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New Boxster Raises Game

5 Oct 2004

It takes more than a casual glance at these photographs to realise that this is actually the new Porsche Boxster that goes on sale in the UK from November 27. Both the standard 2.7-litre Boxster and 3.2-litre 'S' (red car in image) arrive simultaneously this time and, despite having similar looks to the outgoing model, Porsche is claiming that the car you see here is 80 per cent new. It's only when you see it in the metal that you realise what a fantastic job Porsche has done in giving the new Boxster a gr

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A look at the nose of the new Boxster reveals that the previous straight line at the top of the front bumper where the headlights, front wings and front boot-lid converged has gone. Now the bonnet extends further beyond the line where the bumper used to start and gains a more rounded profile, reminiscent of the Carrera GT. The previous 'fried egg' headlight units that also cut into the bumper area are redesigned, with the fog/parking light assemblies now sitting at the top of the front air intakes.

At the rear, the break between the tail-lights and bumper has moved from below the lights to a slash-line across the top of them. These subtle but fundamental changes add a certain tension to the design, as does the more pinched-waist look to the flanks which comes as a result of the new wider track and extended wheelarches. The Boxster's distinctive concave curve at the bottom of each door has now gone - in fact, the doors are shared with the 997.

The only visual differences between the two models are that the 'S' has an extra air vent in the front bumper, below the numberplate, and a twin outlet exhaust rather than the single exhaust on the standard model.

Both engines have horsepower hikes, the standard car's rising from 228bhp to 240bhp while the output of the 'S' goes from 260bhp to 280bhp. Consequently there are performance gains, too, with the standard Boxster now running from standstill to 62mph in 6.2sec and topping out at 159mph; the 'S' posts 5.5sec and 167mph.

These gains have come from thorough revisions of the intake and exhaust systems on both cars, beginning with an air cleaner that's 60 per cent more efficient than before.
Then there's a revised plastic intake manifold with an electronically controlled butterfly flap that routes the airflow between the short and long intakes pipes, depending on engine speed. Completing the improved engine breathing is an exhaust system claimed to be 34 per cent freer-flowing than its forebear; it's also lighter and more tuneful.

Weight saving is another of Porsche's achievements - the new car weighs only 20kg more than the outgoing Boxster, even though standard equipment levels are dramatically higher. Hollow hub carriers, re-designed crash structures, greater use of magnesium rather than aluminum alloys, and the aforementioned exhaust system have all contributed to the weight-saving programme.

Porsche has revised the slightly remote-feeling gearchange by making it quicker-acting, with 27 per cent less movement across the gate than before.

Just as on the new 911, it's now possible to have both versions of the Boxster with Porsche's Active Suspension Management (PASM), and the Sports Chrono package that offers a more aggressive driver-selectable engine control map as well as a stopwatch sitting on top of the facia.

Standard equipment now includes air-conditioning, PSM, CD-radio and 17in wheels on the 2.7 Boxster, 18in items on the 'S', which also gets a six-speed gearbox as standard (optional on the base car). The bigger wheels are necessary to allow Porsche to upgrade the brakes with larger cross-drilled discs as standard. Ceramic brakes are an option reserved for the 'S'.

Price rises are surprisingly modest - the standard Boxster is up £630 to £32,320, with the 'S' now £38,720, an increase of £390. Rivals have every reason to be worried, but the changes also have the potential to take the Boxster even closer in ability to the 911. Just how close will become apparent when we get to road-test the new Boxster next month.

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