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When Porsche introduced the Boxter as a less expensive alternative to its Carrera 911 line, critics were impressed with its looks and handling — and its price. But the so-called Baby Porsche nevertheless left many automobile enthusiasts distinctly underwhelmed. The problem: It just wasn’t powerful enough. All that has now changed with the addition of a new 3.2-liter, 320-horsepower engine. Today’s Boxter takes full advantage of mid-chassis placement, an outstanding transmission, and first-rate suspension and brakes, which, combined, make it one of the premier roadsters of our time. As with all Porsches, the instrumentation of the Boxter S tells much of the story. The largest gauge — front and center — is not the speedometer but the tachometer. And if you’re not used to a car that can actually handle approaching its rpm redline, it may take you a while to become aggressive enough with the upgraded Boxter. But its relentless dynamo and a throaty exhaust note will be all the inspiration you need. Having the engine behind the seats makes for a noisy cabin, but it also means that the Boxter S has perfect inertial balance. The suspension doesn’t have to compensate for anything heavy up front or in back. Couple 7,500 rpm with a stunning amount of torque, and you’ve got a car that handles virtually any driving condition in the 20- to 80-mph speed range in third gear. On mile after mile of narrow, twisting New England country roads, the Boxter S was little short of perfection. Even at the low-speed beginnings of steep hills, the roadster powered its way through the course in breathtaking fashion. The verdict: The Porsche Boxter S is no longer the “baby sibling” that it once was. The Boxter S has, instead, evolved into a great road car that offers enthusiasts a distinct set of driving characteristics — delivering an experience comparable to that of the Acura NSX at about two-thirds the NSX’s nearly $90,000 sticker price.
Porsche Boxter S: M.S.R.P.:$50,200 Price as tested:$57,452 Mileage:18 city/26 highway Warranty:4 years/50,000 miles, with 10-year limited anticorrosionprotection

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