This one falls under the heading of painfully obvious. No clairvoyance necessary. Even Fox sportscaster Joe Buck, who once said, "Wood bats continue to be made of wood," knew Porsche would plop the 3.4-liter six from the Cayman S into the Boxster S. The only question was, "When?"
The answer is now. Right now. As in the 2007 Porsche Boxster S, which is arriving at your local Porsche store just in time for football season.
More motor good
Here's the deal. Porsche has tossed the 3.2-liter engine that previously powered the Boxster S into the trash can. Sort of. This new 24-valve 3.4-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder is based on that engine, but it wears the same cylinder heads and uses the same VarioCam Plus variable valve timing and lift system as the 325-hp 3.6-liter flat-six in the Porsche 911 Carrera.
Power ratings are 295 hp at 6250 rpm and 251 pound-feet of torque at 4400 rpm — the same numbers listed for the Cayman S, which shares its chassis with the drop-top Boxster. That's an increase of 15 hp and 15 pound-feet of torque over the 2006 Boxster S. Base price is also up, but just $800 to $55,500 — a Cayman S starts at $59,695.
Also borrowed from the Cayman S is the roadster's standard six-speed manual gearbox. This gearbox uses shorter 1st- and 2nd-gear ratios than the six-speed previously fitted in the Boxster S. The yellow example we threw around the twisting turning roads south of Knoxville, Tennessee, was equipped with the manual, as God intended, but a five-speed automatic Porsche calls "Tiptronic S" is optional. All Boxsters remain rear-wheel drive.
The last Cayman S we tested zoomed from zero to 60 mph in just 5.0 seconds and covered the standing quarter-mile in 13.2 seconds at 105 mph. The previous 280-hp Boxster S, could not keep pace, but now the Boxster S should be clicking off very similar acceleration times. In fact, Porsche says the '07 Boxster S will hit 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, which makes it much quicker than the last 911 Carrera Cabriolet Tiptronic we sampled. Top speed, says Porsche, is up 2 mph to a nice, round 169 mph.
FYI, power is also going up in the non-S Boxster, just not as radically. Its 2.7-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder is shared with the non-S Cayman, and Porsche says it's an all-new engine, not just a modification of the 2.7 that powered the 2006 Boxster. The VarioCam Plus intake valve timing and lift system is part of the package, as are the dual-chamber intake system and a higher 11.3:1 compression ratio. Horsepower is up to 245 at 6500 rpm and torque now peaks at 201 lb-ft at 4600, which is 5 hp and 2 lb-ft over last year's Boxster.
Boxsters come standard with a five-speed manual transmission, but the Tiptronic S and the six-speed are optional.
Engine for the ages
When we road-tested the Cayman S, we said this about its 3.4-liter six, "An engine for the ages, the flat-six storms toward its 7300-rpm redline as quickly as the rev counter can count, growling more like a living beast than a man-made machine." Stuffed into the open-top Boxster, the double-overhead-cam engine is no less sweet.
Peak torque sticks around until 6000 rpm, so the big six has plenty of midrange. Big-block junkies might complain about a light bottom end, but they've spent too much time under the hoods of their Novas. The transmission's shorter 1st and 2nd gears make it way easy to get the engine up to its happy zone and keep it there, even on the tightest mountain roads.
On the highway, passing that slowpoke in the 2006 Boxster can be accomplished quickly and easily without even a single downshift. In 6th gear at 80 mph, the 3.4-liter is humming along at just below 4000 rpm, ready to strike.
All the suspension hardware and geometry remains the same, which means the hardtopped Cayman S continues to use firmer rear springs, stiffer dampers and a slightly smaller rear sway bar than its topless sister. If you need to feel every ripple in the road, you can opt up to the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) which stiffens the suspension with the push of a button.
Whatever, the midengine Boxster S is a wonderfully athletic machine with extraordinary chassis balance. When tossed around, it manages to feel glued to the road and light on its feet at the same time. Body roll and midcorner bumps are never an issue, while its variable-ratio steering seems to be hardwired into the driver's synapses. Push too hard and mild understeer keeps you from finding the ditch tailpipe first.
In our slalom test, the last Cayman S we tested carved its way through the cones at an incredible 72.2 mph, which is one of the fastest slalom speeds we've ever recorded. Its 0.98g performance around the skid pad is equally impressive. The 2965-pound Boxster S shouldn't be far behind in either test. Meanwhile, it supplies a remarkably compliant ride despite its 19-inch low-profile Michelin Pilot Sport tires.
Brakes are the same big ventilated discs and four-piston calipers that stopped the last Boxster S we tested from 60 mph in just 105 feet. They're arguably the best brakes in the world, with exceptional pedal feel and tremendous resistance to fade. We couldn't cook them, even in full attack mode on the Tail of the Dragon — an appropriately named 318-turn, 11-mile stretch of highway 129 that cuts through The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Aside from the additional power, all 2007 Boxster models are also equipped with Porsche's Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), which continuously monitors the air pressure in each tire. It's standard, while the 19-inch, forged-alloy, two-tone wheels that were developed for the new 911 Turbo are now on the option sheets of both Boxster models.
Service access has also been improved, as the coolant and engine-oil filler caps are now located behind an easily accessible flap, so that better use can be made of the rear trunk.
Our yellow Boxster S was no stripper. Expensive options it wore included heated seats, 19-inch wheels, PASM, the color-matched console and roll bar (referring to the car in the video), a Bose sound system and the Chrono Package, which adds a stopwatch to the top of the dash. We estimate its as-tested price to be up around $65,000, which is by no means in line with the Boxster's "entry-level Porsche" label, but is certainly justified by the amount of car you get to drive home.
Speaking of strippers, it would have taken the Pussycat Dolls to improve our day spent flogging the roadster — the Tail of the Dragon lived up to the hype and the Boxster S has solidified its place among the best sports cars in the world. Of course the Dolls didn't show up, so we dined in the hotel ptomaine bar and hit the hay, alone.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.