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.
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.
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.
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.