Far from being a poor man’s 911, the Porsche Boxster is arguably the best all-round sports car in Porsche’s range. It’s the cheapest model to buy and run, has enough performance for most, and offers the added dimension of open-air motoring. So with the introduction of the new range-topping Boxster GTS, has the best just got better?
Climb into the heavily bolstered Sports Seats Plus – which are standard-fit here, but a £1,740 option on the S – and you’re greeted by a cabin enhanced with lashings of extra leather and Alcantara trim. Good start.
Turn the key and the 3.4-litre engine barks into life with even more ferocity than normal: the GTS boasts Porsche’s £1,530 sports exhaust as standard. Pull away and you notice another thing; the ride is deftly supple thanks in part to the standard-fit Porsche Active Suspension Management – normally a £971 extra.
Select Sport mode, though, and the dampers stiffen up, allowing you to fully exploit the Boxster’s sublime mid-engined chassis. And what a chassis; it’s grippy, responsive and agile. The steering is great, too, responding quickly and faithfully to your inputs. The perfect weight distribution makes the car so well balanced that you have to really make a pig’s ear of things to get it out of shape.
To ensure the GTS is even more unflappable, Porsche has added its Sports Chrono package as standard (normally £1,085), with active engine mounts to prevent the motor’s mass moving about too much when braking, accelerating or cornering. However, it’s difficult to feel the benefit of this system on the road.
It’s also hard to detect the 3.4-litre engine’s extra 15bhp over the normal S. We’d defy anyone to discern a real difference between 326bhp and 311bhp in everyday use. Either way, the Boxster GTS accelerates with a ferocity that belies the fact it’s the baby of the Porsche range.
Select the excellent £2,351 PDK box and you also get launch control. This lets the car rocket from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds – faster than a manual 911 Carrera. Really, though, launch control is a gimmick; on the road you’ll probably never use it for fear of launching yourself straight into prison.
And that brings us to the problem with the GTS. Some of its extras are welcome, but others, such as the directional headlamps, don’t really do anything to enhance the driving dynamics or the car’s desirability. This makes it tricky to justify the model’s £5,884 premium over the brilliant S.
For some, the GTS will make sense, especially if you plan to use your Boxster for some track day fun. But you really have to do your maths carefully, because we reckon most people will be better off ignoring the range-topper and speccing up a Boxster S just the way they want it.
However, for those who want the ultimate Boxster, with a dash of added exclusivity though, then look no further.