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Porsche Boxster S (2001)

By Tom Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 50,200
     Price As Tested                                    $ 56,222
     Engine Type              DOHC 24-valve 3.2 Liter F6 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 194 cid/3179 cc
     Horsepower                                   250 @ 6250 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               225 @ 4500 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                   95.2"/70.1"/171.0"
     Transmission                               Six-speed manual         

     Curb Weight                                     3118 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  16.9 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                  205/50ZR17/255-40ZR17 z-rated
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                     Mid-engine/rear-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                         Two-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.32


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            18/26/22
     0-60 MPH                                        5.5 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          14.0 seconds @ 99.5 mph
     Top-speed                                           161 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

The Porsche Boxster S was introduced in 2000 as an answer the Porsche-philes who were asking for more power than the standard-issue Boxster could provide. Porsche offers a very powerful alternative.

OUTSIDE - The Boxter owes some of its styling heritage to the racing Porsche 550 Spyder of the 50's. The look is downright seductive from any angle, although it appears a bit thick in its hindquarters. Porsche has used typical factory restraint in the S model's look, so exterior differences are few between the Boxster S and the standard model. Among them are a scoop that's centered low in the front clip, the cross- drilled brake rotors and red-painted brake calipers, twin exhaust tips and the Boxster S logo on the rear deck lid. The cloth-lined convertible top needs just 12 seconds to lower after unlocking a single latch at the windshield header and then pushing a dash-mounted button. A panel lifts behind the seats and automatically snaps into place when the top is in its storage well. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels and wide high-performance tires are standard; an 18-inch set is optional. Fog lights are standard.

INSIDE - Boxster is a two-passenger pure sports car. Average-sized adults fit best, though taller occupants can find a bit of extra legroom by sliding the seat tightly back against the roll bar. It's wider than most of its competitors, so elbow and shoulder room are ample. The stereo controls are difficult to master, and the ignition switch is on the left side of the steering wheel - a Porsche tradition. The small analog speedometer gives measurements in 25-mph increments, and are hard to read. Fortunately there is a redundant digital speedo inserted into the tachometer face. The leather-covered bucket seats are deep and provide firm support. Both are power-adjustable, while the driver's seat can be manually adjusted for height. Standard equipment includes automatic climate control, AM/FM/cassette stereo, telescopic steering column, power windows and mirrors, which are also heated.

ON THE ROAD - Boxster is powered by an engine that is unique in the auto industry, but not in Porsche's world. It's a mid-mounted 3.2-liter six-cylinder, with dual overhead cams and variable valve timing. And while that sounds like the specs from many of today's high-performance engines, the difference in the Boxster's powerplant is that the engine's cylinders are horizontally-opposed with three cylinders protruding from each side of the engine block, whereas most cars have vertical or "Vee"-placed cylinders. It's tucked tightly beneath the car as well, which makes room for small cargo areas at each end of the vehicle. There are two transmissions available. The first is a close-ratio six-speed manual and the second is a five-speed automatic with Tiptronic gear selection. With this, the driver can set the gear shift lever in a special position that allows shifting from steering wheel-mounted thumb- switches. New for 2001 is Porsche Stability Management (PSM) which can reduce chassis instability by applying braking power to individual wheels and, if necessary, reduce engine power. This system helps Boxster's driver keep the car pointed in its intended direction.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - The Boxster's unit-body platform is extremely stiff, especially so given the fact that it's available only as a convertible roadster. The midship location of the engine concentrates the bulk of its weight in the center of the vehicle, which gives it neutral balance and near-perfect handling. On the S-version, the fully independent suspension is enhanced over the standard model with the use of more rigid tie-rod ends, revised steering geometry and larger wheel bearings. And while the front coil springs are of the same stiffness on both S and non-S versions, the rear coils of the S are stronger by 11- percent. Its rack-and-pinion steering system is razor-sharp, delivering excellent response and lots of road feel. The four-wheel vented disc brakes are gigantic and have been borrowed from the Porsche 911 Carrera. An anti-lock braking system (ABS) is standard.

SAFETY - Dual dashboard and side airbags, ABS, and PSM are standard.

OPTIONS - Floor mats, $92; Speed Yellow seat belts, $330; Carbon door sill insignia, $765.