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Geneva show: Porsche bowls up next Boxster

Downsized: Base Boxster’s smaller 2.7-litre boxer six is slightly more powerful than the outgoing model’s 2.9, but offers less torque.

Porsche reveals larger and more powerful, yet lighter and more efficient new Boxster

Porsche logo13 Jan 2012

By MARTON PETTENDY

PORSCHE has revealed full details and images of its completely redesigned Boxster roadster ahead of its world debut at the Geneva motor show in March and first Australian deliveries in July.

Appearing for the first time just days after the seventh-generation 911 Cabriolet premiered at the Detroit show, the third-generation Boxster will cap a busy first half of 2012 for Porsche, following the local release of the all-new 911 coupe next month and its drop-top sibling in April.

Said to represent an even greater step change over the second-generation than the 991-series 911 does over the outgoing 997, the 981 Boxster – like the latest 911 – is based on an all-new platform comprising aluminium for the first time, and is therefore lighter despite being larger in all key dimensions.

Also like the new 911, the MkIII Boxster adds more powerful engines despite the entry-level engine being downsized, in this case from 2.9 to 2.7 litres - a Boxster displacement last seen before the facelifted 987-series appeared here in March 2009 – as well as a fuel-saving idle-stop, electrical system recuperation, thermal management and electric power steering systems as standard across the range.

Porsche’s latest mid-engined convertible is therefore quicker, faster and more efficient than ever, even if its aerodynamic coefficient reduces from 0.29 to 0.30Cd due to wider wheel tracks and larger wheel housings designed to accommodate bigger standard wheels and optional rim sizes of up to 20 inches.

The new Boxster, which hits European showrooms in April, is 32mm longer at 4374mm long overall and rides on a 60mm-longer (2475mm) wheelbase, yet remains 1801mm wide and is 11mm lower-slung at 1281mm high, representing the biggest dimensional and proportional change since the original Boxster was launched here in January 1997.

25 center imageIn a relatively radical departure from its two forebears, it is wrapped in a drastically different body featuring vertically stacked headlight elements, LED daytime running lights, shorter overhangs, a shorter bonnet and longer doors with deeply chiselled lower recesses leading to larger, more aggressive side air intakes.

For the first time, there is a built-in 911-style ducktail spoiler and ‘PORSCHE’ lettering at the rear, while the tail-lights are higher and slimmer, the side mirrors are mounted on the doors rather than A-pillars and the S continues to be differentiated by twin central exhaust outlets rather than a single central tail-pipe.

The larger (but still two-seat) cabin features a Carrera GT-inspired raked centre console, dominated by an optional Sport Chrono dial between the two central air-vents rather than on the dash-top.

Significantly, an all-new fully electric fabric hood dispenses with a convertible top compartment lid, stowing fully exposed behind the cabin. The multi-layered roof, which like the new 911 cabrio’s is supported by a magnesium frame but doesn’t incorporate plastic composite panels, is said to liberate more headroom.

Other 911 technologies seen in the Boxster for the first time include dynamic transmission mounts (as part of the Sport Chrono Package option) and Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) with a mechanical rear differential lock.

Compared to its 100 per cent steel-bodied predecessor, base (DIN) unladen weights reduce by 25kg on the entry-level Boxster (now 1310kg manual, which is still 35kg heavier than the existing 1275kg Boxster Spyder), and by 35kg on the Boxster S (now 1355kg).

Both flat six-cylinder engines are now fitted with direct fuel-injection, with the new 2706cc flat six now being technically identical to the 3.4 in the Boxster S.

The standard Boxster 2.7 develops 195kW at 6700rpm (up from the outgoing 2.9’s 188kW), but delivers 10Nm less peak torque at 280Nm between 4500 and 6500rpm – down from 290Nm at 4400-6000rpm.

However, the lighter body reduces fuel consumption by some 15 per cent - from 9.4 to 8.2L/100km (six-speed manual) and from 9.1 to just 7.7L/100km with the optional seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic.

At the same time, the base Boxster sprints to 100km/h in 5.8 seconds as a manual (down from 5.9 seconds), 5.7 seconds as an auto (down from 5.8) or just 5.5 seconds when the latter is optioned with Sport Plus launch control - also down one-tenth. Top speed increases by 1km/h – to 264km/h.

The 2012 Boxster S, meantime, now produces 232kW at 6700rpm (up from 228kW) and the same 360Nm of torque at 4500-5800rpm, yet returns 8.8L/100km (manual – down from 9.8L/100km) and 8.0L/100km (auto – down from 9.4L/100km).

The hotter Boxster’s top speed and acceleration gains are greater, however, with the S maxing out at 279km/h in manual form (up 5km/h) and sprinting to 100km/h two-tenths quicker than before at 5.1 seconds (manual), 5.0 seconds (auto) and just 4.8 seconds.

That will make the next Boxster S just two-tenths slower to 100km/h than the new 3.4-litre entry-level 911 Carrera coupe, which uses 0.2L/100km more fuel.

When it arrives here in six months, the regular Boxster will come standard with Alcantara interior trim, 18-inch alloys and a seven-inch colour touch-screen control, while the S should add 19s, partial leather trim, bi-Xenon headlights and the option of PTV.

Expect the third-generation Boxster to be joined by the equally ground-breaking new MkII Cayman coupe next year. Local Boxster sales were down by seven per cent last year, with 132 sold in Australia in 2011.

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