RAC

Porsche Boxster Spyder

The Porsche Boxster is about as good as roadsters get but could the Boxster Spyder go one better? Steve Walker takes a look.

Preview

Porsche has a back catalogue that could make the Beetles feel inferior and when it wants to add some extra spice to a current model, it certainly isn't averse to wheeling out an evocative name from the past. The 550 Spyder built in 1953 was the first Stuttgart Porsche developed for the race track but released in road-going form. Its success in competition spawned a whole series of Porsche race cars carrying the Spyder name. Now Porsche customers can get a little of that history bundled up in a road car. The Boxster Spyder takes the basic Boxster roadster package and renders it quite a bit more extreme.

Ten Second Review

If less weight, more power and sharper handling sound to you like just what the Porsche Boxster needed, the Boxster Spyder might be just the thing. Referencing the classic 1950's 550 Spyder that James Dean came to grief in, the car's far reaching mechanical upgrades are accompanied by distinctive and more aggressive looks plus a slightly haphazard looking canvas roof.

Background

Porsche says that today's Boxster is the spiritual successor to the 550 Spyder with its mid-mounted engine, low centre of gravity and open-air cockpit. The manufacturer would also point out that the two cars share a lightweight design but the 550 Spyder took its name from its 550kg kerb weight and the modern Boxster tips the scales at more than twice that. At least the Boxster Spyder is designed to be lighter, just without chucking all the creature comforts and safety measures we take for granted these days in the skip.

Driving Experience

The Boxster S is one of the best driver's cars currently on sale and the fact that the Boxster Spyder strips out 80kg of weight, lowers the centre of gravity and boosts the engine's power output by 10bhp bodes extremely well. The 3.4-litre flat-six engine has 320bhp at its disposal in the Spyder and Porsche is offering it with the comically named but mechanically outstanding Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) gearbox. There's a manual option too but the PDK option can swap the cogs quicker, aided by the Launch Control system that comes as part of the standard Sports Chrono Package. The 0-62mph increment in the PDK model occupies just 4.8s. Round about now, you'll be getting the impression that Porsche hasn't settled for half measures with the Boxster Spyder. Its famed engineers have been wielding their spanners under the skin as well, where the suspension has been revised to produce a set-up even more focused on the business of going quickly than that of the Boxster S.

Design and Build

The Boxster Spyder is extremely unlikely to be mistaken for a 'normal' Porsche Boxster. Integral to its distinctive look are the twin bulges on the rear deck just behind the heads of the driver and passenger. It's a design cue that has cropped up on a number of Porsche race cars down the years as well as on the Carrera GT supercar with which the Boxster Spyder shares a long and low silhouette. We're informed that the Boxster Spyder has been "developed first and foremost for driving in the open air" and this is the only obvious aspect of the car that might deter UK buyers. The car's distinctive bulges prevent the fitment of the slick electric folding soft top found on the Boxster and instead there's a lower, lighter but also flimsier canvas canopy. The roof doesn't look particularly wonderful when raised and as soon as the rain abates, most Boxster Spyder owners will take the opportunity to get it down and experience what this car is all about. Porsche advertises the top speed as "166mph - with the roof down" and looking at it, you suspect that by the time you got to 160mph, the roof might be down anyway - possibly fluttering up the autobahn hard shoulder some miles back.

Market and Model

Limited edition versions of the Boxster have carried the Spyder name in the past but Porsche is positioning this car as a full time addition to its mainstream range. It's certainly a more in-depth upgrade on the standard model than we've seen before and the £45,000 price point reflects this. It's quite a step over the £40,000 Boxster S but it's hard to imagine Porsche being too stuck for people willing to pay it. Indeed, when you look at what Audi wants for its TT RS and what the AMG version of the Mercedes SLK is going for, the distinctive and exclusive Boxster Spyder might even have an edge on value for money too.

Cost of Ownership

Porsche has in no way sacrificed its focus on performance and handling at the altar of increased efficiency but it has made some strides in lowering the environmental impact of its products. The Direct Fuel Injection system that feeds the cylinders of the 3.4-litre engine yields enhanced fuel economy as well as performance and we all know that less weight also brings advantages in this area. The 30mpg combined cycle economy of the Boxster Spyder with the PDK gearbox is good going for a 320bhp sportscar.

Summary

The Porsche 550 Spyder is an iconic car in the history of a manufacturer that's come up with more than its quota of automotive icons. Now buyers can get a modern Porsche Boxster that takes its inspiration and its name from the classic. The Boxster Spyder is much more than a mere special edition. A permanent addition to the acclaimed Boxster roadster line-up, its far-reaching modifications bring a reduction in weight and an increase in performance. It's the car's unique looks, however, that will bring most customers knocking. The Boxster has been rightly praised for its ability as an everyday sports car but the novel roof arrangement of the Boxster Spyder will put a dent in that ability. Otherwise, it looks a formidable and highly desirable product. Even the pricing looks attractive next to rival models with similar performance but far less heritage and exclusivity.

