- The Washington Times - Friday, December 6, 2002

"What does the S stand for?"
This question came to mind as I tested the 2003 Porsche Boxster S.
I'm told this Boxster S is a "special" model, so that could be it. However, this is a sports car with a six-speed transmission, specific suspension tuning, style with substance, and a very sound engine. I also learned that it has steel support elements to provide a secure foundation. The letter S even applies to the fuel supply system that reduces hydrocarbon emission. Could any of these words be the basis for the S?
But after driving this roadster, I zeroed in on Speed, with a capital S. The midengine Boxster S is a fast little car and handles speed because it is well balanced. The car is a two-seater with the engine just behind the seats, in front of the rear wheels. When making a sharp turn at high speeds, I noted there was no lean or sway, and the steering was stupendous.
I had to slink into the low driver's seat, but once there, I felt that the Boxster S and I were a unit. The six-speed transmission was easy to shift. Even in sixth gear, I didn't have to downshift to accelerate. But when I did, this roadster moved quickly.
The engine's power isn't overwhelming as it has a modest 3.2-liter six-cylinder in-line engine producing a modest 258 horsepower and only 229 foot-pounds of torque. However, this car weighs only 2,911 pounds, so quick acceleration is easy to accomplish. And that's the enjoyment of this car zooming away quickly when the traffic light turns green or zipping over a wiggly country road on 17-inch tires.
Perhaps S stands for stop. This car has four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock control. Although I didn't measure, it seemed I was able to stop in a shorter distance than in other cars.
Boxster S is also sharp-looking, a roadster designed for those who like to have fun while driving. Beyond that, this little beauty has limited capacities. For example, if two people wanted to play golf, the trunk space behind the engine would hold two sets of golf clubs without the bags.
S is definitely not for storage space, which is limited under the front hood, although there is sufficient space to carry a couple of pieces of carry-on luggage. Nevertheless, a surfboard or fishing pole could be transported by converting this roadster into a convertible. Just unclasp the roof hook, push a button and the top folds down into the rear over the engine compartment, sealing itself up to make the Boxster look Sensational with a capital S.
On the negative side, S is for the stupidly designed sound system: There are 10 buttons for programming radio stations. But the buttons are so small I had to put on my reading glasses to see what I was doing, and that's not a safe thing to do while driving.
But I doubt stupid and small is Porsche's meaning of the S.
While on the subject of sound, the interior noise is a bit higher than in most cars, which is good and bad.
It's bad for listening to the silly radio, but good for listening to the exhaust pipes resonate.
The Porsche engineers have tuned the pipes to give off the pleasurable tones of power and performance.
The Boxster S also has most of the thoughtful features expected in a car costing $57,000, such as climate control and dust-pollen filter, heated power side-view mirrors, leather seats, telescoping steering column. It also has lots of safety equipment, including side air bags.
So the elusive S could stand for innumerable things. I suggest you go to a Porsche dealer, take a test drive and fill in your own blanks.

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