Perhaps no other models in the Porsche lineup so intensely recall the marque’s legendary 356 Speedster and 550 Spyder as the mid-engine Boxster and Boxster S. These two affordable, open-top, two-seat roadsters give drivers’ confident sure-footed agility and the unequaled exhilaration of top-down high-performance on the world’s most demanding roads.
In 2008 Porsche unveiled the new generation Boxster and Boxster S at the Los Angeles Auto Show as a 2009 model. These second-generation roadsters stand out clearly at first sight through the new, individually designed front and rear panels with even larger halogen headlights plus integrated direction indicators and new LED rear lights. Porsche has provided some updates for 2010, including the addition of the three-spoke Sports steering wheel as a standard feature on all Boxster variants. New options include Dark Blue Metallic exterior paint and a heated steering wheel.
In the Boxster the 2.9-liter ‘basic’ power plant develops 255 horsepower at 7200 rpm (an increase of 10 horsepower over former 2.7-liter engine) and torque is now 214 lb-ft from 4400 to 6000 rpm. Along with the increased displacement comes a compression ratio boost from 11.3:1 to 11.5:1, allowable in part to the new engine’s construction. In addition, the new engine also boasts Porsche’s VarioCam Plus variable valve lift and timing system on both intake and exhaust camshafts.
The Boxster with its standard six-speed manual gearbox accelerates to 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds, while the same car fitted with the new PDK gearbox covers this distance in 5.5 seconds. EPA figures are 19 mpg city/27 mpg highway with a manual gearbox and 20 city/29 highway with the optional PDK gearbox.
Top test track speeds are 163 mph and 162 mph with the six-speed manual and the PDK gearboxes, respectively.
The 3.4-liter engine in the Boxster S, benefiting from Direct Fuel Injection (DFI), now delivers 310 horsepower at 7200 rpm and 266 lb-ft at 4750 rpm.
The Boxster S fitted with the standard six-speed manual accelerates to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds, while the same car with PDK and activated Launch Control in the optional Sports Chrono Package covers the distance in just 4.7 seconds. EPA figures are 19 city/26 highway and 20 city/29 highway for the Boxster S with a manual and PDK gearbox, respectively. Top test track speeds for these two Boxster S versions are 170 and 169 mph.
The 2010 Boxster MSRP is $47,600, while the Boxster S MSRP is $58,000, plus $950 for destination.
A choice of manual transmissions
Again, these Porsche mid-engine sports cars now come equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard equipment. While the gearboxes for the base models and the S versions are similar in design and construction and have reinforced synchromesh rings on all gears, each has gear ratios carefully mated to its optimize the 2.9-liter and 3.4-liter engines’ output and characteristics.
The Boxster can be equipped with Porsche's innovative and blazingly fast seven-speed, double-clutch PDK, transmission as an option. The PDK, like the Tiptronic S automatic transmission it replaces, allows the driver to shift up and down using either steering-wheel mounted gear selectors or the console-mounted lever. Or the driver can simply leave the PDK in automatic mode and allow it to operate totally on its own.
But unlike a traditional automatic transmission with a torque converter, on an extremely simple level PDK is two manual gearboxes combined into one unit. At its crux, the PDK has a sophisticated electronically controlled valve body overseeing the operation of two separate multi-plate wet-clutch packs, each with its own gear set. One clutch activates First, Third, Fifth, Seventh and Reverse, the other acts on Second, Fourth and Sixth
In manual mode, under load, the PDK upshifts sequentially, alternating between odd and even numbered gear sets. During downshifts, however, the PDK can skip gears, even going from Seventh to Second.
For those enthusiast drivers who want even more direct control of the Porsche double-clutch gearbox, Porsche engineers have configured the optional Sports Chrono Package and Sports Chrono Package Plus to provide added performance. At a touch of a button, the PDK’s character changes to a more aggressive set up. Gearshift points are delayed until the upper rev range. The shift times are shorter and the gear changes are sportier. At low rates of deceleration, the system initiates a swifter, brake-induced downshift. In manual mode, gear changes are faster and more dynamic.
Regardless of transmission, these mid-engine sports cars also boast Start-Off Assistant as standard. This feature allows the driver to get moving from a standstill on a hill without rolling backward.
An optional mechanical locking differential for improved traction on uneven or slippery surfaces is available. It works seamlessly with the standard equipment electronic Automatic Brake Differential (ABD) and the standard Porsche Stability Management (PSM) system, to further improve traction on varied surfaces and when driving enthusiastically, especially around curves.
Sure-footed chassis, Porsche Stability Management, and outstanding brakes
Porsche’s mid-engine sports cars ride on fully independent suspensions. For 2010, the suspension tuning has been refined to improve both ride comfort and dynamic response. To maximize both, Porsche engineers specified new tires for the Boxster and Boxster S, with slightly reduced rear tire pressure.
The front and rear suspensions are of Porsche-modified McPherson strut configuration, with trailing links and twin-tube gas-charged dampers. In addition to the standard suspension, the Boxster and Boxster S offer Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) as an option. PASM offers the driver a choice of two basic damper settings, Normal and Sport.
Like all Porsches, the mid-engine sports cars are equipped with enhanced Porsche Stability Management (PSM) as standard equipment. This computerized system relies on data from an assortment of sensors to help maintain the car's intended path as the driver pushes it to edges of its dynamic limits. By comparing speed of the individual wheels, vehicle speed and engine speed, PSM can determine if the car is beginning to slip sideways or that a tire is losing traction and beginning to spin.
