Porsche Boxster: First official photographsWed, 11 Jan 2012 00:00:00 -0800
Fresh from revealing the latest 911 cabriolet at the Detroit auto show, Porsche has issued these first official photographs of its third-generation Boxster.
Photos and information about the Boxster appeared on the Internet ahead of the Porsche's planned release time set for early Thursday morning.
Set to get its first public airing at the Geneva motor show in March, the thoroughly re-engineered roadster gets a lightweight aluminum body, a roomier 911-style interior and the choice of two heavily upgraded versions of the German carmaker's classic horizontally opposed six-cylinder--both now boasting direct injection, slight gains in power and, thanks to a host of new fuel-saving features, impressive reductions in combined-cycle fuel consumption.
The most dramatic change is the design theme, which is borrowed from the Carrera GT produced between 2004 and 2006. The Boxster adopts a more cab-forward stance, with the windscreen shifting forward quite significantly, along with heavily sculptured flanks, which now feature longer doors, larger wheelhouses designed to accommodate wheels up to 20 inches in diameter, and a distinctive rear end that adopts a modern interpretation of the classic 911 ducktail treatment.
Along with the new exterior look, which represents the first major break from the look of the original Boxster launched in 1996, comes the first significant dimensional change in the car's illustrious 15-year history. Nothing is official at this stage, but reflecting moves made with the latest incarnation of the 911, Porsche confirms that the new Boxster rides on a longer wheelbase and wider tracks. These added dimensions provide the basis for a roomier interior that takes its cues from that of the new 911.
The new Boxster goes under the internal code name 981, and it now also comes with a fully automatic cloth cover. The multilayered structure, which is supported on a magnesium frame, no longer requires manual assistance, retracting back at the press of a center-console housed button. It now also stows behind the cabin in a fully exposed position, allowing Porsche to do away with the tonneau cover featured on earlier models.
In line with developments brought to the larger 911--a car with which it continues to share its complete front-end substructure--the new Boxster has a body made predominately from aluminum.
Porsche isn't giving away too much detail on the new structure right now. But officials involved in an earlier prototype ride event attended by Autoweek indicate that it weighs more than 220 pounds less than the outgoing second-generation model's all-steel body in a move that--along with reductions in the weight of the car's newly developed magnesium-framed cloth hood--should see the base Boxster hit the scales at less than 2,866 pounds, despite the increase in dimensions and what Porsche describes as “greater levels of standard equipment.”
The aluminum body is aligned to an all-new chassis boasting a longer wheelbase and a significantly wider front track. The suspension retains MacPherson struts up front and a multilink arrangement at the rear but now supports the larger wheels and tires, up from a previous 19 inches. The bigger wheels also support larger brakes.
Arguably the most significant change to the Boxster's mechanical makeup is the steering, which like that of the new 911 eschews hydraulic assistance for a new electromechanical system developed in partnership with ZF.
In a further link with the new 911, Porsche gave the third-generation Boxster a downsized base engine. Previously 2.9 liters in displacement, the new model adopts a comprehensively reworked, horizontally opposed six-cylinder reduced to 2.7 liters--the same size of the base engine offered in the first-generation Boxster model, the 986, following its facelift in 2000.
Despite the reduction in swept volume, the new base engine kicks out 261 hp. The Boxster S, on the other hand, retains the same 3.4-liter engine as the model it replaces. However, it too was revised for greater efficiency, with power climbing to 310 hp.
As before, buyers of the new Boxster will be offered the choice between a standard six-speed manual and an optional seven-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox--the latter with revised software for what Porsche describes as “more rapid and smoother shifts” along with a so-called sailing feature that, like that seen on the 911, automatically decouples the engine during periods of tailing throttle on downhill grades, cutting engine revs to just 700 rpm for brief periods of added fuel saving.
When running the optional PDK gearbox, the new Boxster is claimed to hit 62 mph in 5.7 seconds with the Boxster S reaching the same performance benchmark in 5.0 seconds. Further gains in straight-line performance are promised by the adoption of Porsche's optional Sport Chrono package, which now brings dynamic gearbox mounts.
Further driveline developments center on the adoption of Porsche torque vectoring, which provides the rear-wheel-drive roadster with a mechanical differential, although it will likely be available only on the Boxster S.
By Greg Kable