Try again, and again, each run carrying more speed into, through and out of the corner and nothing, not even hard braking, truly upsets the chassis’ equilibrium. Yes, you can fine-tune the line via the throttle. Ultimately, though we are certainly travelling faster, I’m left wondering if Boxster Mk2 is quite as enjoyable, as involving, as inspiring as the old car. At least on the 235/35 front and 265/35 rear ZR19 rubber that, through sheer competence, introduces a shade too much understeer. This car, I suspect, is going to be an even better drive on the smaller, standard, 18s. Is the Boxster now too good? Doesn’t stop me pronouncing to photographer Papior that, ‘This is still the sports car in the class.’
From 986 to 987, from first- to second-generation Boxster, this is evolution Porsche-style. Eight years and 140,000 mid-engined roadsters later, here’s a new Boxster that, at first glance, looks little changed over the old, though every exterior panel and even the windscreen is different. Our day together gradually snuffs out the perception that old and new are virtually indistinguishable. It may take a few viewings, but I reckon you’ll go through the same process before reaching the point where the two cars are instantly recognisable.
Porsche’s betting is that its philosophy of evolutionary familiarity will transform the Boxster into a second timeless classic, like the 911. Clearly the new Boxster’s nose borrows heavily from the Carrera GT supercar’s, but there is also a definite hint of Toyota’s mid-engined MR2. Ironic this, for the MR2 was Toyota’s take on the Boxster look. Now you could accuse the Germans of reverse-copying the Japanese.
Haunches pumped up to accommodate the wider track and, for the first time, 19in alloys, mean the new Boxster’s styling is more curvaceous and Coke-bottle in the way the doors (no strange concave curves this time) are well in-board of the higher, hippier, wheelarches. The headlights are moved further back and are more vertical, like the last 911’s, though the lens covers are flatter and the foglights now separate across the upper section of the large front cooling vents. The S also gets a signature, thin central front vent and twin oval exhaust pipes. We like the new look, but just don’t expect non-car oriented friends to notice you’ve swapped 986 for 987.
Though the Boxster is mid-engined and the 911 rear-engined, they are inextricably linked, of course. Back in the early ’90s when Porsche was struggling to survive, the only way Weissach could afford to develop the two ranges was through a policy of component commonality wherever possible. The last 911 and last Boxster shared 38 per cent of their parts. That’s now slipped to under 30 per cent, but includes items like the U-shaped alloy bonnet, the doors (if not their windows) and even the windscreen.
So when one Porsche sports car changes mechanically, inevitably the other follows. The new 911 adopted variable-ratio rack-and-pinion steering, the new Boxster follows suit. Likewise with the optional adaptive damping, four-way adjustable steering column, optional carbonfibre brakes, the new seats, and the lower section of the dashboard, with its massively upgraded electronics for the multi-buttoned, Cayenne-like sat-nav and communications management. All come to the Boxster from the new 911. No bad thing, especially given that the visual divergence between the two is now so much more obvious.Knowing Mercedes planned a 355bhp 5.4-litre V8 version of the new SLK, Porsche has resisted the temptation to become embroiled in an all-out power race, in part because Weissach continues to insist no Boxster variant can match the performance of the base 911; don’t anticipate the arrival of a Boxster Turbo.