Porsche Boxster RS 60 Spyder (2008) review

By Ben Barry 27 March 2008

By Ben Barry

27 March 2008


Should Porsche dabble with special editions that raid its historical back catalogue? We've just driven the new Porsche Boxster RS 60 Spyder - the car that takes its name from the Porsche Type 718 RS 60 Spyder, the racer that Hans Herrmann and Olivier Gendebien drove to outright victory in the 1960 12 Hours of Sebring. At £45,400 the RS 60 carries a £5500 premium over the standard Boxster S on which it’s based, but it does come loaded with desirable extras and it’s limited to a reasonably low-volume run of 1960 examples.

It’s a homologation special, then?

It ‘reflects the sporting character and design purism of that successful mid-engined, two-seater sports racing car’, according to the PR blurb, but it’s not built to go racing. And the Type 718 certainly didn’t feature a blood red leather interior quite so sumptuous. Some cruder members of the CAR team likened said innards to a ‘tart’s boudoir’ and treated the matching red hood with similar disdain. Thankfully, the RS 60 is also available with dark grey leather and matching black roof, but I’d be brave, risk ridicule and tick the red box. Am I alone? Comments please.

The gear lever, however, is less convincing, the cold, bulky metal knob drawing unnecessary attention to the fact that the six-speed shift simply isn’t as slick as it should be. Another black mark goes against the cheap-looking and no-doubt scratch prone silver paint that covers the centre console – the same aerosol’s been used on the roll hoops and seat backs – while a question mark hangs over the decision to remove the traditional hood from the instrument cluster and spray the binnacles – yep – silver. We drove the RS 60 in less than scorching conditions, yet the silver finish reflected in the top right of the windscreen making it look as though the glass was starting to mist. Not a big deal on dull days, but it could prove annoying in bright sunlight.

Click 'Next' to read our full driving impressionsSo it’s all about the interior?

That’s just the most distinctive bit. Exterior additions include a unique front spoiler, rear clusters finished with a red cast and 19in Porsche SportDesign alloys with spacers on the hubs to make them fill the arches more purposefully. The sports exhaust adds a bit more visual muscle and helps boost power from 295bhp to 303bhp, while Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) allows two-stage in-car adjustment of the suspension settings.

It’s mostly cosmetic, then, but the RS 60 tweaks do affect the driving experience. Firstly the 19s. They might well look great, but the thin rubber is pretty unyielding over secondary imperfections. And if the ride’s a bit jiggly in the default PASM setting, it’s unacceptably harsh in ‘sport’ mode. A world away, then, from the all-of-a-piece feeling, 18s-wearing Cayman we drove recently. Pick modest and reap the rewards, is our advice.

The sports exhaust adds some extra theatre to the start-up procedure without being annoyingly noisy. It also amplifies the Boxster S’s free-revving, deep-lunged sweet spot that takes performance to another level at around 3800rpm, but conversation becomes far harder than it would in the standard car if you’re regularly winding the 3.4-litre out. Great for solo blasts, then, but the other half might not like it.

Verdict

The RS 60 carries a £5.5k premium over the standard Boxster S, but that represents good value when you add up the extra equipment the package combines as standard: full leather, metallic paint, 19in alloys, sports exhaust, plus the added, residual-helping cachet of a limited edition production run.

The RS 60 is a very good car. Most of our gripes are pretty subjective (some staffers disliked the red leather, the silver finish in the cockpit looks a bit naff), but, for me, the optional 19s are the deal breaker. The ride is just too jittery on such slim sidewalls. My advice? Either get the standard Boxster S, tick a couple of boxes and save some cash or blow all £45k on a Cayman S. You won't regret it.

Statistics

How much? £45,400
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 3386cc, 24v flat-six, 303bhp @ 6250rpm, 251lb ft @ 4400rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 5.4sec 0-62mph, 170mph, 26.7mpg, 254g/km
How heavy / made of? 1355kg/steel
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4329/1801/1295

Ratings

Handling 4 out of 5
Performance 5 out of 5
Usability 3 out of 5
Feelgood factor 5 out of 5
CAR's Rating 4 out of 5

Rivals

Other Models

Photo Gallery

  • Porsche Boxster RS 60 Spyder front three quarters
  • Porsche Boxster RS 60 Spyder interior
  • Porsche Boxster RS 60 Spyder badge
  • Porsche Boxster RS 60 Spyder badge
  • Porsche Boxster RS 60 Spyder and the car that inspired it
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  • Porsche Boxster RS 60 Spyder front three quarters
  • Porsche Boxster RS 60 Spyder interior
  • Porsche Boxster RS 60 Spyder badge
  • Porsche Boxster RS 60 Spyder badge
  • Porsche Boxster RS 60 Spyder and the car that inspired it