Test Drive Report Vol. 6 | Porsche 987 Boxster Spyder PDK VS Manual

A lightweight version of Porsche's Boxster that looks better, handles better and runs faster.

Drive a standard Porsche Boxster S and you’re likely to think, “What if this car has less weight and more power?" Clearly the folks at Porsche have already answered that by introducing the Boxster Spyder.

By utilising vigorous weight saving techniques including aluminium door panels and engine cover, deleting the air condition, sound system and even deleting the hood on top of the instruments, Porsche has shaved off 80kg. To complete the experience the Spyder gets 10 more horsepower and firmer, 20mm lowered suspension. Lighter wheels and better brakes.

Why are we paying more for LESS? Because you are buying a special edition sports car from Porsche. At 2800LB, it is the lightest Porsche on the market (At the time of introduction). A quick drive on mountain road reveal that although the Lightweight Spyder has a much firmer suspension, the damping is supple enough to prevent bumps from unsettling the car or causing any jumpiness, which helps with comfort as well as keeping the tyres in contact with the asphalt. In my memory, only a few other sports cars manage to offer such a well balanced body control and comfort. Turn-in is very sharp and mid-corner adjustments can be made swiftly and without drama. Plentiful grip also makes the car’s performance easy to access.

The handling is so sweet, so communicative, it felt like an extension of your body. I can truly describe it as "Man & Car Becomes ONE". Simply put, whatever you want it to do and wherever you want it to go, the Spyder will say " Your wish is my command!"

The updated 3.4L engine is nicely matched to the car's character. It is very responsive and power is easily accessed with linear delivery from the naturally aspirated engine, however you’ll have to climb a long way up the rev range – 7200rpm – before you find the 320bhp peak. The chassis is so accomplished, it feels like it could use another 50 Horsepower. Especially when this particular car has aircon and sound system which added back most of the 80KG weight saving. The brakes are also excellent, well balanced and lots of feel.

The Boxster Spyder comes pretty close to perfection if you’re after a car that looks like a mini Carrera GT, has more immediate responses of a truly focused performance car and usability of a daily driver. However, that canvas top really is a lot of hassle to remove and put back, it creates a lot of wind noise when closed and it obstructs visibility, but for one of the best-handling and best looking (with top opened) Porsche, those are minor issues.

If you are thinking about getting one, don’t hesitate, you won’t be disappointed. HOWEVER, if you are really going to get one, find a MANUAL version because the PDK gearbox has a mind of its own, it will upshift or downshift without your input, even on Sport Plus setting.

SO......What about the Manual?

“EPIC” is the good word to describe driving a Boxster Spyder in the above test drive notes. But what if it has manual transmission and is equipped with a race spec exhaust? I can tell you the driving excitement is off the roof. I love that car’s organic feeling of the engine and it’s handling, but without manual transmission, I think it has left something to be desired.

Let's do a re-match with the Manual Boxster Spyder. I snatched the keys and proceeded to drive it, but before I set off, the owner did something in the rear trunk and mumbled “you gonna like the sound….” I wasn’t paying much attention to his words because my excitement was mounting as I was adjusting the bucket seat while playing with the manual shifter.

I found my driving position in no time, so off I go. A clear straight path was ahead of me so I gunned it. It started off like any other Boxster until we hit 4000RPM……….BAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRR !!! The explosive exhaust note shocked me, turns out the car was equipped with an exhaust bypass. Now I understood why the owner had that smile...... the explosive sound was addictive to say the least. I can’t stop myself from driving one gear lower than I should just to hear the sound at above 4000RPM.

Let’s not get too carried away about the exhaust and re-focus on the driving experience. The Boxster Spyder Manual is just about the best weapon for twisty mountain roads. It’s got perfect power to weight ratio and a set of strong but easy to modulate brakes. The normally aspirated engine pulls with increasing authority as the revs buildup, however, it will never require you to wrestle with it. The throttle is so precise, making mid corner correction and flat out corner exit an ease. Manual transmission makes a word of difference in contributing to a now PURE driving experience. No more unintended shifts, you now control your own “destiny”. The steering feel for this mid-engine car is beyond words….. but I think Telepathic should be the word which I have used to describe the Boxster Spyder in my previous review.

The Boxster Spyder now truly deserve the description of “MAN AND MACHINE IN PERFECT HARMONY."

SCORE: 8/10

PLUS: + Mini Carrera GT good looks + Very Rare + Lighter-weight, more power + Telepathic handling

MINUS: - PDK gearbox spoils the fun (For PDK Car) - Hard to operate manual top and big wind noise when top is closed - Only 10HP more than Boxster S - Uninspiring interior - Optional aircon and sound system erased the weight advantage.


Experience the Unmatched Excitement of Our Hand Selected Elite Classic & Collectible Automobiles. Classic Insider is Hong Kong's Respected Private Brokerage for Discerning Collectors of Classic and Collectible Automobiles.

Be the first to know. Signup to our list

© 2019 | ClassicInsider.com | Branding, Marketing & Web Design by Pareto Principal 

Classic Insider Limited | 1002, 10/F The L Plaza, 367-375 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong | +852 9013 2536 | info@Classicinsider.com

  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Instagram Icon
  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
  • Classic Insider Twitter