Since it is Porsche’s fervent belief that the driver always be in total command of the vehicle, PSM can be switched off. Yet if the situation demands it, PSM will re-activate to help the driver regain control of the vehicle. While PSM can help a driver maintain control, it cannot overcome the laws of physics.
Four-wheel disc antilock brakes are standard on all models. Cross-drilled rotors and four-piston monobloc aluminum calipers are used on all four wheels.
Drivers who desire even greater braking power than standard may opt for Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB). Developed for the extreme use of motorsports, PCCB replaces the standard metal brake rotors with ceramic discs. Besides delivering otherwise unobtainable levels of consistently superb braking performance under repeated heavy use, the ceramic rotors weigh approximately 50 percent less than iron discs.
Multiple wheel and tire choices
The Boxster rides on standard 17-inch light-alloy wheels. The Boxster S comes with 18-inch wheels. Optional on either are 19-inch rims.
The Boxster comes with 7-inch wide front and 8.5-inch wide rear wheels. All tires are Z-rated radials, 205/55 aspect in front and 235/50 in the rear. The Boxster S rides on 8-inch wide front and 9-inch wide rear wheels with standard 235/55ZR front tires and 265/55ZR rear tires
To save 22 lbs. (10 kg) and increase cargo capacity, both Boxster models are equipped with an electric air compressor and emergency tire sealant. There is no spare tire, jack or tire-changing tools.
Porsche’s engineers know that correct inflation pressures are not just critical for safety, but also mandatory for exacting the full measure of a car's dynamics. Therefore all of Porsche’s mid-engine sports cars come equipped with Porsche's Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) as standard equipment.
The Boxster sports car feature hot-galvanized all-steel bodies on a monocoque structures. Their low, lithe bodies have a coefficient of drag of just 0.29 when equipped with manual gearbox, 0.30 with PDK.
Clearly, these agile sports cars look like no other vehicles on the road while and at the same time have a distinct Porsche appearance. Subtle design cues help differentiate them from earlier models. In front, the Boxster’s LED positioning lights and fog lamps are arranged horizontally above the side air intakes. Though the headlamps have the traditional Porsche look, the fog lamps are separate and positioned low and away from the car’s centerline.
In the rear, the taillights and brake lights boast LEDs. This technology improves safety through their instantaneous response time and improved clarity when lit. The light units are broken into three separate elements on each side of the car, with clear demarcation between the elements.
Both Boxsters are available with optional BI-XENON headlights with an integral daytime running light function, dynamic curve lights, headlight washing system and automatic headlight range control.
Lightweight and compact folding top
Unlike other roadsters with manual folding tops, the convertible tops on the Boxster and Boxster S are power operated. And since Porsche engineers fully understand that conditions may warrant closing the top in a hurry, it can be raised or lowered in just 12 seconds even if the car is moving at speeds up to approximately 30 mph.
A wind deflector is available to reduce passenger cabin turbulence during top down driving. A removable aluminum hardtop is also available.
The Boxster is a two-passenger sports car that provides a surprising amount of cargo capacity due to their mid-engine design. The Boxster models have 5.3 cubic feet of space in the front compartment and 4.6 cubic feet of room in the rear trunk.
Customers can still choose among a variety of seating options beyond the standard sports seats, including full or partial leather seats, Adaptive Sport Seats and Porsche’s unique Sports Bucket seats, essentially a racing seat with a folding backrest and a thorax airbag. Porsche now offers seat-ventilation as an option combined with seat heating. What is unique about Porsche seat ventilation solution is that instead of blowing air, they pull moisture away.
Full occupant protection
While Porsche engineers stress the importance of active safety by designing agile vehicles with outstanding brakes to help drivers avoid accidents, they also provide occupants with a safe passenger compartment. All models are equipped with three-point inertia-reel seat belts with belt-latch tensioners and belt-force limiters as well as six airbags.
In addition to two-stage frontal airbags, these mid-engine sports cars feature the Porsche Side Impact Protection (POSIP) system with side-impact airbags mounted in the seatbacks and head-protecting side-impact airbags which deploy from the doors' windowsills.
To protect small children, the passenger seat sensors automatically defeat the passenger front airbags if the sensors detect a lightweight occupant.
Sport Chrono Package Plus
The PDK offers greater performance for the enthusiast driver when utilized with the optional Sport Chrono Package Plus, available as an option on all models. The Sport Chrono Package Plus allows more aggressive control maps for the engine speed limiter, Porsche Stability Management (PSM), Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), as well as the PDK. The feature is activated by pressing a button on the center console. The package also includes a separate stopwatch gauge on top of the instrument panel.
Sights and sounds
In addition to Sport Chrono Package Plus there is a veritable laundry list of options available to allow customers to create their dream cars.
At the head of the list is the enhanced Porsche Communication Management (PCM). For 2010, the PCM has been refined with a larger screen and simplified controls. The color touchscreen is 6.5 inches, and the number of control keys has been reduced by half. The PCM can also be used with external music sources, such as iPods and memory sticks and can provide Bluetooth connectivity for mobile telephones.
For 2010, standard equipment is Porsche’s CDR-30 sound system with a monochromatic display and integral CD and MP3 player. Options include Sirrius XM Satellite radio, Porsche Sound Package Plus with AM/FM radio, CD player and nine loudspeakers, and also a BOSE® Surround Sound System with ten loudspeakers and a seven-channel digital amplifier.
Other options include a navigation system with the PCM, a six-disc CD changer, and Park Assist.