DRIVEN: PORSCHE BOXSTER SPYDER
Porsche 'does a GT3' with this stripped-down Boxster. Riggers has a go
Thank God (or your preferred deity or absence thereof) that Porsche is still brave enough to make cars like the new Boxster Spyder.
Porsche might earn its living these days from diesel-powered 4x4s, but the appearance of something like the Spyder on the Porsche price lists proves that the folks at Weissach still put plenty of heart and soul into their products.
The performance gain isn't extraordinary either, although 0-62mph in 4.8secs and a top speed of 166mph (124mph with the hood in place) is hardly to be sniffed at. But it's only two tenths of a second quicker to 62mph than a Boxster S, and top speed actually drops 4mph from 170mph.
It's quite easy to understand why Porsche reckons that the Spyder is going to be a little too much for 90 per cent of Boxster customers to stomach.
But what true petrol head really cares about objective facts? The big question is this: is the Spyder a classic case of 'less is more' or are you merely going to be paying more for less?
The devil really is in the detail here. On the outside, there are unique 19in alloy wheels, Porsche logos running along the base of the door line and smaller, more discreet LED daytime running lights. Inside, there are lightweight door trims, fabric loops instead of door handles and lightweight interior door trims, all of which saves around 2kg. Even the top cowl of the instrument cluster has been removed, shaving off precious grams.
What they don't do is really make a massive difference to the way the car behaves on the road. After all, stick a decently chunky adult in the passenger seat and you've lost your hard-won weight saving in one fell swoop. Yes, the turn-in is a smidgen sharper, and the Spyder does feel a little lighter on its feet when you're changing direction, but the biggest difference - unfortunately - is that the 20mm lower ride height makes a rippled B-road a noticeably more jarring experience.
In fact, the Spyder has moved the Boxster closer than ever to the Lotus Elise concept. Imagine an Elise with immaculate build quality, a glorious-sounding flat six, and a roof that's fiddly but effective and that, essentially, is what Porsche has created.
Specify your Spyder with the carbon-ceramic brakes (a not insignificant £5349 extra) and you'll be treated to almost fade-free braking, while the lighter touch they require helps the Boxster feel even more delicately precise.
In the end, whether you go for a Spyder will probably depend on where your priorities lie. It will also depend on whether you want to use it as your primary transport. As an everyday proposition, the Spyder is not really practical. And performance junkies probably won't see the point.