May 20, 2008
Abbotsford, British Columbia – Just when I thought the engineers at Porsche had perfected the Boxster with last year’s revised Boxster ‘S’, they’ve gone and created a very special limited production unit to commemorate one of the company’s most storied cars, the Porsche 718 RS 60 Spyder. This was a car based on the legendary 550 Spyder, but further refined to tackle the racing discipline of hill climbing. Drivers seeking to make a name for themselves in this category required a car with outstanding manoeuvrability and enough grunt to accelerate out of the hairpin corners that tend to make-up these tests of man and machine. It was also the car that helped the company kick off its long legacy of victories in international road racing, after drivers Hans Herrmann and Olivier Gendebien proved its mettle by taking victory in the 1960 12 Hours of Sebring.
To honour the many accomplishments of the original RS 60, Porsche plans to produce a mere 1,960 units (a number selected to commemorate its forbearer’s initial year of production) of the Boxster RS 60 Spyder. Each car is fitted with an individually numbered dash plaque to remind you that this is a special car.
Buyers have no choice when it comes to colour, as all RS 60 Spyders will be cloaked in “GT Silver Metallic” paint. This stems from the fact that most early competition Porsches were either awash in silver paint, or sported bare metal finishes in an effort to save a few ounces of weight. Cars presented in the latter state still appeared silver, which served the company well, as silver was the colour selected to represent racing cars of German origin by La Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), auto racing’s governing body. Boxster RS 60 Spyders can be fitted with either a black roof complimented by a grey and black interior, or lucky owners can go for big style points and choose the deep red top matched with the classic “Carrera Red” leather interior.
The interior layout is unchanged from that of a Boxster ‘S’, but when you open the door to slip behind the wheel you will catch a glimpse of the stainless steel door entry guard that features the “RS 60 Spyder” graphic. The sport seats, inner door panels, three-spoke steering wheel (similar in design to that used in 911 ‘S’ models), and handbrake lever all feature embossed leather unique to this car that almost looks perforated, but is in fact textured for enhanced grip. Further interior highlights include a red leather wrapped gear selector knob and silver seatbelts. The GT Silver Metallic colour scheme is carried throughout the cockpit, as the centre console, seat backrests and the twin roll hoops are also coated with this historic shade of paint.
Boxster fans will notice that the car’s instrument cluster has a decidedly different look when compared to other models. Porsche designers have removed the dash cap that usually hides the gauges away from view to give the car a more authentic, competition look. The gauges themselves have been set farther apart and feature black markings on attractive silver faces. While I like the look of the naked gauge cluster I did notice a major drawback of this design. The gauges feature wide finishing rings painted with the same high polish silver paint as the car’s body. This leads to a major problem when driving towards the sun. At one point I was ready to break out my camera to capture photographic evidence of extraterrestrial life, as I kept having close encounters with a trio of UFOs that would appear intermittently in the sky above the road ahead. I soon realized that I was merely seeing the sun reflecting off the gauges which projected three orbs of bright light on the windshield at eye level. These hotspots were both distracting and annoying and I must admit I never got used to them. The solution would be as simple as to paint the gauges matte black like the rear portion of their body cups, or to fit a smaller dash cap over the gauge rings.
I was very surprised to find that Porsche designers have fitted the rear deck of this car with the standard “Boxster S” script rather than with “Boxster RS,” or perhaps just “Spyder” nomenclature, so you will have to know what other details to look for to recognize an RS.
On the outside, you can differentiate an RS 60 from a standard Boxster “S” by looking for a handful of subtle styling cues that are unique to this car. If you approach from the rear you will notice that the taillights are completely red, unlike the standard issue ones that feature dual-coloured lens.
As you continue your walk around, the exterior of the car appears unchanged, but my local Porsche PR representative pointed out that the soft-top’s rear window is slightly larger than that of other Boxster models. This is probably a sign of things to come and gives the car’s passenger compartment a less claustrophobic feel than in the past. As a larger individual, I see these as a big improvement.
The Spyder sits on very stylish 19-inch, Porsche SportDesign wheels wrapped in meaty, low profile tires. At first glance these appear to be of even greater diameter as they really fill the car’s wheel wells, especially when compared to the 18-inch wheels fitted to garden variety Boxster “S” models. A more aggressive stance was achieved by utilizing five-mm spacer plates with these wheels, and it seems to have enhanced handling as well. The car still feels light and tossable, but the extra width seems to bring a touch more stability when cornering. Bright red, four-piston, aluminum brake calipers (emblazoned with the Porsche name) and big ventilated discs peek through the fine spokes of the lightweight alloys, hinting at this car’s performance potential.
Finally, at the front of the car you will find that the spoiler now incorporates two small lip extensions, which apart from giving the car some extra flair, also improve aerodynamics. You will also notice that the windshield surround and pillars are black rather than body coloured, which is reminiscent of the look of the original RS 60 Spyder. This simple modification seems to make the windshield look less prominent which in turn, makes the car look lighter.
The beauty of the Porsche Boxster RS 60 Spyder is not only skin deep. The big news is the fact that the horizontally-opposed 3.4-litre flat-six has been massaged to produce 303-horsepower, making it the first Boxster model to break the 300-hp barrier (the Boxster ‘S’ offers 295-hp). Torque on the other hand, remains the same as that of a standard Boxster ‘S’, that being 251 lb-ft @ 6,250 rpm. Eight horsepower doesn’t sound like much, but in a car weighing a mere 1,355 kilograms, the extra grunt means you will sport a bigger grin on your face next time you participate in a track day.
The car can be configured with either a six-speed manual or an optional five-speed Tiptronic “S” automatic, but if you want to really pay homage to its legendary namesake, you need to stick with a manual transmission.
The Boxster RS 60 comes equipped with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) as standard equipment (optional on Boxster ‘S’), ensuring that drivers can enjoy this dynamic drop-top to its fullest (not to mention safest) potential. The result is performance that will enthrall you every time the road gets interesting, especially when you activate the driver controlled ‘Sport’ mode which gives the car razor-sharp handling. And did I mention the exhaust note? Selecting the ‘Sport’ mode also alters the baffles of the dual-pipe exhaust system to give it less-restrictive flow and an exhaust note that will tickle your ears and echo off the trees as you give your new found ponies some exercise.
Is the RS 60 worth the extra money when compared to the already competent Boxster ‘S’ which retails at $70,200? Porsche claims that the long list of standard equipment that comes as part of the RS 60 package more than makes up for the price differential, and I would agree. A car of this calibre with the exclusivity of low production is a bargain at $81,800. With only 800 of the cars earmarked for North America, I imagine most of these are already spoken for.
Pricing: 2008 Porsche Boxster RS60 Spyder
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