Sam Philip07 May 2014

First drive: Porsche Boxster GTS

The quickest Boxster yet, but would you take it over a 911 cabrio? Sam Philip reports

What is it?

Nothing less then the fastest Boxster Porsche has ever built.

Ooh, have they finally turbocharged it?

Nothing quite so dramatic. The GTS is, effectively, a hotted-up Boxster S, with that car's 3.4-litre flat-six bumped by 15bhp and a handful of torques for a total output of 335bhp and 273lb ft. The chassis has been dropped by 10mm and treated to Porsche's full gamut of acronym-laded trickery, while in the visual department there's a new set of 20-inch alloys, plenty of GTS jewellery, and reconfigured air intakes at the front.

So no, this isn't the Boxster's answer to big brother 911's ballistic Turbo and GT3 efforts, but it's hardly tardy. 0-62mph takes a little as 4.7 seconds, with a top speed of 174mph.

Even so...

Don't be disappointed. I'm not sure the GTS's conservatism is such a bad thing. See, the standard Boxster S is such a delicately balanced car, with every facet - ride, engine handling - in such neat harmony, that stuffing it with a load more power could have risked throwing the whole thing out of kilter.

But the GTS feels, unsurprisingly, very much like a Boxster, riding smartly, steering progressively, dispatching corners with ruthless simplicity. I'm not sure there's a more intuitive-driving car on sale today. You're never aware of its mass shifting about, of trying to work out whether there's more grip front or rear, of managing oversteer or understeer. You just stick the GTS into the corner and follow the line you always should have taken, the Boxster gently coaching you on the fastest way round.

OK, it doesn't feel noticeably faster than the standard Boxster S - that power hike, after all, is a mere five per cent. But maybe there's a little more urgency towards the top of the rev range, the GTS's redesigned exhaust chuntering a cheery soundtrack of cracks and pops as you wind the naturally aspirated six out to its 7800rpm redline.

I still want more power.

It's interesting to consider why Porsche didn't go rather further in its GTS overhaul - after all, the Boxster's chassis is more than capable of handling a whole load more grunt. We suspect it might stem from an earnest desire to keep the Boxster from trampling on the toes of the 911.

Consider this. The GTS costs £31,000 less than the base 911 Carrera cabrio, but gives away just 25bhp and 16lb ft in the power stakes while managing the 0-62mph sprint a tenth quicker. True, the 911 has rear seats, but the Boxster, with its decent boots front and rear, is still a properly practical thing. And though the 911 cab is far from shabby, I know which car I'd rather whang down a bendy lane.

So it's a bargain, then?

Well, at £53,000 the GTS is the priciest Boxster you can buy. But look at it another way, and it's a licence to print money. To option a Boxster S to GTS levels would cost some £4,000 more, and you'd still end up with less power. That's right, buying a GTS actually saves you £4k. Which means, according to TG maths, that if you bought 13 of them, you'd save enough for another Boxster GTS and have nearly 200bhp in the bank. Brainmelt.

Even so, there are cheaper ways to go as fast. Merc's A45 AMG - rarely hailed as a budget option - offers some 30 more horsepowers and, of course, four-wheel drive for 10 grand less, while the BMW M235i makes almost identical power and costs around £19,000 less.

But the Boxster is about more than mere numbers. It's the best real-world roadster out there, made just a little sharper. What more could you want? Apart from that upcoming Cayman GTS, of course...

SCORE: 9/10

Engine: 3436cc flat-six, RWD
Power: 325bhp, 273lb ft
Economy: 34.4 mpg, 190 g/km CO2
Performance: 0-62mph in 4.7secs, 174mph
Price: from £52,839

Pictures: James Lipman

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