SUMMIT POINT, W. Va. — The only problem with the high-performance sports cars available today is that they can only be fully enjoyed on a racetrack. Exercising their speed potential is bound to build a collection of traffic tickets more quickly than junk mail, while exploring their cornering ability will likely result in a trip to explore wild and wonderful parts of the side of the road never envisioned by the engineers.
So here in a remote corner of a remote state, we had the rare opportunity to find the limits of both the driver and the car. Most drivers use about 25 percent of a car's handling capability, and even on the track, experienced auto journalists are only pushing to 85-90 percent. So maybe we’ve come close to the biggest thrill in owning a Boxster S — keeping it in check at the limit.
Porsche doesn't use the S designation lightly. They first used the "S" badge in 1952 for a 356 model with a then larger 1.5-liter engine. Perhaps the most famous Porsche "S" arrived in 1967, the legendary 911S that spawned the performance revolution that took the company from a quirky specialty brand to the racing powerhouse that it is today.
The new S takes the popular Boxster model and wrings even more gusto from it. A bore increase brings the engine to 3.2 liters. With a dual-resonance air intake, VarioCam variable valve timing and an electronic throttle, the S engine produces 250 horsepower (a 25-percent increase) and a strong 225 lb-ft of torque. The engine gets to 85 percent of its peak torque at just 2000 rpm, giving it great acceleration, not as much a bonus in straight-line work as it is in the curves.
The Boxster S also gets the six-speed manual transmission from the 911 Carrera, plus the larger, cross-drilled brake discs from that model, the calipers of which are painted red to become a design element, one that discreet owners may turn their nose to.