Test Drive: 2009 Porsche Boxster S

Inside the newly designed roadster

Porsche Boxster: Porsche

The Porsche brand has come to be synonymous with precision, power and best-in-class handling, making it a key benchmark for performance cars. While that's great for Porsche owners, it also means every manufacturer with an eye toward building a quick machine starts to compare itself to the iconic brand from Stuttgart. Competitors across the spectrum have stepped up the game to knock on the German builder's garage door with more horsepower and comparable handling in less expensive packages. Never one to stop and let the rest of the field catch up, Porsche has upped its game for 2009 with more powerful, efficient engines and one very clever new transmission.

Did you really think that while the king of the hill 911 benefited from these none-too-subtle changes that Porsche was about to let its entry-level – and best-selling - Boxster get left behind?

For 2009, the Boxster gets a slew of changes, all for the better, may we add. While it may not look very different from the outside - the design changes are evolutionary, not revolutionary - it's a completely different car under the taut and wider sheet metal. Porsche has equipped the two-seat ragtop with its innovative new double-clutch PDK gearbox, which means both Teutonically precise shifts, a sport-plus mode which is, in our professional opinion, the best we’ve seen and, as an added bonus, much better fuel economy.

Porsche and fuel economy, really? Isn’t Porsche the purview of ‘if you have to ask, you can’t afford it?’ Well, yes and no.

Porsche has been facing tighter emissions and fuel consumption standards from the European Union and the U.S. – which is one of the main reasons they took control of VW. That's usually bad news for a sports car company as it means an end to high-horsepower motors. However, Porsche has responded with an all-new 3.4-liter, 310 horsepower direct-injection (DFI) flat six-cylinder 'boxster' engine. With 15 more horses than the previous model, the 2009 Boxster still manages to deliver 11 percent better fuel economy – up to 30.1 mpg.

Now, you may be asking, what about the drive?

Ahhh, Bella Sicilia, yes the roads are clogged with sheep, really, and sometimes trucks get too close for comfort. And yes, lane changes seem as arbitrary as the Italian parliamentary system, but it is the home to the historic Targa Florio race, a race that Porsche won numerous amounts of times. It’s the perfect place to drive the new 2009 Porsche Boxster S.

Continued on next page.

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