Porsche Boxster GTS
THREE letters have become an emblem of high performance and sportiness since Porsche adopted them for one of its sports cars back in 1963.
The GTS tag originally given to the 904 more than 50 years ago now adorns the prestige car manufacturer's Boxster model, another mid-engined sports car.
With the promise of great performance and driving pleasure, it was with some excitement that I travelled to the Porsche Experience Centre, based at the Hangar Straight, Silverstone, to drive the Boxster GTS in ideal surroundings.
Porsche's specially-designed track, in a large complex on the edge of the main raceway, incorporates a handling circuit, lengthy straights, a kick plate to see if a driver can recover from a skid, an ice hill and a low friction circuit.
Within minutes of getting behind the wheel of the Boxster, it was clear that the car's uprated 3.4-litre engine, delivering 330bhp, was capable of providing thrilling acceleration out of corners.
As I grew in confidence and became more at ease with the car, it became apparent that the weight distribution in the Boxster meant the car could be driven into corners at considerable speed and would handle superbly and with great stability.
There’s enough of a bias to make the Boxster lively, while being neutral enough for confidence-inspiring cornering balance. It is also very adjustable on the throttle mid-corner, although it's especially rewarding when you gradually push the accelerator just after the apex of the bend, riding the wave of power up to the redline and enjoying the sound from the engine.
In conditions where the car could be opened up and driven as its designers intended, the driving experience was sublime.
When shifting up and down through the gears, the driver is treated to a beautifully precise and mechanical-feeling thanks to the six-speed manual gearbox on the Boxster I was testing.
Alternatively, a PDK ‘box is available and, although I didn't test that particular version, other commentators have described it as smooth and incredibly fast.
On the outside, the Boxster is a classic roadster, with stylish light clusters and much more attractive engine air intake vents on the sides.
Inside, if you're over 6ft tall, you certainly won't be spreading out in oceans of space, but I didn't find the Boxster too cramped during my 90-minute driving experience and the racing seats also offered great comfort.
In terms of safety, I was pretty taken aback by the Porsche Boxster's braking capabilities. In emergency stop situations, the car remains well balanced and can be comfortably steered into another lane under what would normally be considered skid conditions.
In this sense, Porsche brakes set the standard for stopping power and stability.
In terms of not getting into a skid under slippery conditions, the Boxster boasts some impressive technology and systems to keep the vehicle stable. This was especially evident on the 'ice hill' where the anti-slip control system, which prevents the wheels from spinning by adjusting the engine power, really came into its own. To test the difference, I attempted the same treacherous hill with the system switched off and found it almost impossible to control the vehicle in such conditions.
All in all, most motorists will derive great pleasure from a stint at the wheel of this sporty machine.
Porsche Boxster GTS
Performance: 0-62 in 5.0 seconds and top speed of 174 mph
Transmission: Six speed manual
Engine: Uprated 3.4-litre flat-six engine with direct fuel injection producing 330bhp
Fuel economy: 31.4mpg (PDK 35.3mpg).
CO2 rating: 211g/km