As with Harry Truman, the letter’s not taken lightly.
by Bob Storck
SUMMIT POINT, W. Va. - The only problem with the high-performance sports cars available today is that they can only be fully enjoyed on a racetrack. Exercising their speed potential is bound to build a collection of traffic tickets more quickly than junk mail, while exploring their cornering ability will likely result in a trip to explore wild and wonderful parts of the side of the road never envisioned by the engineers.
So here in a remote corner of a remote state, we had the rare opportunity to find the limits of both the driver and the car. Most drivers use about 25 percent of a car's handling capability, and even on the track, experienced auto journalists are only pushing to 85-90 percent. So maybe we’ve come close to the biggest thrill in owning a Boxster S - keeping it in check at the limit.
Porsche doesn't use the S designation lightly. They first used the "S" badge in 1952 for a 356 model with a then larger 1.5-liter engine. Perhaps the most famous Porsche "S" arrived in 1967, the legendary 911S that spawned the performance revolution that took the company from a quirky specialty brand to the racing powerhouse that it is today.
The new S takes the popular Boxster model and wrings even more gusto from it. A bore increase brings the engine to 3.2 liters. With a dual-resonance air intake, VarioCam variable valve timing and an electronic throttle, the S engine produces 250 horsepower (a 25-percent increase) and a strong 225 lb-ft of torque. The engine gets to 85 percent of its peak torque at just 2000 rpm, giving it great acceleration, not as much a bonus in straight-line work as it is in the curves.
The Boxster S also gets the six-speed manual transmission from the 911 Carrera, plus the larger, cross-drilled brake discs from that model, the calipers of which are painted red to become a design element, one that discreet owners may turn their nose to.
With Tiptronic S, Porsche’s spin on the automatic transmission, the driver can place the shift lever into "D" and let the transmission do the shifting or shift into "M" and control gearshifts with steering wheel-mounted thumb switches. During leisurely driving, Tiptronic S will upshift early for best fuel efficiency; quicker stabs at the gas pedal will call up a sporty shift program. Even while in automatic mode, Tiptronic S responds like a manual, downshifting or holding lower gears when cornering and driving on hills.
Alloy wheels, unalloyed fun
The Boxster’s four-wheel independent MacPherson-strut suspension uses front and rear stabilizer bars and dual-tube gas-charged shock absorbers to provide flat cornering. The sporty suspension offers thicker stabilizer bars plus stiffer springs and shock absorber damping than the standard Boxster. Wider wheels and even wider versions on the rear with lower-profile tires contribute to neutral handling. The standard 17" aluminum alloy wheels are complemented by an 18-inch wheel option.
Inside, the Boxster S features unique instrument panel gauges with aluminum-color trim and gray faces. Aluminum-look door handles, shift lever and shifter bezel enhance the classic sportscar appearance. A three-spoke leather-covered steering wheel is mounted in place of the standard model's four-spoke wheel. In the rear, a twin-tailpipe exhaust outlet also sets the Boxster S apart from the standard Boxster, which uses a single oval outlet.
A new standard power convertible roof with headliner lowers in just 12 seconds. It’s a very nice roof, with just one button and one latch. For athletic buyers there is an innovative roof transportation system that attaches to the convertible roof open or closed; it’s suitable for skis, kayaks or bicycles up to 165 pounds. The aluminum hardtop option offers a glass rear window and a defroster.
Boron steel tubing reinforcements inside the windshield header and A-pillars along with supplemental safety bars behind the seats provide rollover protection. The Boxster S comes equipped with dual front airbags and door-mounted side airbags and energy-absorbing door panels.
Beware that the Boxster S is a no-frills car in the base version. Adding leather, power seats, a navigation system, upgraded stereo, traction control, even cruise control will jack up the bottom line. But with the extra 49 horsepower, who’s counting?
Phil Charlwood contributed to this review.
2000 Porsche Boxster S
Engine: 3.2-liter flat six, 250 hp
Transmission: six-speed manual, five-speed Tiptronic S automatic (optional)
Wheelbase: 95.2 in
Length: 171.0 in
Width: 70.1 in
Height: 50.8 in
Weight: 2855 lb (six-speed manual), 2943 lb (Tiptronic automatic)
Fuel economy: 18 city/ 26 hwy (manual), 17 city/24 hwy (automatic)
Major standard equipment:
250-hp flat-six engine
Six-speed manual gearbox
Dual front and side airbags
Automatic climate control with dust/pollen and activated charcoal odor filters
Partial leather-covered seats
Height-adjustable seats with power recliners
Telescoping steering column
Leather-covered three-spoke steering wheel
Leather-covered shift knob, door handles and handbrake lever
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