Determining whether a vehicle is good, bad, or something in between boils down to weighing what you get versus what you give up. If you want performance, you’ll have to give up practicality and giving up practicality means giving up usability. And when you give up usability, why have a car in the first place?
So the ideal is to have a balance, right? Find a car that checks performance, practicality, and usability and you’ve got the perfect car—but does such a thing exist?
I traveled to Los Angeles with one girlfriend, a lot of luggage, and Jalopnik’s entire arsenal of camera gear stuffed into a 2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder, and I can’t recommend doing it any other way.
(Full Disclosure: Porsche gave me a 2016 Boxster Spyder to use for a few days in Los Angeles because, well, you’re not going to reason against it now, are you?)
First off, your experience behind the wheel as a driver doesn’t just depend on your relationship with the vehicle, it depends on your vehicle’s relationship with its surroundings.
If I was driving the Boxster Spyder across the bottom of the ocean, for instance, I’d be miserable regardless of how good the car was. But since I was driving a beautiful white Porsche convertible in Los Angeles, well... you get the idea.
In case you aren’t aware, the Boxster Spyder is a special edition Boxster with less weight, more power, and most importantly, what we once referred to as “a tent for a roof”—a tiny fabric top that is manually operated. It’s the swan song for the outgoing Boxster before it gets replaced by the new 718 Boxster with a turbo flat-four engine.
And since the Boxster Spyder is a convertible, the first thing you should want to do before driving it is make it a convertible, which goes like this:
-Press and hold the unlock button on the FOB for two seconds until the windows roll down halfway, the roof disconnects, and the trunk pops.
-Pop the little gills on the end of the convertible top from the rear hatch. It’s a simple task, but it took me 15 minutes to do the first time.
-Pick the top up from the front, guide it towards the rear of the car then drop it in behind the headrests. Not as easy as holding a button down, but easy enough once you figure it out.
With the sun shining and the top down, I could finally enjoy the car. Except I had entirely forgotten to pack my luggage into the car, and I had a lot of it.
I wasn’t in LA just for leisure—I was meeting CJ Wilson and his race team to film Neat Stuff In Cool Cars at Willow Springs, with all of Jalopnik’s camera gear in tow. I knew the car’s cargo capacity beforehand, but still, it was nerve-wracking to fit it all in the first time.
In the Spyder, you have a trunk and a frunk. The trunk has the same amount of cargo space top up or top down—a refreshing feature in the convertible world.
The frunk is actually a magician’s hat—everything you put in it just disappears. My luggage, my girlfriend’s luggage, and all of Jalop’s camera gear fit between the two spots. The cargo space this car offers rivals that of some SUV’s.
Finally, when I turned the key, I was met with a vigorous howl from the 3.8-liter, 375 horsepower flat-six, the same mill used in the delicious Cayman GT4.
I am a huge advocate for putting tasteful, aftermarket exhausts on cars to give them a sound they deserve, but if you did that on this Boxster Spyder it’d be like slapping Porsche directly in the face. They got it right the first time, especially since you can make it louder with the sport modes.
As it turned out, I needed those sport modes at Willow Springs, where CJ Wilson and his race team insisted I take the Boxster Spyder around the track, considering they had rented the place out for the whole day. And why the hell wouldn’t I?
The first thing you notice is that you’re on track in a convertible, which is a constant reminder to not flip over. The next thing is how the mid-engined layout gives the car a tendency to rotate during cornering—the first time I had really experienced that on track. But as I got more comfortable with the car and my environment I went faster and faster, heel-toeing perfectly like some kind of ace rally, driver until I switched out of sport plus and the car stopped auto-blipping the throttle for me on downshifts.
I immediately switched it back, not because I don’t like to heel-toe myself, but I’d rather devote my attention to the task at hand—going fast around a track without crashing.
I pulled into the pits and took off my helmet to a reassuring collective “nod” from the race team. Not because of my driving, but because of the car. I turned around and noticed where I parked it—right between the GT4s.
Among dedicated track monsters like a BAC Mono and a Cayman GT4 Clubsport, the Boxster Spyder never once looked out of place. Maybe that’s because of its 3.8-liter adapted from the 911 Carrera S, its strikingly good looks (especially in this coat of white), and the worn Pirelli tires after a hard day of driving.
I took this car on track, used it as a camera car stuffed with all my shit, cruised around LA with my girlfriend, and carved up some mountainous back roads. In any of those situations, I never once felt the car was lacking, or was more adept in one scenario versus the other. This isn’t the jack of all trades, it’s a king of them.
That’s what you get with the Boxster Spyder, and in exchange you just have to give up at least $83,095 but probably much more than that, since it is a Porsche after all. And that’s if you can even find one. At this point, the Spyder is all but certainly sold out.
Whatever. Where do I sign?