle.

Summary

Compared to the outgoing model, the new Boxster effectively offers buyers a better car in all respects. Agreed, the enhancements are restrained, but they're mightily effective. In short, the new Boxster is faster than ever, yet more efficient, while retaining its appeal as a car you really want to go out and drive. As for how it dealt with the conditions in Sicily: let's just say that Porsche's reputation is in tact.

Shane O' Donoghue - 30 Jan 2009



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2009 Porsche Boxster specifications: (fitted with PDK and LSD)
Price: 40,388 (add 1,920 for PDK and 737 for LSD).
0-62mph: 5.2 seconds
Top speed: 170mph
Combined economy: 30.1mpg
Emissions: 221g/km
Kerb weight: 1355kg

2009 Porsche Boxster S. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2009 Porsche Boxster S. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2009 Porsche Boxster S. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2009 Porsche Boxster S. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2009 Porsche Boxster S. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.

2009 Porsche Boxster S. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2009 Porsche Boxster S. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2009 Porsche Boxster S. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2009 Porsche Boxster S. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.2009 Porsche Boxster S. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.



2009 Porsche Boxster S. Image by Paddy Comyn.
 

2009 Porsche Boxster S. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2009 Porsche Boxster S. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2009 Porsche Boxster S. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2009 Porsche Boxster S. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 

2009 Porsche Boxster S. Image by Paddy Comyn.
 

2009 Porsche Boxster S. Image by Shane O' Donoghue.
 






 

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