|Engine: 3.4L boxer six-cylinder with 320 hp, 273 lb-ft of torque |
Transmission: six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch
Fuel economy: 20/29/23 MPG city, highway, combined with PDK
Price: Roughly $58,000 to $65,000
But for my money, I’d rather drive something that I’m not likely to see someone else driving every time I’m out for a cruise.
Surely there isn’t something from Porsche to fit the criteria, is there? Actually there is: the Porsche Boxster Spyder.
Now I know what you’re thinking. “Isn’t this a used car? “Yes, in fact it’s got to be a Porsche certified pre-owned car so there isn’t exactly a base price to talk about.
But you can probably expect to pay between $58 and $65 grand for one according to Porsche’s current U.S. listings. As you might remember, this car uses the same 3.4-liter flat six as its more common siblings, but tuned to put out 320 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. That’s an increase of 10 hp and seven lb-ft of torque.
These things sold with a six-speed manual or optionally, the seven-speed PDK. Most importantly, Porsche went crazy and cut the curb weight down to just over 2,800 lbs and to put that in perspective with something on the market today, that’s roughly the same as a Scion FR-S.
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By default, the Boxster Spyder comes with a specific suspension that puts it lower to the ground than the Boxster S. You also get 19-inch wheels specific to the Spyder model that contribute to the supermodel diet Porsche prescribed to this car.
Keep in mind that this is a part of the 987 generation, so some pieces – like the front end – might look a little outdated. Except this is where Porsche’s slowly evolving design comes in handy because this thing still has a stylish-looking face. And then there’s the rear end. Porsche owners and passers by all tend to give the Spyder a second look because of its unusual backside.
Instead of a conventional convertible mechanism, you sort of a two-piece canvas canopy that looks nothing like the normal Boxster’s cover.
Peeling it off is a hassle and honestly, the procedure is enough of a pain to give me pause about pulling it down in the first place, but what’s hiding underneath is a real treat because Porsche styled the back end after the Carrera GT supercar.
Much of the weight cut from less fanatic versions of the car is probably attributable to the fact that there isn’t any sort of mechanism to take the top up and down. But it isn’t the only factor at play. Those are legion.
Aluminum body panels, cloth loops instead of door handles along with the aforementioned wheels and suspension components are all meant to draw the weight down. Air conditioning and a stereo were both optional, underscoring Porsche’s remarkable ability to charge more for cars with less.
Some of that stuff was available in no-cost option packages. For example, the car I drove had AC and a radio, but there’s no getting around the fact that this thing is designed to be light first and comfortable second.
For example, the seats are snug on me and I have a 29-inch waist and wear a size 36 blazer…
But even with all the light weighting, the typical Porsche attention to detail is present. Everything feels like it was carefully manufactured. The stitching is precise, and even with a few years on the road this car is holding up well. The plastic housing around the passenger side door pull was starting to come loose, but it’s hard to imagine that being a difficult item to fix.
Seriously Special to Drive
Out on the road you’re going to notice a couple of things right away. The Spyder is pretty loud and there isn’t a lot of space. The door panels and rear hatch cover are both made of thin aluminum and needless to say, sound deadening wasn’t a priority when Porsche went about designing this model.
I drove one with the optional PDK, sport exhaust and Sport Chrono package that unlocks launch control and a 0-60 sprint in 4.6 seconds. For comparison, Porsche says the manual model is 0.3 seconds slower to reach that speed although I would take the acceleration penalty all day to drive this thing as a manual.
Don’t get me wrong, the PDK is great, but it’s almost heart breaking not to have a third pedal in what is otherwise arguably one of the most purist-focused vehicles you can have for this kind of money.
Thankfully, the previous owner also optioned it out with ceramic composite brakes and my God, they are effective. If you stand on the pedal, it feels like each wheel is digging into the ground. After all, the lighter the car, the easier it is to stop.
While 320 hp might not sound like much in a world with cars that – for the same price – will make double that or more, it’s important to remember that straight line acceleration really isn’t the point here. It’s all about handling. And still, at 320 hp, it hardly feels slow. In fact, I would be willing to draw a line in the sand here and say that any more power would be too much for such a small vehicle. Sure it could be more visceral, but sometimes it’s really nice to drive a car that isn’t constantly threatening to disembowel you over a minor indiscretion or two.
As a sort of retro bonus, by stepping back a generation you will also be reverting to hydraulic power steering, of which the attributes are fuel for endless driving enthusiast debate. I personally feel that taking a scorched earth approach to electrically boosted handling is heavy-handed, but you do get an incredibly communicative connection with the wheels in this car.
The Spyder isn’t the most advanced or quickest Boxster you can pick. It’s downright inconvenient at times and you need to be prepared for that. Regardless, it’s really hard to care once you’re actually driving what is one of the coolest, most special cars readily available in a Porsche showroom.