GTS badge further focuses Boxster’s dynamic sparkle
Purity. It’s an enviable trait, wherever it’s discovered: dustily unearthed from a diamond mine, in the joy of a child’s face on Christmas morning… or from behind the wheel of a Porsche Boxster GTS.
Porsche’s Gran Turismo Sport badge first adorned a rump way back in 1963, when the 904 GTS coupe doubled as registered road car and weekend racer. In the new Boxster GTS, Porsche aims to replicate this feeling, but with some modern luxuries thrown into the mix.
Smoked bi-xenon headlights and tail lights, black exterior badging and darkened 20-inch alloy wheels on the tested example create a sinister ambience to the Boxster GTS that is carried over to the interior, painstakingly trimmed in black leather with high-grip grey alcantara adding further tactility to the seats, their integrated headrests emblazoned with GTS stitching.
Alcantara is also used for the rim of the Boxter GTS’s standard-fit SportDesign three-spoke steering wheel. Eschewing the button-rich bandwagon in favour of clean design, the wheel’s horizontal spokes light up with ‘Sport Plus’ in the left and ‘Launch Control’ in the right when selected.
A glance to the left reveals a centrally-located analogue clock, indicating the presence of Porsche’s Sport Chrono package, standard-fit on the Boxster GTS and signifying the addition of dynamic transmission mounts. Also standard is Porsche Active Suspension Management and the 10mm ride-height drop and adjustable damping programs that system provides. A sports exhaust is also original equipment, and upon turning the key the Boxster GTS immediately makes its presence felt as a result.
The 3.4-litre mid-mounted flat-six is based on the unit found in the Boxster S, though some subtle tweaks to the VarioCam Plus system liberate an additional 11kW and 10Nm. Capable of revving to 7800rpm, the Boxster GTS outputs now sit at 243kW at 6700rpm and 370Nm from 4500-5800rpm.
Although available with a six-speed manual, the tested Boxster GTS is fitted with the cost-optional seven-speed dual-clutch ‘PDK’ transmission. At a time where most self-shift options add a couple of thousand dollars at best, the PDK variant costs $151,790 plus on-road costs, a whopping $6290 more than the manual equivalent.
The PDK ‘box adds 30kg for a total kerb weight of 1375kg, but it’s more efficient (9.0L/100km for the manual versus 8.2L/100km on the combined cycle) and quicker to 100km/h (5.0sec plays 4.9sec, or 4.7sec with PDK launch control activated). Interestingly, the manual posts a 281km/h top-end, against the 279km/h of the PDK. Looking at the ratio spread, the manual is taller between first and sixth, with a shorter final drive. The combination of the PDK’s economy-minded 0.62 seventh gear ratio and its 3.25 (versus 3.89) final drive suggests top speed is reached in sixth.
From the moment the PDK smoothly accepts your throttle input, there’s a sense of superb breeding and intimate engineering knowledge permeating through every aspect of the Boxster GTS driving experience. Where many manufacturers have devalued response and communication in favour of efficiency and technology, this Porsche melds these attributes with a purity of purpose that is inspirational. Yes, the PDK gearbox lacks that final degree of mechanical interaction found with a slick manual (that we know the Boxster’s manual is), but the low and intermediate gearing works far better on Australian roads, and the shifts – both in terms of speed when pressing-on, as well as comfort when not – are always fast and smooth. That it is coupled to a razor-sharp, guttural, fizzing flat-six further enhances the experience.
If you’re comparing the 3.4-litre atmospheric engine’s low-down torque response to, say, a BMW M4’s turbo-fattened six, you might conclude that the Boxster is light-on for torque, but it more than makes up for this with its driveability, detail response and acoustic accompaniment. Flexible and revvy, bursts to 7800rpm are to be savoured, especially with the sports exhaust open and roof down. And we might as well enjoy it while we can, as rumours strengthen regarding a Porsche move to turbocharged four-pots for the next Boxster.
Building on the purity of the mid-mounted six-cylinder experience is the chassis, which in true small Porsche tradition is where the Boxster GTS really shines.
Despite a relative lack of mass over the front wheels the steering is immediately alert as well as accurate. The wheel writhes lightly in your hands, grittily detailing what’s happening at the treads, a rare trait in these days of electrically-assisted steering racks. From that initial surface bite the chassis delivers detail on road surface through driver’s seat and wheel, an unfiltered information stream on how the springs and dampers are managing. It’s a cliché to talk about a car being hard-wired to the driver’s thought processes, but the Boxster GTS does a thorough job of transferring desire to drive. It delivers dynamically, while also riding with a suppleness to embarrass rivals such as the Jaguar FTYPE V6 S… even with the sport chassis mode engaged.
Metering out throttle to delicious response through a tightening third-gear right, the Boxster GTS pivots around its engine location, sticking resolutely on-line as the balance tangibly shifts front-to-rear on corner exit, with composure and grip far beyond the limits of what’s legal (or advisable) on Australian roads. Should you be on the wrong side of the law, the standard four-pot aluminium caliper brakes (to front and rear) quickly and capably haul the Boxster back. Carbon-ceramics are available, as a five-figure option; in reality, there’s little point given the standard system’s competence.
Roof-down and raucous, the Boxster GTS dismisses the almost demure ambience of the standard Boxster. It further hones the roadster’s already-sublime attributes, while adding a lavish dose of brash charisma. When it comes to delivering a pure hit of open-air driving dynamics, there’s not much to touch the Porsche Boxster GTS.
|Specs||2015 Porsche Boxster GTS (PDK)|
|Price||$151,790 (plus on-road costs)|
|Engine||3436cc flat six-cylinder petrol|
|Power||243kW at 6700rpm|
|Torque||370Nm at 4500-5800rpm|
|Power to weight||5.66kg/kW|
|Tyres||235/35/20 (f); 265/35/20 (r)|
- Near-perfect chassis balance
- Engine has increased edge
- How the above two meld
- Expensive options
- Can only bring one mate along
- The Targa Florio circuits are too far away