2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder Road Test Review

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Ripping and zipping along a mountain road in the 2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder, I'm easily zigging and zagging in concert with the demands of the string of asphalt's path over the terrain.

In my usual fashion, I started out tentatively, feeding the car into curves gently at first--paying careful attention to the feedback the highly communicative Porsche offered about its relationship with the road. Satisfied the first maneuver was well within its range of capability, I then proceeded to feed it into succeeding corners faster and faster, looking for the point at which the Spyder told me I was approaching the outermost edge of its performance range.

Never found it that day.

The Boxster Spyder kept taking corners faster and faster and faster until I wisely accepted that the lightweight Porsche's abilities unquestionably outweighed anything that was prudent on the street.

To make it deserve the lightweight designation, Porsche's engineers went over the car with the proverbial fine-tooth comb, pulling heaviness out of the car. Switching the power-operated folding top to a clip-on manual affair subtracted 21 kg. Going aluminum with the doors and cargo covers shed another 15. Deleting the air conditioner took out 13. A lighter fuel tank expunged seven. Dropping the audio system and employing a lighter battery shaved another three. And, those lightweight 19-inch tires and wheels ejected another five.

So obsessive about paring weight, they eliminated the hood over the instruments as well as the metal door handles in favor of nylon pulls, the Spyder's engineering team created the lightest roadgoing Boxster ever sold. All told, the Boxster Spyder is 80 kg lighter than its Boxster S sibling.

And yes, it does make a difference.    

Running the engine to its 7200 rpm redline, while bathing luxuriously in that unmistakable flat-six aural signature is absolutely intoxicating. Particularly when you take note of the way the road goes rushing underneath you. After all, with only 1275 kilos to move, the 320-horsepower flat six in the Boxster Spyder is capable of flinging it to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds and on to 160 in 10.3.

The steering wheel operates as if it is wired directly into your synapses. I know it sounds cliché, but you think it and the car really does do it. The suspension system enables the Porsche to take a set at whatever attitude you desire and hold it all the way through a corner. The shifter is so precise and fluid in its travel through its gates you'll find yourself shifting gears every now and then just to feel it in operation.

Every miniscule fluctuation of your right foot seems to translate directly into activity. Throttle response is so linear that heel and toe maneuvers to match revs for downshifts is utterly intuitive. Braking is strong when you need it to be, progressively gradual when you want it to be, and positive all the time. In fact, the Spyder's brake pedal is operated like a dial. You can modulate just the exact amount of retardation needed for the given situation -- and prescribe it precisely at the rate warranted.

In other words, the Porsche Boxster Spyder delivers an intense personal involvement with the act of driving. The sounds blend deliciously with the sensation of acceleration. The handling, informed by the telepathic nature of the steering, which is supplemented by the way all four wheels somehow feed signals directly into the bottom of your seat, almost feels like there's nothing between you and the road.

The Porsche Boxster Spyder delivers the sheer, unalloyed sense of being completely in control of every aspect of the car in a way no other automobile can match, not even its standard Boxster and Cayman siblings. This is the best handling mid-engine Porsche I've ever driven -- with the exception of one, the Carrera GT supercar (which is no longer in production).

It's an absolutely immersive experience.

So, all of that said, you have to believe I'm about to say mortgage your assets, race down to your nearest Porsche dealer and do whatever you have to do to make one of these lightweight Porsche cars your own - right?

Well, not exactly.

As brilliant as the 2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder is, it's also a highly specialized car. The top for example, no matter how practiced you get at it, you'll never match the ease and/or immediacy of use offered by the electrically operated folding version found on a standard Boxster. A/C and an audio system are available as options, but why add weight back into a car you've spent so much money to get because it's lightweight in the first place? Lowering the suspension system by 20mm makes the car look more aggressive, and handle better too. It makes the car ride more firmly as well.

Don't misunderstand me, like all Porsche cars; driving the Boxster Spyder every day is absolutely no problem. But, once stuck in traffic, I did start thinking about what you give up to gain the performance. Day to day, going from here to there, doing the mundane stuff we all have to do in the times between those romantically beautiful mountain runs -- or decimating the competition on track days -- fact is, the Boxster S is better suited and still highly capable of giving you a thrill behind the wheel too.

However, if you already have another car dedicated to your mundane motoring needs and just want something fun, you have to experience the pure adrenalin rush the 2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder provides on those gloriously fantastic perfect occasions.

As the folks in Stuttgart are so fond of saying, there simply is no substitute.

2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder pricing starts at $72,900.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Roadster, Porsche, 2011, Boxster Spyder, $50,000 - $74,999,

Organizations: Porsche

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