2015 Porsche Boxster GTS – Review, Part 2

2015 Porsche Boxster GTS

2015 Porsche Boxster GTS

Bottom Line:  The GTS is THE Boxster I’d buy with my own money.  Superb road dynamics, rigid structure, and gorgeous styling make the highest spec (and costliest Boxster) the best combination of features and performance.

My BMW Z4-owning friend Tony, a Vancouverite (well, Richmond, actually) has been bugging me to post my final review of the 2015 Boxster GTS.  So here is Part 2 and the final installment of our Boxster review.

How does the Boxster GTS perform as a daily driver? 

Why Porsche Canada chooses March to send its roadsters to Edmonton is beyond me.  Normally, we’re knee-deep in snow.  Thankfully, when the Boxster GTS arrived, Edmonton was enjoying an unusual warm spell.  While it wasn’t top-down-enjoy-the-sun warm, it was warm enough most days to experience how the Boxster performs as a daily driver.

In short, an enthusiast owner could drive the Boxster GTS twelve months per year.  Our demo unit came equipped with Michelin Pilot Alpin winter tires on 19-in. wheels in place of the OEM high performance summer tires on 20-inchers.  The Boxster’s traction control and perfectly smooth clutch engagement make the Porsche a doddle to control on ice and snow covvered roads.

For those unfamiliar with the Boxster’s rear mid-engine layout, there are two storage ‘trunks’, one at the front under the hood and one in the rear.  Lift up the trunk and there’s nothing mechanical to see; the engine is hidden under a cover.  Each storage bin has sufficient room for soft luggage and the necessities of daily living, like a big trip to the supermarket.

There are niggles I find annoying, especially given the price point of the car.  There is no keyless entry and no keyless ignition.  You have to use the Porsche’s fog to unlock the doors AND you have to insert the fob into the (still weirdly-located) left-side receptacle to start the car.  (Our 2015 Subaru WRX has keyless entry AND keyless ignition.)

Our test vehicle came with optional 3-level heated seats, and they work FAST.  Sadly, a heated steering wheel does not come with the heated seat options, another marketing/packaging mistake.

Boxster's flat-bottom steering wheel is unusually 'naked', bereft of any controls, and suede covered.

Boxster’s flat-bottom steering wheel is unusually ‘naked’, bereft of any controls, and suede covered.

Interior

The Boxster’s cabin takes its design from the Panamera.  Over the years, I’ve acclimatized to the slight ‘busyness” of the array of buttons on the console, and the analog tachometer that dominates the dash immediately in front of the driver.  Frustratingly, the Boxster, like all Porsches I’ve tested recently, has the top of the steering wheel barely clearing the top of the tach when it’s adjusted comfortably for me.  But it’s something I got used to.

The Boxster’s interior is handsome.  Her Royal Highness (Ingrid) on first entering the roadster immediately ran her fingers along the suede covering of the lower dash and said, “Wow, this is a really nice cabin.”  Suede covers the flat-bottom steering wheel, part of the metal gearshift knob, the gearshift boot and trims the doors.  The look is elegant, modern and appropriately sporty.

Front buckets have (optional) 3-level heat, and are Germanically flat and firm

Front buckets have (optional) 3-level heat, and are typically German –  flat and firm

The front buckets are typical German; they are firm.  Normally, I like the front seats of German cars, but the standard issue buckets in the Boxster have very flat (and to my skinny butt) and thin cushions.  The seats do not have deep bolsters, which makes ingress and egress easy.  For long term comfort, I prefer the feel of the WRX’s front seats to those of the Boxster.

A console-mounted button controls the power roof, and its operation is fast.  Time for top down is 12 seconds; for top up, 10 seconds, and it’s a simple one-button operation.  There are no locks or latches to fiddle with.

But the interior is snug and there is virtually no storage space.  The open compartment molded into the door is wide enough for maps and gloves but little else; my hardshell sunglass case won’t fit there and there is no console storage.  The sunglass case barely fit in the glovebox with the owner’s manual stashed in there.

On the road, the Boxster’s interior is rock solid.  Over bumps and pavement irregularities, there are no rattles, squeaks and no sign of cowl shake.  The Boxster has one superbly rigid chassis.

On the road

Porsche engineers have done a superlative job of spec-ing the Boxster GTS’s suspension.  The GTS is the top-of-the-range model and the highest output engine (330 horsepower) available in Boxsters, and the suspension impresses with it’s precision and remarkable compliance over the numerous potholes and frost heaves of our winter-ravaged roads.  A family member who owns a Cadillac CT-V was similarly impressed with the Porsche’s taut but comfortable ride.  The Boxster GTS rides much, much better than the Cayman R we last tested, which had a suspension so stiff we were gritting our teeth before hitting even minor road imperfections.

