Specifications prices Modifications and Image 2011 Porsche Boxster
The 2011 Porsche Boxster ranks 4 out of 8 Luxury Sports Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of 87 published reviews and test drives of the Porsche Boxster, and our analysis of reliability and safety data.
The automotive press has always considered the Porsche Boxster a great sports car, but after test driving the new 2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder, reviewers are floored. They say it’s one of the best luxury sports cars they’ve driven in a while.
The Porsche Boxster has always been a favorite -- it’s luxurious, powerful and the perfect companion on the race track. With the introduction of the 2011 Boxster Spyder, Porsche has revolutionized the Boxster lineup.
In comparison to the Boxster and Boxster S, the Spyder is a completely different animal. It produces 320 horsepower, 65 more than the base model and dropped 176 pounds by loosing basic amenities like air conditioning, a radio and cloth bucket seats. Why did this Boxster undergo such a strenuous weight loss program? Porsche wanted to make it faster and more agile. After test driving the Spyder, reviewers say it’s more than agile -- it’s one of the best handling sports cars on the market.
The Boxster's interior boasts premium materials and proper sports car seating, particularly if you ante up for the optional full-power seats. The oversized center-mounted tachometer conveys the Boxster's high-performance DNA, although the analog speedometer's tiny numbers and huge range make it more decorative than functional -- the trip computer's digital speedo readout is more useful. Some controls are a bit fussy, but the current center control stack is much friendlier than those in past Porsches. The base stereo's sound quality is laughable, but the optional systems are worthy upgrades.
The optional wind deflector mitigates buffeting at speed with the top down, but top-up motoring is marred by excessive wind noise and gigantic blind spots. While the Boxster's soft top keeps weight and complexity down, its competitors' retractable hardtops are far more pleasant to live with. Unlike the spacious BMW Z4, the Boxster's cabin is merely average for a roadster, meaning taller folks may feel constrained. The Boxster's midengine design spawns two trunks -- one front, one rear -- that can hold about 10 cubic feet of cargo between them regardless of whether the top is raised or lowered.
For the Spyder, Porsche takes out some features to reduce weight. The air-conditioning and radio are options, the narrow sport seats are thinly padded and have fixed backrests, the door handles are cloth straps and even the plastic hood that shields the gauges has been tossed. Most notably, though, the power-operated soft top has been replaced by a manual two-piece roof that requires practice, patience and the pity of Mother Nature.
Typically, the “spyder” moniker denotes a roofless model. But given that the Boxster is already a convertible, “spyder” is simply a marker that this iteration is unique. (A version of the Cayman could wear the spyder badge properly, but what sense would that make?) With the reworked-for-2009 Boxster S serving as the starting point, Porsche engineers set their sights on a distinctive design and saving weight, pulling out a claimed 176 pounds. Ditching the conventional convertible-top mechanism was the first step. In its place sits a 13-pound, manually operated, two-piece bikini-like cover that can be fully sealed in dire weather—it’s not approved for carwashes, though—flanked by newly shaped windows that match the pitch of the new lid.
With the top stowed, the most visually alluring detail becomes the new one-piece aluminum decklid with two aero humps like those found on the Carrera GT, saving 6.5 pounds over the regular car’s rear trunk and half-tonneau. Aluminum doors from the 911 Turbo and GT3 shave 33 pounds, and the 10-spoke, Spyder-specific 19-inch wheels are actually lighter than the Boxster S’s 18s. The gas tank is reduced in capacity by 2.6 gallons to 14.3, and an optional 13-pound lithium-ion starter battery ($1700!) can save 22 pounds. Additionally, the LED running lamps are smaller, the side scoops are done in black mesh, and the standard exhaust is now finished in black. Porsche says its engineers improved the aerodynamics of the Spyder through a modified front lip and fixed rear spoiler, and a lower trim bar bearing the Porsche name is affixed to recall the 908 and 909 race cars of the ’70s.
With brisk 50-degree temperatures, our California environment has declared its intention to remain chilly. Nonetheless, the top is down as we begin our journey on scenic Highway 1 near Monterey. With the Pacific Ocean crashing into the cliffs below us, we waste no time putting the Porsche to work. Any doubts about the Spyder’s performance enhancements drift out to sea among the breakers as the extra 10 ponies in the now 320-hp, 3.4-liter flat-six are put to work. Carving through the tight and twisted sections of Highway 1, we find that the reduced weight of our six-speed-manual Spyder—at about 3000 pounds, it’s the lightest in the entire Porsche fleet—is easily apparent. The 0.8-inch lowered suspension includes shorter and stiffer springs, firmer dampers, modified front and rear anti-roll bars, and a slightly wider track, and it all combines to noticeably improve the Boxster’s already stellar handling. The car is just itching to turn in at every corner, and the steering is effortless, as if it had been engineered just for this road. Well, that impression could also be because the suspension work did lighten the steering, but the rack is quicker and even more communicative than before, allowing us to feel the pavement texture more intimately.
The Spyder can tackle 25-mph switchbacks at double that speed. The grippy seats hold you in place and the body shows no signs of pitching or rolling, yet the ride is never harsh. Traction into and out of the turns is hardly lost, with the standard mechanically locking differential enabling high exit speeds. And in a straight line Porsche is claiming a 0-to-60-mph time of 4.6 seconds on PDK-equipped cars with launch control, which seems a bit conservative considering we managed 4.3 in a less-powerful Boxster S weighing 3220 pounds with the PDK. Figure 4.1 or quicker to 60 and about 12.7 seconds in the quarter-mile once we strap test gear to a Boxster Spyder.
Carbon-ceramic discs are optional, although the standard iron rotors carried over from the Boxster S work fine, as we found out when a Mini Cooper one car ahead of us attempted to overtake slower traffic at the same time we did and nearly ran us off the road as we neared our destination.
Standard safety features for the 2011 Porsche Boxster include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, dual thorax and head side-impact airbags and rollover safety hoops above the headrests. In Edmunds brake testing, the Spyder came to a stop from 60 mph in a superb 102 feet -- the other Boxsters are likely to only take a few feet longer.
Thanks to its petite size, modest weight and midengine layout, the 2011 Porsche Boxster handles superbly, managing to feel glued to the road and light on its feet at the same time. Body roll is virtually nonexistent, and the variable-ratio steering is among the best systems on the market. It's all that and more when considering the sublime Boxster Spyder.
The base Boxster's 2.9-liter engine sounds glorious, and most roadster buyers will never feel wanting for power. Having said that, more thrust is never a bad thing and the 310-hp Boxster S will certainly not disappoint. Driving enthusiasts will still feel more of a connection with manual-equipped Boxsters, but the PDK transmission is a revelation, providing faultless automated-manual shifting performance for those who would rather not row their own gears. We're not particularly fond of the steering-wheel-mounted shift buttons, so the optional shift paddles are a must-have.