Driven: Porsche Boxster Spyder

EDGAR buckles up for a drive in the Italian countryside in this fiery featherweight.

Damien Reid March 15, 2016

My goodness, if ever a car left me with more questions than answers when I handed the keys back it’s the Porsche Boxster Spyder. 

It’s lighter, more powerful, faster, more agile and loads more fun than the already thrill-a-minute Boxster GTS but unlike the GTS, I wasn’t thinking about how I could make room for it in my garage.

It’s the most powerful car to wear a Boxster badge as it has taken a lesson from the Cayman GT4 which borrowed the 3.8-litre flat six engine that sits in the back of the current 911 Carrera S and has done the same. 

This gives it 45bhp more than the 3.4-litre GTS which is just 10 shy of the Cayman GT4 at 370bhp but add to this equation that it’s also considerably lighter at just 1315kg and it’s like a go-kart for grown ups. 

The big weight saver here is that the big electric motor and arms used to raise and lower the roof are gone, instead replaced by manual fasteners which require you to get out and walk around to stich it down or stow it yourself, but that’s where this car’s at. It’s a proper track day hoon. 

Also missing in its quest to shed kilos are the internal door handles replaced by fabric door pulls as well as the infotainment system and air-conditioning. Yep, the a/c and stereo are in the options column, which I’m sure will be ticked by everyone in the Middle East and thankfully both are zero cost additions.

Slim fitting, lightweight seats are also standard and overall contributes to the 15kg weight saving, however I found they might be best suited to short track-day blasts than day-long country drives as they’re a bit harsh after a few hours. 


  • Engine: 3.8-litre six-cylinder

  • Transmission: 6-speed manual

  • Power: 370bhp @ 6700rpm

  • Torque: 420Nm @ 4570rpm

  • 0-100kmh: 4.5 seconds

  • Top Speed: 288kmh

  • Price: AED 305,000 est.

There’s no question that advanced semi-auto or automated manuals like Porsche’s PDK system are faster than old-school manuals but nowhere near as fun so it’s a brilliant step by Porsche to shun the current trend and go back to the H-pattern, six-speed manual with clutch pedal. That alone probably contributes 60 per cent to the fun factor of this car. 

If you want to be lazy with the manual box, the 420Nm of torque is outstanding which means you can leave it in sixth gear on the motorway and in most cases just plant your right foot to overtake without needing to downshift. 

Compared to the regular Boxster, the 2016 Spyder sits 20mm lower on the same firmed-up passive sports suspension that’s already available as an option on the GTS with only a tweaked rear anti-roll bar differentiating the two. 

Larger brakes from the 911 have been fitted as has a faster steering rack and a smaller steering wheel. On the tight and twisting roads in the Italian countryside we used for the launch, it came into its own and felt as agile as a race car. 

And this is where I felt the Spyder would be at its best, as either a track day car or a weekend mountain warrior where its stiff suspension would hug corners and hunker down putting traction to the road. 

But my mind kept wandering back to most Middle Eastern roads which, with the exception of a few mountain passes, are mostly wide, flat desert plains and then there’s the obsession with jaw-breaking speed humps everywhere and I concluded that the Boxster Speedster probably isn’t the ideal car for this region’s public roads. At least not as an everyday driver like the Boxster GTS. 

It’s a fair-weather sports car in the same mold as the Lotus Elise and Alfa Romeo 4C and is the most un-Porsche-like car I’ve driven. Like all Porsches, it’s fast, clocking 4.5 seconds to 100kmh with a 288kmh top end and being just seven seconds off the time of the GTS around the Nurburgring is testimony to its abilities. It’s leaner, meaner, faster and in many ways is the Cayman GT4 without a roof but could I live with it every day? 

No. I handed the keys back with a huge grin after one of the most fun days of driving I’ve had in recent memory but a car has to be mated to the right road for the equation to work and thinking of the roads I spend all my time on back here, I’d probably still go with that awesome Boxster GTS.