Where the Cayman R was a (barely) tolerable sportscar for the street, the Boxster GTS excels as a comfortable, yet fabulous car for real-world streets.

Fire up the 3.4-litre flat-six cylinder engine and you’re rewarded with a lusty growl.  Our demo unit had the sports exhaust with console-mounted electric switch, allowing a slightly rortier exhaust note at the touch of a button.  With this exhaust switch engaged, the GTS’s exhaust is noticeably louder and pops and snaps on the over-run.  The iconic flat-six howl is entertaining and addictive.  Ingrid hated it.

The clutch is light and takeup is progressive and predictable.  Most of the Porsches that have come our way lately have been equipped with the magically-quick PDK automatic, but our test unit had a deliciously entertaining 6-speed manual.  Check Porsche’s website and the 0-100 kph acceleration times are marginally quicker for the PDK version, 4.9 sec. vs 5.0 sec. for the manual transmission.  While the PDK may be quicker (and faster on the racetrack), the manual transmission is much more engaging and therefore entertaining.  Old school, hard core ‘enthusiasts’ will gravitate to the simpler manual transmission, just because it’s so much more rewarding to drive.

The six-speed manual transmission has short shifts, with precise gates.  It’s a joy to flick the gearshift lever from gear to gear, and the metal gearshift know is trimmed in Alcantra suede-like material, giving the knob a soft, yet grippy feel.  There is never a question what gear one’s in because the gates make the gear position intuitively obvious, and if you’re really worried, a digital gear indicator is clearly displayed on the dash.  (On one cold minus 19 degrees Celsius morning, the Porsche’s manual transmission DID feel a tad notchy, but any manual transmission feels stiff and less than ‘buttery’ in such cold.)

Our still cool weather prevented any extensive testing with the top down, but around town with the windows up, seat heaters on and the climate control blowing warm air to our feet, the Boxster is very comfy even in chilly (barely above 0 degrees Celsius).

Brakes

The Boxster’s 4-wheel disc brakes are superb.  Pedal feel is solid and there is a quick, initial ‘bite’ with a nicely progressive, firm feel.  I actually didn’t think much one way or the other about the brakes until returning to my 2015 Subaru WRX, which has very nice brakes in its own right.  After a week in the GTS and jumping into the WRX, the Subie’s stoppers felt like somebody had sprayed WD40 on them, requiring decidedly more effort to slow the sedan down compared to the GTS.

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Value

Porsches always have been and likely always will be expensive.  It irks me that Porsche charges the customer for seemingly every little thing.  Check out the website; there is no ‘base’ colour.  Every colour has a price, and our Carmine Red is charged out at $2,950.

But Porsche is a premium brand.  If I were in the market for a Boxster, there is no question I’d choose the top-of-the-line GTS version, because it’s got the most horsepower.  Although the GTS is quick, it’s not scary fast, but offers the perfect balance of power and combination of features I’d want.

The value question is a tough one.  There are those who value and appreciate the craftsmanship and technology that goes into manufacturing a Rolex or Breitling mechanical watch, even though a Japanese quartz Seiko is much less expensive, requires no maintenance and is more accurate.  There is no denying the Porsche brand carries a legendary heritage of successful racing, and for some, that’s worth the price of entry.

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One could argue that the new Corvette is a better value.  A loaded Stingray can easily be had for less than the $100,000 dollars of this GTS, as would the track-ready Camaro Z28 or the brutish Dodge Challenger Hellcat.  Perhaps that’s an ‘apples and oranges’ comparison.  It’s possible that some customers considering the Boxster GTS may be cross-shopping it against the Stingray.  But there are just as many loyalists of each brand who’d never consider owning the other brand.

For those who worship at the alter of European engineering and appreciate the Porsche brand, the Boxster GTS represents good value.  It remains an ‘affordable’ way to join the Porsche family.

Specs

 2015 Porsche Boxster GTS
MSRP Base/Price as-tested $83,900/$100,465 (Carmine Red $2,950; GTS Comm. Pkg. $4,200; Park Assist $1,730; Convenience Pkg. $1,030; Infotainment Pkg. w/Bose $4,560; Wheels painted Platinum $1,010; Destination $1,085)
Engine 3.4-litre horizontally-opposed 6-cylinder
Power 330 horsepower; 272 lb-ft
Transmission 6-speed manual
Tires/Wheels 235/35ZR20 front/265/35ZR20 rear
Fuel Economy Rating (L/100km) 12.1/8.9 city/hwy12.5 (observed)

 

 

 

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