Porsche For 1997
By Carey Russ
For Porsche, 1997 will be remembered as the year of the Boxster. Originally shown as a concept car at the 1993 North American International Auto Show, the Boxster is now in production. Deliveries should begin soon.
The 911 continues with few changes after major revisions in the past few years.
The Boxster embodies both the past and the future at Porsche. The company's heritage is acknowledged in the styling, which has hints of the legendary 550 Spyder, the 356 Speedster, and the 911. The future is hidden deep amid the car. The mid-engined Boxster is powered by Porsche's first mass-produced horizontally-opposed (boxer) 6-cylinder engine to use liquid-cooling and 4 valves per cylinder. It is the classic Porsche engine brought up to date in order to meet future noise and emissions requirements. Don't think that means that power output has been compromised - the Boxster engine has more power for its size than the air-cooled 911 engine.
The Boxster is, of course, a rear-wheel drive design. The dual overhead cam engine makes 204 horsepower from 2.5 liters. Transmission choices are a 5-speed manual or new Tiptronic S. The manually-shiftable Tiptronic S has some major improvements this year. It now has 5 speeds instead of 4, and manual shifting is done exclusively by switches on the steering wheel, Formula One-style.
The chassis of the Boxster follows current Porsche practice. For safety, it is designed with front and rear crumple zones and the windshield frame and roll bars behind the seats enable the roadster to meet safety standards for coupes. Fully-independent suspension is a Porsche modification on MacPherson strut design, with many lightweight aluminum pieces.
Driver and passenger comfort is not forgotten. Adjustable seats are designed for support and comfort. The top is electrically-operated, and opens or closes in 12 seconds. A lightweight aluminum hardtop is available.
To many people, the 911 is Porsche. The familiar model has been evolving for over 30 years. Today's 911 has little in common with its ancestors besides the general shape and an air-cooled 6-cylinder boxer engine behind the rear wheels. And, the shape has evolved and the engine, at 3.6 liters and 282 horsepower, is much larger and more powerful than the original 2.0-liter powerplant.
Six different varieties of 911 are offered. Top of the line is the 400-horsepower, all-wheel drive Turbo, followed by the normally- aspirated all-wheel drive Carrera 4S and Carrera 4 Cabriolet. The rear- wheel drive Carrera Coupe, Targa (with a unique sliding glass roof system that combines advantages of both a coupe and convertible), and Cabriolet round out the lineup.