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Porsche Boxster S



##porsbox.jpg --Right##THE Boxster S is the high performance model in the Boxster range, implying that the original 2.5-litre 204bhp version was somehow underpowered as it raced from 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds. That engine has now been replaced by a 2.7-litre 220bhp unit capable of 155mph on the autobahn, but it is the Boxster S that is expected to have a halo effect on the range and bridge the gap between the Boxster and 911.

The S has a straight-six 3.2-litre 252bhp power unit capable of a 0-62mph charge in under six seconds and a top speed in excess of 160mph. In styling terms, the Boxster S is little different to its standard counterpart, except twin exhaust pipes, 17in instead of 16in alloy wheels, aluminium touches to the instrument dials, and a leather-covered three-spoke steering wheel.

This might seem like a minor enhancement, but when the Boxster's options include a selection of steering wheels costing up to £1,217 it is clear that this is no normal fleet specification list. The S also gains automatic air conditioning, an £1,850 option on the standard car, and an electrically-operated cabriolet hood that folds away beautifully in just 12 seconds. But it is on the road where the £42,161 Boxster S really differentiates itself over the £34,232 standard version, with an extra 32bhp on tap, and a huge increase in torque to 350Nm at 4,500rpm compared to 260Nm at 4,750rpm.

This translates to blistering acceleration at almost any speed, and the opportunity to treat the car as an automatic with so much in-gear pulling power. This would be a shame, however, because the wonderfully weighted, short-throw six-speed gearbox is a delight, as forgiving to average drivers like myself as it is enticing to genuine racers. Tiptronic transmission is available for an extra £2,600. Upgraded brakes with ventilated and perforated discs, and fixed red-painted light alloy callipers, bring the car to a halt with reassuring control, and official Porsche figures indicate that 62-0mph deceleration takes just 2.7 seconds and 37.7 metres.

The most startling feature of the Boxster S, however, is how easy it is to drive. Where my last experience in a Porsche 911 induced panic in the wet, particularly round bends, the flat-six mid-engined Boxster is better balanced and easier to handle. The more time spent behind the Boxster S's wheel, the easier it is to make a case for the car as an everyday 'runaround' that offers something special for the weekend.

When the roof is down, driver and passenger can talk to each other without a loud hailer, there's still an uninterrupted 260 litres of storage space in the front and rear, and fuel consumption of 26.5mpg on the combined cycle is no disgrace. A waiting list of about 18 months will put the Boxster S out of the reach of most drivers, but a CAP forecast residual value of almost £24,850 at three years and 30,000 miles gives the car a more appealing wholelife cost profile.

A few years ago the prospect of Porsche selling into fleet would have been unheard of - unless it developed a diesel estate. But now the vast majority of Boxsters are sold to companies, many of them small businesses, and the growth of cash-for-car schemes has opened access to this type of sports car to a whole new band of company car buyers.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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