What is the Porsche Boxster GTS?
THIS IS the most expensive, most powerful and fastest version of the Porsche Boxster. The GTS is engineered to be a car for drivers who consider themselves purists. String-backed driving gloves are not obligatory, but if you’re the sort of person who likes to set the alarm clock for oh-my-God-o’clock and hit the road while the rest of the world sleeps, the GTS is for you.
Porsche goes as far as to produce a mobile app specifically for GTS drivers or, just as likely, GTS-driver wannabes. Like an exercise app, it allows users to record road routes and share them on social media networks. Unfortunately, the closest user route to the southeast of England, where we tested the car, was in, er, France.
The 2014 Porsche Boxster GTS costs £52,879 (or £55,230 with the PDK automatic transmission) and is based on the Boxster S model, which sets you back just £47,035. What’s changed to justify the price hike?
The 3.4-litre flat-six engine has slightly more power and torque; you get, as standard, PASM (Porsche’s active suspension system), 20in wheels and the Sport Chrono pack – useful if you want to take the car to a track day; and a host of styling tweaks inside and outside signal to those in the know that this is no ordinary Boxster.
On paper the changes don’t sound much, but they result in a transformation, like a supermodel stepping out from the changing rooms and strutting her stuff on the catwalk.
The changes from the Boxster S don’t sound much, but they result in a transformation, like a supermodel stepping out from the changing rooms and strutting her stuff on the catwalk
There’s also a Cayman GTS, essentially the coupé version. But test-drive both and once you’ve experienced the Boxster GTS with the roof down and the wail of the engine behind you on a crisp, bright day, you’ll be hooked.
Forget about the active suspension, dynamic engine mounts, G-force monitor and lap timer. All it takes to win over enthusiastic drivers is a break in the clouds, a few rays of sunshine and the touch of a button: then the GTS shows why it’s the Boxster to have.
As with other models, the roof drops at the touch of a button at speeds of up to 31mph. If you really want to show off, use the key fob to open or close it when standing in the queue at the coffee shop.
Going topless is what brings the Boxster GTS to life over the Cayman GTS. Floor the throttle and your ears are flooded by the distinctive wail of the flat-six engine and snarl of the exhaust. Back off the gas and the exhaust has more snap, crackle and pop than a Kellogg’s factory. Do the same in a Boxster S and you would feel as though you were wearing ear plugs by comparison.
Perhaps these changes are in response to the Jaguar F-type V8 S – a car that Jeremy Clarkson described as sounding like a snorting hippo.
Whatever, it works. The driver looks out over the front wings, the low-slung driving position is excellent and there is a general feeling of being connected to the car as it pivots around the driver.
The GTS weighs 1,420kg but feels lighter. Our test car came with the sports suspension pack, a free option that lowers the ride height by an extra 10mm over the existing PASM model, itself already 10mm lower than a Boxster S. The ride is firm, but the benefit is a car that stays flat through bends and doesn’t float over crests or coming out of depressions.
Going topless brings the Boxster GTS to life. Floor the throttle and your ears are flooded by the distinctive wail of the flat-six engine. Back off the gas and the exhaust has more snap, crackle and pop than a Kellogg’s factory
This encourages spirited driving. As does the engine, which revs with the enthusiasm of a dog chasing down a stick, right the way to 8000rpm. What a pleasure to use an engine that’s naturally aspirated and calls for commitment to get the best from it. Most performance cars have turbos or superchargers, but not the Boxster GTS, and it’s all the more exciting for it.
It takes time to find the GTS’s limits. The wide tyres and mechanical limited-slip differential make it feel glued to the road, so much so that even in damp conditions you can drive confidently with the traction control switched off. The handling balance is as perfect as it gets in a sports car.
Niggles? Well, surprisingly, the brake pedal has too much dead travel, so you need to lean on it hard to haul down your speed for bends. And the ratios for the smooth-shifting six-speed gearbox are too tall; another gear (as in the 911’s seven-speed unit) or shorter ratios would help the engine pick up its heels on winding roads.
What’s more, if you hurry the downshift from third to second gear, the lever can find itself stuck in no man’s land between reverse and second, as it’s possible to lift the guard for reverse.
Shock, horror: the Porsche interior squeaks and rattles. There, we’ve said it. The Boxster GTS looks and feels well made, but your ears are treated to a small symphony of noises as the stiff suspension flexes the body structure.
Still, we’ve known worse. And the cabin does feel special enough to justify the car’s £52,879 price. You sit low to the floor, and the view out of the front resembles that of a Le Mans racing car. Ahead is a red rev counter with the GTS insignia while to the right sits an information display that can tell the driver how many g they’re pulling around a bend, or when to shift up to the next gear.
The three-spoke sports steering wheel is notable for a complete absence of buttons and controls, reaffirming the sense that this is a car for purists.
The sports seats clamp driver and passenger tightly in place, and with the roof closed it’s a snug, quiet environment – especially in standard driving mode. Switch it to Sport Plus (which sharpens the throttle response and turns the exhaust to angry) and lower the roof and the GTS comes alive. Yet the level of buffeting from the wind is acceptable, and the heater and heated seats keep everyone toasty on a cold day.
It’s even practical, with a couple of cupholders that eject from above the glovebox, Porsche’s trademark hinged doorbins and 280 litres of luggage space – a 150-litre compartment in the front and 130 litres in the back.
Our test car came with a number of options that may indicate why Porsche has become one of the most profitable car companies. A digital radio is a £324 option. Heated seats cost £284. If you want to carry a child car seat, Isofix mounts for the passenger seat are £122. The torque vectoring system with mechanical limited-slip differential is £890 and the full infotainment system with navigation is £2,141. And that’s before we get to metallic paint: £558.
The one to buy
Porsche Boxster GTS
- Price: £52,879 (correct at first publication)
- Engine: 3436cc, 6 cylinders, petrol
- Power: 326bhp @ 6700rpm
- Torque: 273 lb ft @ 4500rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
- Acceleration: 0-62mph in 5.0sec
- Top speed: 174mph
- Fuel: 31.4mpg (combined)
- CO2: 211g/km
- Road tax band: K (£635 for first year; £285 thereafter)
- Dimensions: L 4404mm, W 1801mm, H 1273mm
Porsche Boxster GTS rivals
- Audi TT roadster (check used car prices on driving.co.uk)
- Jaguar F-type roadster (check used car prices on driving.co.uk)
- Mercedes SLK (check used car prices on driving.co.uk)