What is it?
We could hardly be more besotted with the new Porsche Boxster S, a car we’ve already described as one of the world’s most exciting - now it’s time to find out if the smaller-engined, entry-level version deserves the same high regard.
The original Boxster was criticised by some for only producing 204bhp when its water-cooled 2.5-litre flat-six was revealed nestling behind the seats in 1996. Cut to sixteen years later, and Porsche has extracted 261bhp from a downsized 2.7-litre lump directly derived from the 3.4-litre engine found in the S model.
Detailed improvements, including revised pistons, adjusted variable valve timing and a flow-optimised air intake system, combine to produce 10bhp more than the previous 2.9-litre Boxster at slightly higher revs (6700rpm compared to 6400rpm).
Peak torque is also delivered over a broader range - appearing marginally later but staying on song until 6500rpm - even if at 206ft lb it has suffered a negligible 8lb ft decrease over its predecessor.
In return for that modest penalty, Porsche’s return customers can expect to see a marked improvement in efficiency. Thanks to better cooling, automatic stop-start across the range and intelligent battery charging, the standard Boxster’s combined economy improves to 34.5mpg (from 30mpg) with the standard six-speed manual and 36.7mpg with the optional seven-speed PDK driven here.
More impressive is the 29g/km drop in CO2 emissons (34g/km with the auto) which sees the Boxster fall below the 200g/km threshold, and in the PDK’s case, tumble two VED bands in a single stroke.
What’s it like?
It’s not unusual for the less powerful derivatives of performance cars to edge their brawnier counterparts in the satisfaction stakes, if only because more of their potential pace can be wrung out on the road (rather than left frustratingly unused in the box).
There is an element of that sentiment in the standard Boxster. The car is barely any lighter than the S, but it feels a little leaner and revs with almost the same howling enthusiasm. However, Porsche’s immaculate fettling underneath has produced a car of such masterful ability that the 2.7-litre’s lower output barely seems to scratch the dynamic surface.