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Porsche Boxster Spyder

5:29 AM

Test date 03 December 2009 Price as tested £44,643

Bucket seats and bespoke steering wheel let you know this Porsche is special

What is it?

It’s an otherwise humble Porsche Boxster that’s been given a full-blown performance makeover that’s turned it into a bit of a 911-eater. Meet the new range-topping Boxster, the Spyder.

Porsche has bolted into this car the 315bhp flat six from the current Cayman S; that means it’s got an extra 10bhp and 10lb ft over an ‘S’.

Porsche’s also done a wholesale overhaul of the Boxster S’ chassis; the Spyder’s got stiffer fixed-rate dampers, shorter and stiffer springs, stiffer anti-roll bars and runs more negative wheel camber. And most importantly, by fitting various aluminium body panels, a lighter roof, lighter bucket seats, a smaller fuel tank, a lighter battery, and by stripping out the interior, Porsche has taken 80kg off the Boxster S’ kerbweight for this car.

Porsche’s design department has worked just as hard to give the Spyder some added performance cache. The new rear deck, with its twin cowls, makes it look a bit like a shrunken Carrera GT, while its ‘Porsche’-branded side stripes are redolent of the firm’s late ‘60s 909 Bergspyder racer.

What’s it like?

Settle into the car’s cabin and you do feel like you’ve just got into something akin to a junior 911 GT3; the bucket seats contribute greatly to that impression, as does the alcantara-wrapped steering wheel, gear lever and handbrake, which all come as a packaged-up option.

Still, none of that would matter if this car wasn’t significantly faster and more exciting to drive that a normal Boxster. And while it’s great to report that the Spyder is indeed an altogether more thrilling animal than any of its rangemates, the best news is that it’s still a fantastic road car.

Porsche’s chassis revisions haven’t added any harshness into this car’s dynamic character: they’ve just dialled in better body control, more lateral grip and some sharper responses. That’s mainly because the Spyder’s 19in alloy wheels weigh less than 10kg each. Option Porsche’s carbon-ceramic brakes on this car and you could end up carrying 33 per cent less unsprung mass around on it than you would on a standard Boxster S. And as any chassis engineer will tell you, when you minimise unsprung mass you improve both ride comfort and road-holding.

On the rutted, serpentine backroads of northern California, the Spyder was instantly responsive to both the steering wheel and pedals, and had a wonderfully poised- and agile-feeling chassis. With a limited slip differential as standard, it also had excellent traction and unexpectedly adjustable cornering manners.

It felt genuinely fast, consistently taut and controlled, and yet supple too, and was almost completely free of body shudders and shakes. It could only really have been improved by an engine with a little more power, or at least some real fireworks at high revs.

Should I buy one?

You should certainly think about it. As a pure sports car, the Boxster Spyder’s a cracker; not just one of the most beguiling open options available, but one of the best driver’s cars on the market at any price. Take value for money into account and this is potentially the finest Porsche you can buy. Really.

That tricky-to-fathom fabric roof will make it slightly less usable in the UK than a Cayman S, but no less so than, say, a Lotus Elise. And if these first impressions prove reliable, it’ll be no less brilliantly suited to British roads than the Elise either.

Matt Saunders

First drive data

How much?

  • Price as tested £44,643
  • Price as tested £44,643

How fast?

  • 0-62 mph 5.1 sec
  • Max speed 166 mph

How big?

  • Weight 1275 kg

How thirsty?

  • Combined 29.1 mpg
  • CO2emissions 228 g/km


  • Layout 6 , 3436 cc
  • Max power 315 bhp at 7200 rpm
  • Max torque 273 lb ft at 4750 rpm


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