About a decade from now, there’s an exceedingly good chance you’ll be lamenting the fact that you could have—no, should have—bought a 2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder.
Not only is it the most powerful version of Porsche’s much-loved, mid-engine roadster, it’s also the grand finale of the naturally aspirated six-cylinder Boxsters.
From now on, Boxsters will come with an eco-friendly (though still potent) turbo-4 under the hood and rebadged as the 718 Boxster. This Spyder is the end of an era, the last of the last, the Downton Abbey of sports cars.
But cast aside any thoughts of potential investment opportunities and look at this $83,095 Boxster Spyder for what it is: arguably the most thrilling, exhilarating, fun-to-drive open-top Porsche on the market today.
In creating it, Porsche cherry-picked its supercar-parts bin and extracted the best of the best. Its 375-horsepower, 3.8-liter, flat-6 engine is just like the one powering the 911 Carrera S. The laser-precise steering is from the 911 Turbo. The optional carbon-fiber bucket seats come courtesy of the million-dollar 918 Spyder super car.
In the metal, it looks rare and exotic. Inspired by skinny-bodied Porsche Spyders from the ’50s and ’60s, this latest iteration dons gorgeously sculpted double bubbles behind the seats (Porsche calls them “streamliners”) and a bold front end with air-gulping intakes big enough to ingest small animals.
This car isn’t for everyone. This is a stripped-down, bare-knuckle, hardcore Boxster that would look right at home on the grid at Sebring with race numbers glued to its doors.
It comes with any transmission you’d like, as long as it’s a 6-speed manual. It has a manual cloth top that shaves pounds but is so awkward in actuation it will leave you slinging expletives. And it jettisons proper door handles for the kind of flimsy nylon straps you find on supermarket shopping bags.
But to drive it is to adore it. It feels faster than a tennis ball off a Federer serve. Porsche claims it rushes from standstill to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds, but subjectively it seems even quicker than that.
The demonic exhaust heightens this insane acceleration. As the flat-6 shrieks toward its red line, it sounds like an F-16 on full afterburner. Lift off the gas and the Spyder will snap and snarl, crackle and pop as vocally as a Nascar stock car on the Daytona banking.
Anyone who decrees the days of the stick shift are over should be required to take a spin in the Spyder. Its stubby shifter slices through the 6-speed gate like a box cutter through warm butter. It’s light, precise, and an absolute joy to use.
Unfortunately, the upper limits of the Spyder’s on-road handling are meant for the racetrack, the only place where you can come close to determining when the 10-inch rear tires relinquish their awesome grip.
On normal highways and byways, no matter how sinewy, the Spyder sticks to the blacktop like gum to velvet. And with brakes borrowed from the much heavier 911 Carrera S, hitting the center pedal is a bit like stopping time.
The Spyder is at its best with the top down, in part because it’s a terrific experience, but mostly because the cloth roof is such a pain to raise and lower.
While it’s a huge improvement over the flimsy bimini roof from the 2010 Boxster Spyder, this one still requires plenty of tugging, snapping, and shuffling around the car. Anyone who has ever used the one-handed folding top on a modest Mazda Miata will fall down laughing.
An inconvenient roof, though, is a small price to pay for a car that delivers so much. A future classic? You bet. Don’t make it a coulda, woulda, shoulda. Invest in this thrill ride before it’s too late.