2002 Porsche Boxster Page 1

by Dan Carney


“No joyriding.”

There it was in black and white. Vehicle manufacturers provide a standard boilerplate loan agreement with each test car, and it is full of predictable prohibitions that amount to, “Don’t be an idiot.” Park a test car on the street in front of a Tijuana brothel, and be prepared to suffer the consequences. But in the Porsche paperwork I noticed something extra: “The car … shall not be used for personal convenience, competitive events, or ‘joyriding’ (emphasis mine).” I am so busted.

I had the fleetest Boxster for an unseasonably warm stretch of late fall weather, and thoroughly enjoyed my time in the cockpit. How to describe it but joyriding?

That is the Boxster’s nature, and the “S” is the same, only more so. The car is a delight for sensualists. Its history-evoking lines, soulful engine howl and assassin’s-dagger balance make the driver feel great. Porsche’s television commercial, with drivers of an old 550 Spyder and a new Boxster sharing mutual compliments of “holy schmole!” gets it right. The driver will probably say that to himself every time he nails the throttle at corner apex, balancing the car to the exit as the engine’s intake wail rises toward redline.

S-ex appeal

With a base price of $51,600, the “S” lists for $9,000 more than the base model. That nine grand buys 250 horsepower and a six-speed gearbox, instead of 217 horsepower and a five-speed tranny. The extra power is evident because the car pulls noticeably stronger under acceleration, due in part to the bigger 3.2-liter engine, and probably also because of lower ratios made possible by the six-speed transmission.