Over the last seven days Steve Cropley has got behind the wheel of a Porsche 718 Boxster, been to Donington for a bank holiday gathering, chased a VW dealer over a faulty door on his £50,000 campervan, and scratched his head regarding the price of his Dacia Stepway...
A Porsche 718 Boxster arrives, but a different edition from the kind of road test fodder we usually see. This is a near-standard edition, powered by the ‘basic’ 296bhp 2.0-litre turbo flat four, driving through a dual-clutch gearbox. This engine has proved unpopular with some of the Porsche fraternity, chiefly it seems to me because it’s not a flat six. By any other measure, it’s great. It’s absolutely as quick as you need (0-62mph in 4.9sec; 170mph fl at out), and when you give it the beans, it sounds pretty damned good. Sure, the vaunted 4.0-litre flat-six GTS is a quicker machine, but I doubt it’s significantly faster between here and Edinburgh, while being 40% more expensive. Me, I’d settle for this model and spend the rest on a new garage.
A bigger question loms, however. Exactly how does this basic Porsche sports car compare with the Alpine A110 I’ve just returned, which costs almost the same money? That’s a £50k turbo four as well, and to me it’s a burning question. But I’ve got a whole week to decide.
Forty cars for 40 years: wonderful bank holiday gathering at Donington of after-market turbo machinery developed by legendary Northants fast car firm Turbo Technics and its 80-year-old founder, Geoff Kershaw. TT started life doing turbo kits for Austin Metros and it was behind the wheel of one of these that many of us first learned how much turbocharging could do for an ordinary car. The magic soon spread to machinery like the Peugeot 205 GTi 1.9, the Ford Sierra V6 and even the Jaguar XJ6.
Kershaw, a seasoned racer, came to Donington in a much more recent TT creation, a 600bhp Ford Focus, in which he proceeded to punish pricier entries in the event’s Time Attack series by setting the fastest lap in his class. However, his main focus was on how many of his early cars continue to be hale and hearty. Early turbo conversions could be unreliable, but Kershaw and his team always fought back with superior engineering, and here was evidence that he won the battle.