Sunday, April 5, 2015

Porsche’s New Boxster Has Crazy Muscle and Zero Frills

The 21st century hasn’t been especially kind to folks who truly love driving. Yes, automakers have pushed horsepower figures to dizzying heights and found ways to spin carbon fiber and electric motors into astounding machinery. But the real industry trend is away from the human at the wheel.


Pushed by emissions regulations and safety concerns, cars are doing more work and letting us have less fun. The link between the wheel in your hands and the ones on the ground is more digital than mechanical. Forget stick shifts—you’re lucky if you get actual gears instead of a continuously variable transmission. Active safety technologies are leading us into autonomous capability.

Porsche has been going along with this, selling so many luxury (if also sporty) SUVs, Cayenne ought to be Connecticut’s state spice. But it hasn’t given up its heritage of making top-notch sports cars, and this week, it made those who lust after the visceral thrill of driving very happy.

The new mid-engine Boxster Spyder, which just made its world debut at the New York auto show, is all about performance, which means it’s all about weight. It’s so stripped down, there’s no standard air conditioner or radio to distract you from the feel and sound of the road. You’ll have to open and close the roof by hand, because the mechanics of doing it automatically add weight. The interior is blissfully simple, with a smaller-than-usual steering wheel for better control. A nav unit is optional, but you should skip it, get lost, and enjoy the extra time behind the wheel.

Best of all, there is no automatic transmission available. Drivers don’t just get to shift gears by hand; they have to.

All that makes this Boxster the lightest version of the car available today. (Porsche didn’t give an exact figure.) It’s also the most powerful Boxster ever, thanks to a 3.8-liter six-cylinder that produces 375 horsepower, enough to send the two-seater from 0 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and up to 180 mph.

The new Boxster Spyder hits dealer lots in mid-October and will start for $82,100.