The Porsche 550 Spyder is an iconic car in the history of a manufacturer that's come up with more than its quota of automotive icons. Now buyers can get a modern Porsche Boxster that takes its inspiration and its name from the classic. The Boxster Spyder is much more than a mere special edition. A permanent addition to the acclaimed Boxster roadster line-up, its far-reaching modifications bring a reduction in weight and an increase in performance. It's the car's unique looks, however, that will bring most customers knocking. The Boxster has been rightly praised for its ability as an everyday sports car but the novel roof arrangement of the Boxster Spyder will put a dent in that ability. Otherwise, it looks a formidable and highly desirable product. Even the pricing looks attractive next to rival models with similar performance but far less heritage and exclusivity.

The Porsche 550 Spyder is an iconic car in the history of a manufacturer that's come up with more than its quota of automotive icons. Now buyers can get a modern Porsche Boxster that takes its inspiration and its name from the classic. The Boxster Spyder is much more than a mere special edition. A permanent addition to the acclaimed Boxster roadster line-up, its far-reaching modifications bring a reduction in weight and an increase in performance. It's the car's unique looks, however, that will bring most customers knocking. The Boxster S is one of the best driver's cars currently on sale and the fact that the Boxster Spyder strips out 80kg of weight, lowers the centre of gravity and boosts the engine's power output by 10bhp bodes extremely well. The 3.4-litre flat-six engine has 320bhp at its disposal in the Spyder and Porsche is offering it with the comically named but mechanically outstanding Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) gearbox. There's a manual option too but with the Launch Control system that comes as part of the standard Sports Chrono Package ensuring a tidy getaway and with the cogs being swapped in the blink of an eye via the wheel-mounted controls of the PDK, the car will complete the 0-62mph trial in 4.8s. The Boxster Spyder is extremely unlikely to be mistaken for a 'normal' Porsche Boxster. Integral to its distinctive look are the twin bulges on the rear deck just behind the heads of the driver and passenger. It's a design cue that has cropped up on a number of Porsche race cars down the years as well as on the Carrera GT supercar with which the Boxster Spyder shares a long and low silhouette.

Porsche has a back catalogue that could make the Beetles feel inferior and when it wants to add some extra spice to a current model, it certainly isn't averse to wheeling out an evocative name from the past. The 550 Spyder built in 1953 was the first Stuttgart Porsche developed for the race track but released in road-going form. Its success in competition spawned a whole series of Porsche race cars carrying the Spyder name. Now Porsche customers can get a little of that history bundled up in a road car. The Boxster Spyder takes the basic Boxster roadster package and renders it quite a bit more extreme. The Boxster S is one of the best driver's cars currently on sale and the fact that the Boxster Spyder strips out 80kg of weight, lowers the centre of gravity and boosts the engine's power output by 10bhp bodes extremely well. The 3.4-litre flat-six engine has 320bhp at its disposal in the Spyder and Porsche is offering it with the comically named but mechanically outstanding Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) gearbox. There's a manual option too but the PDK option can swap the cogs quicker, aided by the Launch Control system that comes as part of the standard Sports Chrono Package. The 0-62mph increment in the PDK model occupies just 4.8s. The Boxster Spyder is extremely unlikely to be mistaken for a 'normal' Porsche Boxster. Integral to its distinctive look are the twin bulges on the rear deck just behind the heads of the driver and passenger. It's a design cue that has cropped up on a number of Porsche race cars down the years as well as on the Carrera GT supercar with which the Boxster Spyder shares a long and low silhouette. The roof doesn't look particularly wonderful when raised and as soon as the rain abates, most Boxster Spyder owners will take the opportunity to get it down and experience what this car is all about. Limited edition versions of the Boxster have carried the Spyder name in the past but Porsche is positioning this car as a full time addition to its mainstream range. It's certainly a more in-depth upgrade on the standard model than we've seen before and the £45,000 price point reflects this. It's quite a step over the £40,000 Boxster S but it's hard to imagine Porsche being too stuck for people willing to pay it. Indeed, when you look at what Audi wants for its TT RS and what the AMG version of the Mercedes SLK is going for, the distinctive and exclusive Boxster Spyder might even have an edge on value for money too. The Porsche 550 Spyder is an iconic car in the history of a manufacturer that's come up with more than its quota of automotive icons. Now buyers can get a modern Porsche Boxster that takes its inspiration and its name from the classic. The Boxster Spyder is much more than a mere special edition. A permanent addition to the acclaimed Boxster roadster line-up, its far-reaching modifications bring a reduction in weight and an increase in performance. It's the car's unique looks, however, that will bring most customers knocking.

Scores
Performance 10
Handling 10
Comfort 6
Space 6
Styling 8
Build 9
Value 4
Equipment 7
Economy 5
Depreciation 10
Insurance 4
Total 79
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