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Six years ago, Porsche answered buyers’ prayers with the limited-run 911R, combining the GT3’s engine with
a six-speed manual gearbox and a gratifying dose of retro styling.
Since then there has been no shortage of enthusiast specials: it’s as if the team at Stuttgart has been lifting sketches from cognoscenti notepads and adding them to the production roster.
Nearly 30 years ago, the Boxster concept shown at the 1993 Detroit Auto Show might have seemed like someone’s dream of a modern-day 550 Spyder, but it was, in fact, far more of a rational response from a troubled Porsche that simply could not afford to be fanciful with product planning.
Yet despite this forced hand, the resulting production Boxster of 1997 not only stayed true to the marque’s principles but was also a runaway success, driving a large portion of the firm’s enviable profitability today.
The Boxster 25 marks the anniversary with an evocative reinterpretation of the show car, dressing the flagship GTS 4.0 with GT Silver paint, wheels and intakes finished in a copper-like ‘Neodyme’ hue, and the interior trimmed in striking Bordeaux Red.
Curiously, not quite the Arctic Silver over a more terracotta-like ‘Boxster Red’ of the early models and the show car, but it is nonetheless an impressive display of Porsche’s Individual and Heritage Design departments.
It pulls off the look surprisingly well.
Even more surprising is the sense of mechanical connection to this brand-new car.
The detuned GT4 engine flutters with metallic rawness, and the related manual gearbox (albeit with a slightly longer throw) has a positive, competition feel.
It’s nice to have analogue dials, too, arranged as they were in the original Boxster but here with a new, more serious typeface and an adjustable digital readout on the right.
With 395bhp at 7000rpm, just 700rpm shy of the limiter, the Boxster 25 retains the original’s intoxicating flat-six howl, only here the punch at the top end flings you towards the horizon with supercar-like urgency.
A switchable exhaust system adds welcome volume, but suffers from a flat, subdued note at lower revs.
Around Bicester’s little airfield circuit it felt surprisingly playful, and the brakes proved as unburstable as the rest of the car.
It was even better on a loop of Wales, where the superb steering and addictive engine made great driving roads even more special.
It feels alive in a way I’d feared was lost to today’s chastised and computerised cars.
There were moments when pulling up at a mountain viewpoint in this silver-over-red Porsche, or at the small attended petrol station in Bala, that the 25’s character shone back as brightly as the original Boxster – maybe even the 550 – and I thought: okay, you’ve got me.
Images: Will Williams
- Engine dry-sump 3995cc flat-six, fuel injection; 395bhp @ 7000rpm; 310lb ft @ 5000rpm
- Transmission six-speed manual, RWD
- 0-62mph 4.5 secs
- Top speed 182mph
- Mpg 25.9
- Price from £76,993
Buyer’s guide: Porsche Boxster 986