The Return of the Best Porsche You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
In a press release issued last week, Volkswagen Auto Group announced that it would be launching a whopping “50 new models, successors, and upgrades” across its 12-brand lineup in 2015. While the statement mentioned several cars by name, one was especially noteworthy: the Porsche Boxster Spyder. The previous-generation Spyder was only produced for the 2011-2012 model years, but despite its relative rarity and obscurity, the car quickly earned a reputation as one of the best Porsches of the modern era. In 2010, Car and Driver breathlessly called the Spyder “the best stock handling Porsche, period,” and this new car is expected to be a leaner, lighter, and more powerful version of the already formidable Boxster. If this next-generation car can deliver the same level of performance and thrills its predecessor did, it could quickly become the best Porsche on the road without a “911″ badge on the back.
Porsche revived the Boxster name in 2007 when it built the RS60 Spyder, commemorating its historic victory at the 1960 12 Hours of Sebring race. While that car was limited to just 1,960 units, it proved to be such a success that Porsche began work on a production version. Unveiled at the Los Angeles Motor Show in 2009, the Boxster Spyder was positioned by Porsche as a return to its lightweight, performance-focused and relatively affordable past. The car dispensed with creature comforts like a radio, air conditioning, and convertible top, and replaced the steel hood, engine cover and doors with lightweight aluminum to keep weight down. Overall, the modifications helped the Porsche shed nearly 200 pounds off the Boxster’s already feathery 3,220-pound curb weight. The engine was tuned for slightly more power, and the suspension and aerodynamic upgrades transformed the fun-to-drive Boxster into one of the purest driver’s cars in the world.
With the base-model 2015 Boxster (with a manual transmission) weighing in at only 2,888 pounds, a strict diet and a healthy dose of aluminum should help the fly-weight Spyder more than live up to the lofty standards set by its predecessor.
Introduced in 2012, the current Boxster is an even more focused car than the model the original Spyder was based on, and what a difference five years makes – the current Boxster S has performance numbers that nearly match the original Spyder’s. The performance potential for this new car should be more than enough to make Porsche fans drool.
The new Spyder will slot between the S and speed-focused GTS models. While the S is already capable of a 173 mile per hour top speed from its mid-engined 320 horspower 3.4 liter flat-six, it’s rumored that the Spyder could instead get the larger 3.8 liter engine from the 911 Carrera S, like its mid-engined cousin the Cayman GT4 coupe. Fitting nicely in between the S and GTS, the price should reflect its status as the upper-midrange Boxster, and prices should start around $70,000. For the Spyder, getting less paradoxically costs more, so if buyers want creature comforts that come standard on lesser Boxsters like cup holders, a stereo, air conditioning or a host of other electronic gadgets, expect to pay a premium.
For months, it was rumored that Porsche was working on an entry-level roadster to appeal to the masses. That isn’t going to happen (a more expensive car probably is), but the Spyder can almost be seen as a compromise. At $70,000, the Spyder will be a powerful, lightweight mid-engined sports car with a powerful engine and incredible performance numbers, for far less than a base-model 911. It may not be an easily attainable car for the masses, but its a real-world supercar that can punch well above its weight. The brief life of the original Boxster Spyder marked a memorable moment when Porsche stepped back from its over-engineered present, simplified, and returned to basics. If this new Spyder is anything close to its namesake, it’ll prove that nobody does basics better than Porsche.
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