While the BMW Z4 is one of the coolest two seaters on the market, my recent drive of Porsche’s new Boxster S should tell the boys from Munich that the new kid on the block has brought new performance to the table.
First, the Boxster S is pretty fast. Zero to Sixty for the Porsche happens in 4.8 seconds – and some say that’s a conservative number. That bests the twin turbo charged 4 cylinder Z4 sDrive2.8’s sprint to 60. However, it’s even a little better than the more powerful Z4 sDrive35i’s 5.1 second and ties the sDrive35is’s 4.8 seconds respectively. That seems to give the Porsche the edge. Adding a little NaCl to the wound, the Porsche claims a top race track speed of 173 MPH. That’s quite a bit faster – my research says over 30 MPH higher – than what BMW say their steeds will reach. So I think I give the speed contest to the Porsche.
Porsche also gave the new Boxster S (and the base Boxster) a roomier interior. When you compare the BMW Z4’s interior side by side to the new Boxster, you really do feel like you have more room in every direction in the Porsche. Fans of the Stuttgart cars often use words like “Spartan” or “no frills” or “all business” when talking about their car’s interior. That’s not true for the BMW interiors that exude a real sense of cool European style without lapsing over to gaudy or garish. Porsche must have been paying attention because the Boxster S interior is well done. The leather, metal accents and high quality plastic tell me they aren’t ready to give anything away to BMW. As surprised as I am to say this, the interior style is a tie but the overall edge, once again, goes to Porsche. Ouch!
On the track, the Boxster S felt glued to the road. Yes, others will gripe about the Porsche’s new electric steering (and some definitely have). I think the, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it“, motto is tatooed to the arm of most automotive reviewers but I have to say I think the Boxster’s new steering is just fine. It would take a back to back drive in an older model and a new one to suss out any difference in feel. Since time marches on, I’m OK with the change. The Z4 transmits a sense of what I call “nervous energy” back through the wheel – something I kind of like. However, the Boxster has an elusive quality I like to call “tossable”. So, on the track, give me the Boxster. For a blast down your favorite two lane country lane, they both will bring a smile to your face. So, let’s call it a tie!
As for styling, I think the Z4 is the sharper looking car with creases, “flame” surfaces and that cool long hood. The Boxster, while not exactly a head turner, its looks continue to improve from the kind of blob-like shape in 1997. (Porsche has never been able to deliver the 550 Spyder’s looks we hoped for in the original prototype.) In the looks department – the Z4 is a head turner and you can’t ask much more than that from a car. Let’s give another point to BMW…
My verdict? Well, even though the new Porsche Boxster S is Porsche’s lowest priced car – it’s not exactly cheap. Expect to pay a lot more than the base $61,000 for your Boxster S. In fact, the test driver I had (prepare yourself) wore over $23,000 worth of options. For reference, that would buy you a very nice, brand spanking new, high gas mileage economy car! For reference, a new Z4 starts at $49,000 and while that’s not exactly bargain basement pricing, you could load it up with a lot of options and still not reach the Boxster’s base price. Score another point for BMW.
If you put a gun to my head (and a lot more money in my bank account) I would say that the Boxster S is one heck of a new car and I would love to have one in my stable. However, if you need a new sporty drop top, the Z4 will scratch that itch for tens of thousands of dollars less and I bet you would still be smiling every time you sat behind the wheel. I know I would.
As always, drive them both, check with your banker and make your decision. You can’t make a bad choice.