2010 Porsche Boxster Road Test Review

John Birchard - CAP staff
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To get to the Gulf of Bothnia, you hang a left at Stockholm. The Gulf is the northernmost extension of the Baltic Sea and is the setting for Uusikaupunki, described as "a cheerful small Finnish town" and home of the "world-famous homemade donut." Why has Uusikaupunki turned up in a car review? It's also the home of Valmet Automotive, the company under contract with Porsche to assemble Boxsters. Valmet has been producing the two-seat roadster since 1997 for shipment around the world.

For model year 2010, Porsche continues to make incremental changes to the Boxster. The mid-engine sports car received new boxer engines in 2009. This year they are adding the optional Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (known hereafter as PDK), Porsche's new seven-speed double-clutch gearbox, further improving fuel economy and performance. Other updates for 2010 include the three-spoke Sports steering wheel – now standard on all Boxsters.

My Boxster test car was fitted with PDK. Its 2.9-litre engine delivers 255 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque. According to the company, a PDK-equipped unit with activated Launch Control can accelerate from a standstill to 100 km/h in 5.9 seconds (5.7 seconds for PDK models equipped with Sport Plus). Top speed is 263 km/h (163 mph). With a lighter right foot, such a car can produce the EPA equivalent of 11.8 L/100km in the city and 8.1 on the highway.

The company describes the Boxster as "affordable", a relative term. The base Boxster's MSRP is $59,600. A barebones Boxster S can be had for $72,200, plus a destination fee of $1,085. But who's counting? This, after all, is a genuine Porsche open-top sports car under consideration here.

About that PDK: this seven-speed, double clutch transmission allows the driver to shift up and down using either steering wheel-mounted gear selectors or the console-mounted shifter. Or the driver can simply leave the PDK in automatic mode, allowing it to choose its own gears. To perhaps oversimplify, the PDK is two manual gearboxes combined into one unit. It has a sophisticated electronically controlled valve body overseeing the operation of two separate multi-plate wet-clutch packs, each with its own gearset. One clutch activates first, third, fifth, seventh and reverse, while the other acts on second, fourth and sixth.

In manual mode, under load, the PDK upshifts sequentially, alternating between odd and even-numbered gearsets. During downshifts, however, the PDK can skip gears, even going from seventh to second. Porsche describes gear changes with the PDK as "blazingly fast." They're not kidding.

All this go-fast stuff is counterbalanced by the four-wheel disc antilock brakes with cross-drilled rotors and four–piston monobloc aluminum calipers. Those are some powerful brakes. They can haul you down from illegal speeds mighty quickly.

Porsche has refined the independent suspension to produce a blend of ride comfort and handling. You can select Porsche Active Suspension Management as an option, which gives the driver the choice of two basic shock absorber settings, Normal and Sport. The Boxster is also equipped with Porsche Stability Management (PSM), which uses an array of sensors to help maintain the car's intended path as it nears its limits. PSM can be switched off if the driver so chooses.

The convertible top is power operated. In case you run into sudden storms, the top can be raised or lowered in a brief 12 seconds and you can do it while the car is moving, up to around 50 km/h (30 mph). It should come as no surprise that luggage space is in short supply in a Boxster. You have 150 litres (5.3 cubic feet) in the front compartment and another 130 litres (4.6 cubic feet) in the rear trunk. Travel light.

From the moment you switch on the flat six engine you know you're in a machine made for serious fun. No silky silence like that found in a Lexus. You get a real sense of lots of parts in motion... good vibrations, to borrow a Beach Boys title. Moving off slowly from a standstill, the Porsche seems somewhat stiff, but the faster you go the lighter and more eager the car feels. And when you really put your foot into it, the engine seems to shout, "Yes, now you're talkin'." While I'm not partial to using paddles on the steering wheel to shift, I found the manual gearbox(es) to work just fine using the console-mounted shifter. And the automatic-only function of the PDK leaves nothing to be desired.

Despite the Boxster's having been around for more than a dozen years, the roadster shows no signs of advancing age. Everything about it is as crisp as new money. It goes fast. It stops quickly. It makes short work of corners. It has an engine sound like no other. It looks good. It feels good. It even smells good. The prospect of going for a drive in a Boxster makes me smile... even if the drive is to the supermarket for a litre of milk. It's the antithesis of a transportation module. Every motorist who sees driving as more than a boring task should have the opportunity to own one.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Roadster, Porsche, 2010, Boxster, $50,000 - $74,999,

Organizations: Porsche

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