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2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder First Drive

Drop-top hotness By ,

Kona, Hawaii -- Yes, Hawaii. It certainly isn’t the first place one would think to introduce such a highly focused driver’s car. There are no tracks on the Big Island, and the local law enforcement is known to have unmarked cars -- cops are essentially given an allowance and it’s up to them to buy and outfit their rides for police duty. This might be an issue if you’re into driving above the speed limits. Who does that?

The other niggle is that there are few, very few, roads here to put it plainly. Opening up this roaring roadster was going to be an isolated affair, if at all…

Or was it? OMG, some of the roads east of Waikoloa, Saddle road in the Saddle (between Mauna Kea and Loa) and unmarked “trails” to observatories on a certain volcano transformed what could have been a mundane driving experience. In fact, Porsche’s reasoning for bringing us here was to demonstrate that a car such as the Boxster Spyder can be driven normally and be appreciated. I say: “Yeah, uh huh,” and “Bullocks.”

It is true that despite being the drop-top two-seater equivalent of a scalpel, the Boxster can toot about villages at 15 mph in 2nd gear while making scarcely a noise, but I could also do that in a 15-year-old beat-up Chrysler Sebring convertible. Obviously, when the speed limit rises, I’m more likely to tumble to my death into a crater with the Sebring while the Spyder will send chills down my spine, tickle my ears and erect every last hair on my body…

Thank you Carrera S
The seductive Spyder’s recipe for pleasure is found in the Carrera’s parts bin -- a holy bin.  The best bit is the hyper-awesome (yes, I wrote that) 3.8L H6. Nestled between the cockpit and the trunk, this sexy mill makes 375 horsepower at 6,700 rpm and a delicious 310 lb-ft of torque from 4,750 rpm all the way to 6,000. To it is mated the only available transmission: a 6-SPEED MANUAL! Did I write that loud enough? This ‘box is the same found on a Boxster S and GTS, so we know it’s a good one.

Additional elements include the 911 S’ cross-drilled and vented brakes with 6-piston front and 4-piston rear callipers. Further up the food chain (911 Turbo “up”) is where the Spyder’s electro-mechanical power steering comes from. The suspension is sourced from the GTS’ option list and lowers the car 20mm from the regular Boxster.

Because lightweight
Other important elements to know is that the Spyder tips the scale at 270lbs less than a Carrera S and 66lbs less than the Boxster GTS. This translates into a car that can reach 100km/h in less than 4.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 290km/h. The wheels are lightweight 20” that are as wide as they can possibly be, the suspension’s tuned to perfection… So the Spyder’s lighter than the other two cars, is as powerful or more, and has massive brakes. Are you starting to get the picture? This Boxster has hoisted itself near the top of my all-time best driver’s list.

Hot handling
The breadth of this car’s abilities is uncanny. Some of the portions of the roads we traversed were seemingly designed by a Montreal-sourced paving firm, but the car managed ruts and cracks with impressive ease even if speeds were elevated. On smoother surfaces, the Boxster never relinquished grip. As we got comfortable and confidence grew, momentum increased, and on a few occasions we got a little overzealous. Evidently, nothing happened. The Boxster Spyder hunkered down and extended us supplemental adherence. Seriously, despite pushing the car beyond what I thought was its limits it simply shrugged it off.

The Boxster Spyder is gifted with a mechanical locking differential that works with Porsche’s Torque Vectoring system (PTV). It can increase turn-in and handling overall by mildly braking the inside rear wheel helping the car pivot towards its intended apex.

Mid-engined, PTV, light, large wheels, sport suspension, quick responsive steering: This might be one of the best handling cars in the world.

Whaling flat-6
Getting up to speed is, believe it or not, somewhat uneventful. The flat-6 is so flexible and strong that it never breaks a sweat when rushing towards the red line. And the harder the throttle goes to the floor, well, it really makes no difference. Its sweet spot is just beyond 5,000 rpm where its second wind kicks in -- my oh my! The standard Sport Exhaust is the only hint that things are getting really rowdy. Well, that and the speedometer hitting triple digits in 3rd gear. Yeah, and that’s in miles per hour…

Many of the switchback-covered roads we encountered were manhandled in 3rd gear. The tighter spots such as the crazy out-of-this-world, one-lane magical blacktop we found on day two was severely tight so 2nd was in force. Even in this gear, from a crawl to about eight times that speed, the generous engine and the transmission’s wide gearing made light of it all. Throughout most of that exercise, I had my right foot on the throttle and my left was stabbing at the middle pedal -- what a rush!

Hot model
The 2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder is a tremendous car. It’s also beautiful. Regardless of the landscape, it stood out in all its glory. I dare anyone to find anything physically wrong with the 981 Spyder. Go on, I dare you.

The old car had one minor issue, and it was the roof. It looked smashing on or off, but the activity of installation or removal was painstaking. Not so with the new car. Now, holding the “unlock” button on the keyfob electrically releases the roof, lowers the windows and unlocks the trunk lid. From there, the “fins” are to be detached, folded, and snapped onto the roof frame; the lid goes up, the roof folds in, and the lid goes down. Voila. Very simple, and all in the name of making it lightweight.

Said trunk lid is a piece of art. It features two rear flowing bubbles behind the headrests known as streamliners. They are reminiscent of the ‘60s 718 Spyder -- drool. This Boxster’s front and rear fascia are lifted from the Cayman GT4 for a design that screams performance and power. Not only does the front bumper permit more cooling, but they also contribute in making the Spyder 10mm longer and 11mm lower than the GTS.

Then comes the cabin: Within, the major differences lie in the smaller 360mm steering wheel lifted from the GT4 and a shift lever that is shorter in length, thus limiting the throw. The seats propose multiple adjustments, but the optional fixed-back sport buckets are the only way to go. Oh, and go for the Spyder Classic interior, aka red. One complaint though… I want the old door-pulls back. The new ones are too integrated into the door cards and look like an afterthought.

Buy it now while it’s hot
Base price for this sweet, sweet automobile is $93,700. However, a GT Silver Metallic with the seats, the blacked out headlights, and a few other choice options will increase the price by roughly $15k. Don’t say anything; just do it. Keep the car 20 years and it’ll be worth more then than what you’ll pay for it now.

This car is insanely hot. Magma hot.

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2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder
porsche boxster 2016
2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder
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Photos:M. St-Pierre
2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder