- The Washington Times - Friday, November 3, 2000

MODEL: Porsche Boxster S

VEHICLE TYPE: Two-seat roadster


MILEAGE: 18 city, 26 highway

In the Porsche Boxster S, fun begins in the fast lane. It starts with first gear, shifts into second, and then exhilaration accelerates as the engine rpm increases.

This car, equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, is exceptionally fast. Zero to 60 mph in under 6 seconds and a driver can experience a top speed of 161 mph. At least that is what the manufacturer told me. I really wanted to find out firsthand, but my use of the Boxster S was only as fast as the flow of traffic.

Increased enjoyment in this roadster takes only a moment before getting underway. Above the rearview mirror is a clamp that releases the top. Then, by pressing a button, the top opens, folds down into a compartment and is concealed by a cover. (Putting the top up is equally as simple.) And driving under an open sky heightens the pleasure.

Porsche has widened the bore in its 3.2-liter, six-cylinder engine, boosting the engine's performance to 250 horsepower and 225 pounds-feet of torque. This torque peaks at 2,000 rpm resulting in immediate maximum accelerator response. The power is so "hot" that Porsche added a third radiator to handle cooling the larger engine.

The transmission gate is precise and requires only a short throw. The combination of power and transmission makes the Boxster S special when it comes to "fun" driving. The car, built low to the ground, has a great suspension. Every turn is flat even at highway speeds, which makes a winding rural road a delight to drive.

The Boxster S, however, is not cheap. The base price is $49,930, and my tester, equipped with a few options was $53,627. The options included traction control, cruise control, hi-fi sound package with extra speakers, plus an AM/FM sound system with a CD player, and a wind top deflector.

The wind top deflector is composted of a section of glass behind the seats. Even though the top was down, the interior remained quiet, and the passenger compartment retained its warmth when the heater was operating most appreciated one chilly day.

Yet this car has a downside, which begins when getting into the seat and ends when trying to get out. Both ingress and egress are a struggle, as the interior is snug and the car sits low to the ground.

It is obvious the engineers purposely made all the parts to have a snug fit. Even the windows lower a fraction when the door is opened and return to a full up position when the door is closed, providing an exceptional tight seal of the windows. This tight fit helps reduce exterior wind-rush noise and allows the pleasant sound of the engine be heard like music to the ear.

However, the audio system is ho-hum. The reception of some AM stations is not as clear as in other vehicles, and the buttons for changing programmed stations are so small I needed reading glasses to see what I was doing. Also, changing tracks on a CD was confusing.

The Porsche people told me the reason this car doesn't have cup holders is that the German engineers don't think it is safe to drink soda or coffee while driving. I suspect the real reason is the passenger compartment is so tight, there wasn't room to install a cup holder. The ideal cup holder location has an ashtray.

As for other stowage, the trunk will hold one carry-on piece of luggage and maybe a computer bag. The space behind the seats could hold a newspaper or two.

The Boxster S is not a family sedan. It is what it is: a powerful sports roadster intended for enjoying the open road, and it does that with charm and zest.


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