Over the last year, the Boxster S has been living in our stable of long-term cars, and it's been like owning a powerful, well-mannered thoroughbred. It never tried to kill me despite occasional asinine behavior behind its wheel. I'd watch people pass the S in the parking lot, pause, and then take a close look at the beast. A few went so far as to stroke its muscular flanks, bend down and admire its massive running gear and brakes, marvel at its proportions. I watched from afar, like a nervous parent waiting for someone to cause it distress. Thank god it never happened, because my wrath would have been terrible (I believe hell has a special place for people who vandalize cars).
Despite its formidable potential, the Boxster S loves everyone, no matter how unversed or scared they might be of powerful sports cars. Take a turn too hot, and the Boxster S will do everything in its power to get back on course. Its blessed neutrality has saved more than a few drivers who got in way over their heads. And those brakes are powerful enough to make time stand still. In fact, I think the binders may be too good, a lesson learned when I attempted to "thread the needle" between two big rigs. Unfortunately, a big bag of cement loomed directly in my path. I know the Boxster S could have stopped, but the folks behind me didn't stand a chance--we would have piled up like a group of amorous beetles. I had no choice but to center punch the 90-lb object and rip off the front airdam and a radiator. Two weeks and $3,800 later, the Boxster S was back in service and good as new.
From a reliability standpoint, the S has been damn near perfect. It's certainly less fussy than our first Boxster, which would show assorted fault codes and warning lights for no apparent reason. The S cabin has withstood the abuse of many different occupants, every switch, button, leather-covered surface and the automatic double-insulated top still perfect. There's not a single blemish or squeak to be found aside from a rattle in the driver's door when the window is down. From a build standpoint, the Boxster S is perhaps the best roadster in North America, maybe the world.
We have had a few problems: The smell of burning oil signified a rear main seal leak, a defect the crew at McKenna Porsche Audi in Norwalk, Calif., found within a few minutes. As part of McKenna's customer service, it sent a flatbed to pick up the car and then dropped it off when the work was complete. The folks at McKenna are a class act--very professional, competent and courteous. McKenna fixed the defect in 12 hours, fully covered through Porsche's 3-year warranty, and the car returned washed, gassed and virtually hermetically sealed for protection. We plan to have McKenna service all our German cars.
One of the common gripes about Boxsters is the lack of cupholders--and I'm not talking about those lame excuses attached to the side vents. Come on, guys...just one holder. Would that take away from the Boxster's sporting spirit? I think not. The radio controls also came in for criticism. The controls are cryptic, and every time you punch in a command, there's a pause. Another negative has been tire wear. Despite our using the best names in rubber, the Boxster S burned through 'em on a regular basis. I suppose that's one of the prices one pays for high performance. My last bitch is with the headlamps, which are inadequate for a car as fast as the S. More than once I've over-driven the forward lighting, an unnerving experience. The European-spec Litronic units are brilliant--Performance Products put a set on my own Project Boxster, and the results are far superior to the stock units.
In an effort to save the factory running gear, we switched from 18-in. Porsche wheels to 18-in. ATS wheels. Porsche chose ATS as an O.E. wheel supplier for the first 930. We also got a set of BFG's KD tires, and they did not disappoint. The KDs are a near perfect mixture of compound and tread design that magically transforms them into quiet, sticky monsters. During the McMullenArgus/BFGoodrich G-Force games, a track event that drew highly modified cars from sister publications Sport Compact Car, Turbo, Import Tuner and VW Trends, test driver Rhys Millen commented that the Boxster S could most likely kick the crap out of everything there--Supras, Integras, a Subaru WRX, RS Escort Cosworth, RX-7...everything. And that was just after a few warm-up laps in our box-stock Boxster S. "Look, mate, this car is bloody wonderful," said Rhys. "Why the hell is it parked in the garage then, eh?"
We've had the S up to 162 mph, and it's maintained a rock-solid stance. The double-insulated top does a great job eliminating wind noise, and even with the top down it's a comfortable cruiser.
As a long-distance touring car, the Boxster S is near perfect. The wizards at Weissach have managed to build a sport suspension (an option including more stiffly tuned springs, shocks, and spring plates) that is supremely comfortable on long stretches and yet fully capable of handling irregularities that would shake lesser cars to bits. And this is with the optional 18-in. wheels and 225/40ZR-18 and 265/35ZR-18 tires.
The six-speed manual and its 3.44:1 final drive is well suited to the 250-bhp engine. Let the revs fly to 7200 rpm, and the Boxster snatches the next gear with tire-chirping upshifts. There is a small amount of play in the shifter, but I think it's there for a reason--it's very easy to become enraptured in the song of the flat six and forget where the next gear is.
The Boxster S is a true thoroughbred sports car, and it is with great sadness that we plan on giving it up. Porsche handlers will soon come to collect it, and although I have embarked on my own Project Boxster, the S and its superior gene will be a tough act to follow.