21-year-old W Series driver taken on by Williams F1
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£60,459 when new
Another new Porsche? Yes, and if we were being immediately judgemental we might write the Boxster Spyder off as the Californian poser’s Porsche. On the other hand, this is the one that references the beautiful 1953 550 Spyder, while the double bubble - streamliners, in Porsche parlance - behind the headrests is a nod to the 1960s 718 Spyder. Roof off, you’ve got to admit, it’s a serious looker. And how do you get the roof off? By hand. In a world of instant gratification, it’s actually quite refreshing to do a bit of manual labour. In any case, the new Spyder’s roof is almost as ingenious as the one on the latest 911 Targa.
A button on the centre console releases it by the windscreen header, you get out - sorry about that, traffic light show-offs - detach the end ‘fins’ on the rear lid and clip them into little apertures, open the rear lid, stow hood, close cover flaps… It’s easier and faster than it sounds, honest. I’ll take your word for it. Thanks. For some reason, the Spyder instantly feels more special than the regular Boxster. It’s also only available with a six-speed manual gearbox, so it’s a bit like plonking the needle down on a vinyl record as opposed to streaming or wrapping your ears round some horrible compressed MP3 file. We don’t want to wheel out the ‘analogue’ cliche, but Porsche reckons that, following the Cayman GT4 and 911 GT3 RS, 2015 is the year of the ‘rigorous’ Porsche. Is it? Well the Spyder’s certainly got the tools, though it’s worth pointing out that Porsche’s Motorsport arm has had nothing to do with it, and it contains none of their fancy unobtanium. Never mind. Porsche has become adept at mixing and matching different bits from its vast armoury so, like the Cayman GT4, the Spyder uses the 3.8-litre direct injection six-cylinder from the 911 Carrera S. In this guise, it produces 370bhp at 6700rpm, 45 more than the Boxster GTS, and there are 37 more torques at 309lb ft overall. It’ll do 180mph - with the roof up - and accelerate to 62mph in 4.5 seconds. The combined fuel consumption figure is 28.5mpg. Bracing stuff. Has it lost weight? Of course. The Spyder weighs 1315kg, 30 less then the GTS, and if you want air con or an audio system you have to raid the options list (the air con weighs 9kg, fact fans). That swooping rear lid is made of aluminium, and the hood has an unheated polymer rear window. The seats are skinny bucket jobs, there’s less sound insulation, and you open the doors using straps rather than handles. All good for a late-night blast up California’s Highway One, but with the mercury pushing 40 degrees centigrade on our Italian test drive, we’d live with the air con’s extra bulk. What’s it like to drive? It’s fantastic. The Spyder gets Porsche’s ‘Sport Chrono’ package as standard, and has dynamic transmission mounts for extra stability as you fang through a corner. The rear wheels are wider (at 10.5in), it sits 20mm lower, and there’s a mechanical differential and torque vectoring. The fully electric steering is borrowed from the 911 Turbo, and turns in with more intensity than lesser Boxsters. It also brakes with more ferocity: there are 340mm diameter front discs, and the overall set-up is from the 911 Carrera S. It has sublime feel. Is it a proper modern Clubsport? Not quite, depending on your interpretation of that classic Porsche idiom, but it’s pretty hard to fault overall. Nothing sounds like a Porsche and while it doesn’t have the induction roar of a 911, the Boxster Spyder has its own distinctive soundtrack. There’s a fantastic burble and crackle on the over-run from the exhaust, and the engine piles on the revs in a sonorous, addictive flow. You might want to cut that short by changing gear every now and then, because the (shorter) shift action is about as good as it gets. And even on 20-inch rims the Spyder rides beautifully, too. Turn all the electronics off and push really hard and you can unstick it, but it’s so well balanced that any impending waywardness is well flagged up. An Olympic-level nitpicker might possibly suggest that it’s almost too compliant, and could do with being a teensy bit stiffer, but hey, it’s not a track day car. How much does it cost? It’s not a bargain -£60,459 before options. But it’s destined to be a rare car, and if its predecessor is anything to go by, a good investment, too. Porsche only made 2000 of those, and they’re appreciating assets. No word on the production run this time out, but when everyone’s tooling about in automonous EVs in 30 years’ time, and downloading information directly to their cerebrum, this’ll remain a reminder of what a world class driver’s car really feels like.