Swift and sophisticated, the best in breed has just got better
There’s a smattering of smoke and mirrors surrounding this new Porsche Boxster GTS. On the face of it, it’s a new top-of-the-range Boxster and, to prove the point, comes with an additional 15bhp and 10lb ft of torque over the Boxster S, the most expensive Boxster you could buy until now.
It also comes with active engine mounts that allow the engine to move around in corners at low speed, because that can actually aid traction, but barely at all at high speed where mass must be minutely managed. And you might consider all that worth the additional £5840 Porsche is charging, not least because the firm’s options pricing being what it is, you can spend half that on such essentials as sat-nav, metallic paint and a digital radio.
But that’s not all Porsche is providing: the GTS also gets its own style of front and rear bumper, Porsche’s Active Suspension Management system (PASM), sports seats, headlights that look around corners, 20in rims and the Sport Chrono pack as standard too. So even if the thought of no longer owning the top-of-the-range Boxster didn’t persuade you to upgrade your order from an S to a GTS, this additional content should prove irresistible.
So contrary to appearances, the effective Boxster range remains just two cars wide, with an S no-one’s going to buy stuck meaninglessly in the middle.
I’m all in favour of this. I always thought a little more air was needed between the brilliant basic Boxster and its hotter brother, which is precisely what the GTS provides.
Given their similarities beneath the skin, the two Boxsters are now enticingly different propositions. The base car is still the better of the two, especially when you consider its sub-£40,000 price. Indeed, as Porsche’s least expensive car and given the standards it sets in every area of its endeavour, it offers staggeringly good value for money (in relative terms, of course).
But the GTS is now something different, and rather than being simply an engaging and enjoyable tool it is something closer to a proper weapon. It feels quicker than its figures suggest and, with sensible gearing instead of ratios that take you to two thirds of its top speed with half its gears to go, it would be. Sadly, it’s only that way in order to make its fuel consumption look less awful than it really is.
You can use the additional power to challenge the upgraded chassis, but you’ll find it’s still up to the job. Traction remains sufficiently strong for there to be no need to buy the optional limited slip differential, and I’d be concerned about upsetting the car’s natural, neutral inherent balance. I’d avoid the sport suspension, too: it’s tempting because you think it’s free… until you realise you lose both the PASM and the Boxster’s unreasonably fine ride in the process.
What remains is a delight and, with the sole exception of its little sister, quite the best car of its kind in the world. Just to get near it, the new Audi TT will need to be a staggering improvement over its forebear.
Engine: 3.4 litres, 6 cylinders
Power: [email protected]
Torque: 273lb [email protected]
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Top speed: 175mph