Who would be interested in a 2011 Porsche that lacks stereo, air conditioning, cupholders – and uses nylon pulls for interior door handles? Jerry Seinfeld, for one. The comedian and TV star is just one of the many Porsche aficionados smitten with the new 2011 Boxster Spyder.
Porsche recently introduced its 2011 Boxster Spyder, a special version of its mid-engine roadster, to automotive media in California. The event included driving along some of the most scenic parts of the Pacific Coast Highway. And it also included a guest appearance by one of the brand’s top fans and collectors, Mr. Seinfeld. If you were a fan of Seinfeld’s long-running, eponymous TV show, you might remember seeing photos or paintings of Porsches sprinkled around his apartment. One of those was a Porsche RSK Spyder, a rare racecar that Seinfeld owns. He graciously brought it along to display for the media event.
The name “Spyder” occupies a very special place in Porsche racing heritage. It was reserved for the lightest open racecars. The 2011 Boxster Spyder is purely a road car, but it still had to earn its name. Already a light car – as a genuine sportscar should be – the Boxster dropped 176 pounds for its new role.
The Boxster Spyder is all about maximum performance, and some comfort items were sacrificed to achieve that goal. The new Spyder is indeed light at 2,811 pounds, compared to the Boxster S at 2,987 pounds.
Porsche buffs will immediately recognize a certain familial connection to the Spyders of the 1950s and 1960s, which had model designations like “550,” “718” and “RSK.” At the rear, “power domes” flow rearward from the rollover bars to blend into the engine cover. “Minimalist” is the idea behind the simplified rear side air intakes and front radiator inlets. The “Porsche” side graphics were borrowed from 1960s designs.
Something else is missing…the roof! A major weight savings came from eliminating the power convertible roof. In its place, there is a snap-in sun and weather shield that one person can easily attach. The idea, however, is that the Boxster Spyder is the pure form of a roadster, meant to be enjoyed with the top off and windows down.
Does that make the Spyder a fair weather friend? Maybe. But the Spyder is your best driving companion when the road turns twisty, thanks to a special sport suspension that lowers the car by around 0.8 inches. “Hugging the road” takes on a literal meaning.
To make the most of the weight reduction, the 2011 Boxster Spyder also gets a power boost over the Boxster S. The Spyder’s 3.4-liter six-cylinder boxer engine belts out 320 hp and 273 lb/ft of torque, versus 310 hp and 266 lb/ft for the Boxster S. The result is a remarkable weight-to-power ratio of just under nine pounds per horsepower. All the latest Porsche engine technology is present including direct fuel injection and VarioCam® Plus valve control. The exclusive dual tailpipe finished in black emits a powerful bark, made more so by the optional Sport Exhaust.
The engine is teamed with your choice of a crisp-shifting six-speed manual transmission or the all-new seven-speed PDK double-clutch automated manual. You can shift it manually or leave it in automatic mode, where it reads the road and engine performance to always keep you in the right gear.
Zero-to-60 mph rockets by in a mere 4.7 seconds in the Spyder equipped with the optional PDK transmission, and 4.9 seconds with the six-speed manual. Top track speed is 166 mph.
If you’ve read this far, and you actually find the lack of certain comfort amenities endearing, then you are truly a diehard and will definitely want to know the Boxster Spyder’s “diet” secrets. It takes a lot to remove 176 pounds from a modern automobile. Here are just a few examples: aluminum doors reduced weight by 33 pounds, special sport seats cut 26 pounds compared to the standard Boxster S seats and deleting air conditioning chops another 26. There’s no radio – a 6.6-pound savings – but you can listen to the engine’s music.
The rest of the Boxster Spyder follows the minimalist approach. Making a Starbucks run could pose a problem, though, since there are no cupholders, but why stop for coffee? Driving the 2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder on the right road is all the stimulation you’ll need.