It’s hard not to employ starry-eyed poetry for a car this good. Indeed, driving the Boxster Spyder on a crisp summer’s morning along a fabulous country road, roof down, one phrase keeps recurring: ‘Ode to Joy’. That’s the title of Friedrich Schiller’s poem and his message is a simple one: that joy is needed for life, and heavenly in origin. Yet it turns out it’s from somewhere more tangible and closer to home: Stuttgart.
Let’s start with the engine. Flick the starter and it fires off some poetry of its own — undoubtedly it’s one of the biggest reasons that, if you have the wherewithal, you should spend the extra money over the regular Boxster.
The occasionally inconsistent idle and richer murmur from the twin exhaust tailpipes hints at a motorsport bias, but to find the real joy push the heavy clutch, snick first gear with the short-throw gearlever and work your way up through the six-speed manual gearbox (a PDK dual-clutch auto is mooted, but won’t be on sale for a while).
There’s adequate pull lower down in the rev range, but nothing like the low-end splurge of turbocharged rivals like the TT RS. Which is great, because extracting the engine’s best efforts — that arrive between 4000rpm and the dizzying 8000rpm limiter — is where the Spyder’s true pleasure lies, both in its performance and the melodic tunes it plays. Even the TT RS’s five-cylinder motor struggles to match its aural pleasures. And it certainly performs, as the 4.4sec 0-62mph testifies, but it’s not so quick that it feels inappropriate for the road.
The next joy is the steering, which — and you won’t see this written often — is perfect. There’s no unnecessary heft just to create the impression of ‘sportiness’. It simply does exactly what you want: weights up progressively as you sweep the wheel through a turn, without the inconsistency of a variable ratio rack, such as the one in the TT RS. In fact, it’s so good you never think about the steering, even on the narrowest and testiest road.
Grip is equally impressive and yet still overshadowed by the sublime body control. Yep, the GT3’s roots are felt clearly as the Spyder manages to retain composure over peaks and troughs in the road that would have a Jaguar F-Type skipping and a BMW Z4 M40i bouncing into the undergrowth, and that’s just in its normal setting. Switch it to Sport and any excess movement disappears almost completely.
The Z4 is more comfortable, but the Spyder is firm over only the biggest and sharpest impacts. Somehow it manages to be so supple the rest of the time that you could easily see yourself using it everyday.
There’s one area where its rivals, all of them, trounce it. The roof isn’t the easiest to use, being manually operated with clips to secure the rear corners. But you can leave it down for extended periods, because it’s pretty much bluster free on motorways as long as you have the wind deflector in place and the windows up. Road noise is relatively loud with the roof up, but that’s the same in any Boxster and all of its rivals.