Porsche’s brilliant Boxster GTS is the new convertible sports car king
Sean Carson | October 2014
With the current third generation Boxster, Porsche has refined the roofless sports car recipe to Michelin star standards. A sonorous flat-six engine mated to a wickedly mechanical and precise manual gearbox (or super-swift PDK auto) combine with a chassis that gives you plenty of feeling and lots of adjustability.
It’s not all pseudo motorsport pretensions though – the Boxster is a surreptitiously usable car for one or two people on a day-to-day basis. The front and back boots are big enough to accommodate shopping or sufficient luggage for a weekend away.
And now, for Boxster fans who want even more performance but in an equally usable car there’s this: the Porsche Boxster GTS.
It’s not an RS or even an R version – think of it more like a Boxster “Plus”, with all the best features of the standard Boxster S model tuned and tweaked that little bit further to deliver open air driving delights.
What’s the Porsche Boxster GTS like to drive?
The Boxster S’ 3.4-litre engine has been massaged, with Porsche extracting another 15hp taking the total to 330. Torque is also up by 7lb ft to 273, which together means the 0-62mph time is slashed by a third of a second to 5.0 seconds – 4.7 if you opt for the paddleshift PDK transmission.
It’ll zing all the way to 174mph, but the numbers are not necessarily what the Boxster GTS does best. This car is about extracting the performance, and the powertrain works perfectly with the chassis. It’s revvy and feels free. It’s not the most torquey unit, despite that small increase, which means you’ll need to explore all of the throttle’s travel and most of the rev range to sample the scintillating motor’s maximum performance.
It’s worth the effort, as the noise alone will contort your face through glee, as the exhaust note morphs from a big, bassy blare to a howl at the top end. The manual gearbox is accurate and rewarding, the dual-clutch PDK smooth and rapid on the way up and down the ratios.
You can also leave it in automatic for ease of use around town or on the motorway. Thankfully, the engine is not too noisy for top gear cruising, and with the sports exhaust (including a quiet mode) you can calm things down when you want to relax.
Prod the button that controls the Porsche Active Suspension Management adjustable dampers and you can adjust the chassis on the fly for more comfort or more control. In the softest mode the Boxster still feels sporty and taut, but there’s plenty of compliance for rippled Tarmac. Despite riding on big 20-inch alloys, the wheels never thump or slam over big bumps.
On the circuit, select the firmest of the GTS’ settings and the car takes on a new attitude. It feels racier and that bit more aggressive. Tightening up the control of the Boxster’s masses makes the steering feel sharper and more accurate. Direction changes are completed with less body roll and a harder-edged approach. However, it’s still not as sharp dynamically as its fixed-roof Cayman cousin.
We wouldn’t expect it to be, given the big void above your head, and the way the Boxster GTS grips and copes with the forces at work is impressive. Besides, the noise of the piercing flat-six rasping in your ears with the roof down is enough to forgive any (very) small chassis shortcomings.
We’ll stop short of saying this is a Jekyll and Hyde car (no car ever is, really), but the way the Boxster GTS can adapt to different surroundings is an extremely impressive and welcome trait.
What’s the Porsche Boxster GTS like inside?
That talent runs deep inside the cabin, too. It’s comfortable and features all the usual Porsche appointments you’d expect if you were dropping over 50 grand on a two-seater sports car.
The seats are fantastic – comfortable on a long run, low and cossetting to make you feel like you’re in something special, and grip you when you’re pushing the pace and asking the tyres to do the same thing.
Refinement is good, with the right noises percolating through to the cabin. There’s not much wind noise at speed thanks to clever insulation in the hood, which can be raised or lowered electrically in 9.0 seconds at up to 30mph, It allows for quick operation to catch those fleeting moments of British sunshine, or when you want to enjoy the rasp of that exhaust to its full effect.
For your £52,879 you get Porsche’s Sports Chrono pack with dynamic engine mounts and Porsche Active Suspension Management, as mentioned. Those 20-inch alloys come fitted as standard, too, as does a sports exhaust and electric half-leather, half-Alcantara sports seats (full leather is a no cost option).
And here comes the Boxster GTS’ very minor catch: the options are quite expensive, and you’ll probably want to select a few of them. If you want even more agility, Porsche Torque Vectoring costs £890, the PDK ’box £2,351. Carbon-ceramic brakes are a £4,977 option and very good, too.
Inside, sat nav is £2,141, Bluetooth £446. If you want the carbonfibre or aluminium trim packages, that’ll be £1,008 and £477 respectively. The GTS is fairly equipped as standard, but if you don’t keep a watchful eye on those check boxes, you may get a shock when you see the final total after you’ve had your way with the options.
That said, if you added the extra equipment here onto a standard Boxster S you’d have nullified the price difference – and that’s without taking into account the GTS’ performance gains.
MR verdict: Porsche Boxster GTS
Is the Boxster GTS the finest convertible sports car on the market today? All things considered, we think so.
The regular Boxster S laid a strong claim to that title too, but with a touch more performance from this GTS variant and not much in the way of an economy penalty – not to mention the extra options and retaining that open-air experience – this is the new convertible king.
Rivals: Porsche Boxster GTS
- Audi TTS Roadster
- BMW Z4 35iS
- Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG
Audi’s new TTS Roadster offers similarly sharp styling and roofless appeal, but going on sale in mid-November, it’ll have to be exceedingly good to match the Boxster GTS’ balance and purity. It’s the only ‘new-school’ rival here – both the BMW Z4 35iS and Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG with their folding hard tops are showing their age dynamically next to the Boxster range and this most lithe GTS variant. We like you can get the BMW with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, and that 421hp 5.5-litre V8 in the Merc is still a monster…
Specification: Porsche Boxster GTS
Engine: 3.4-litre flat-six
Gearbox: six-speed manual or seven-speed PDK
Price from: £52,879
Torque: 273lb ft
0-62mph: 5.0 seconds (4.7 with PDK and Sport Plus)
Top speed: 174mph
MPG: 31.4 combined (34.4 PDK)
CO2: 211g/km (190 PDK)