Test-drive #2: 2008 Porsche Boxster
June 19, 2013óAfter some online digging I found a perfect, private-sale 2008 Porsche Boxster. A call was made and an appointment set. Upon my arrival the car sat in the driveway, the sun setting behind it helping to accentuate the overall contour. It was pretty. Unlike the 911, I believe that the Boxster and Cayman are the cars that Porsche should have been building all along. Their engines are located between the wheels, as on every racecar on Earth.
But Iím buying a street car, not a racecar, so maybe Iím just an idiot for constantly harping on this. The Boxsterís owner, Ray, answered the door and came outside. I give it a quick once-over and asked if we could drive it. ďSure!Ē he replied eagerly, in spite of the fact that he wouldn't let it be photographed for this piece. If you read the previous article, then you know that we love the Honda S2000 and are strongly biased in its favor.
However, I wanted to try the Boxster as well, due to its legions of fans and reputation (and Wide Openís fansí votes). The 2.7L flat-six engine barked to life and I adjusted the mirrors and turned the radio, tuned to NPR, off. The interior of this car has always bothered meóthe leather is nice, yes, and the seating position is good but the radio, phone controls and HVAC seem like a 1980ís Sanyo boom-box designer penned them. Itís not that the quality is bad, simply that there are so many buttons and knobs and switches (somehow, still fewer than in the original version). I thought sports cars were supposed to be about the driving experience not a gateway to commanding the Intíl Space Station.
Also, with regard to design, the new Boxster is utterly stunning and has rendered the previous generations dated-looking and slightly dowdy. Whereas the Honda has been frozen in time, a casualty of the automotive financial meltdown. Itís not truly striking but its lines are clean and hence possess a certain timelessness.
Enough nitpicking though, we got on the road and I was immediately impressed by the Boxsterís low-end acceleration. It pulled hard (better than the Honda) from a dead stop, as there was no waiting for VTEC to kick in. Exiting a corner and mashing the gas, we didn't have to downshift from third. Even at 30mph, due to its flatter power band it didn't need constant flogging like the S2000. Flicking the car through Malibuís tight corners and elevation changes it was easy to appreciate the well-sorted chassis. The steering was good, it had solid weight to it and while it didnít feel quite as quick as the S2000ís, it was nevertheless very communicative.
The one area where Honda has the Porsche beaten to hell is the transmission. Which is not to say that the Boxsterís shifter is bad, itís just that the S2000ís is stellar. Also, there is only one transmission offered on the Hondaóa manual. Which means that poseurs need not apply.
Back to the test-drive though; the longer I sat behind the wheel of the Porsche, slicing through mountain roads I was familiar with, the more it became apparent that the Boxster was indeed faster than the S2000. Not by much, mind you, it just clawed out of corners more quickly. I didnít heel-toe the Boxster though, because as mentioned, I didnít need to shift that much. The Boxster revved loudly under acceleration, but it didnít scream. It didnít seem like the engine was trying to shear off of its mounts. Sitting in the Boxster after the drive, looking at the center console with its myriad buttons it became clear that it lacked the Honda's purity of purpose. The Boxster is designed to be a sports car you can drive every day, the S2000 is just designed to be a sports car. Coincidentally, it can be driven every day.
The Boxster certainly has more caché, what with its European crest and larger price tag. Itís also easier to drive it rapidly. But the basic problem is that while the Boxster is a phenomenal sports caróitís unfortunately less entertaining and lacks the S2000's high-revving drama. [kiWO]