Exploring Hawaii in a Porsche Boxster Spyder

The Big Island of Hawaii is no match for the lightweight, performance-focused Porsche Boxster Spyder.

From Issue Two of the Gear Patrol Magazine.

If you’re hunting for the upshot, let me whittle it down into a single word: truthful. If you understand what that means for a Porsche, then feel free to stop reading and move on. Plenty of photos lie ahead.

If not, allow me to begin our tale by bringing you to Saddle Road, a mélange of chicanes, blind crests and off-camber undulations that bisect the Big Island of Hawaii. Starting from a blazing Pacific coast, drivers first speed across barren lava fields, ascending their way past lush, quaking napier grass as they hurtle towards the sky. For locals and motoring enthusiasts alike, this is a gift of a public road and a proper foil for our topless protagonist. The two in action are astonishing.

The Porsche Boxster Spyder, a spiritual successor to the mid-cen- tury 550 Spyder, isn’t a car that tidily fits into a spreadsheet or marketing plan, but here on Saddle Road all the German zeal makes complete sense. Once you’ve put the top down — a still confounding but somehow wonderfully manual process — and tapped yourself into Sport or Sport Plus mode, it only takes the momentary blur of time between the first light and the first curve for everything to coalesce. Its 375 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque are a perfect prescription of power. According to my given information, 0-60 takes 4.3 seconds, but numbers poorly convey just how the car achieves speed and inhales tarmac. It’s best described as a rushing mechanical yearn. Some cars devour roads, the Porsche Boxster Spyder aches for them.

As I plunge toward the island’s southern perimeter I let out a laugh. A light shower has passed (the top is back down after a quick stop), and Hawaii’s dramatic sun again bears down. The road ahead, peppered with passing points, practically lends itself to spirited maneuvers. The Boxster Spyder is a full sensory experience: the snorting exhaust, the sensation of unprintable speeds, steering feel that borders on connective tissue and a suspension (about a half inch lower than your everyday Boxster) that firmly and quickly dispatches with any road defects. This is a 180-mph two-seat touring car.


The grand sum: With the Boxster Spyder, Porsche put pen to paper and crafted a love letter to itself. Yes, there is its fraternal twin, the track-ready, raucous Cayman GT4. And it shouldn’t be overlooked that a base 911 Carrera is just a stone’s throw away in price. But the Boxster Spyder is just so goddamn fun, so ready to go for mortals that it wears the essence of a Porsche on its hewn bodywork. This is a Porsche that harvests laughs and smiles — or the friendly shaka from Hawaiians — from everyone involved. It’s a car that makes you shuffle your calendar around. The A/C and radio are optional, undoubtedly to reinforce its raison d’être, and conveniences like sound deadening and interior door handles are simply not included. But the fact that it’s available with only a six-speed manual and not Porsche’s bullet- proof PDK dual-clutch transmission summarizes its purpose. This is about as analog as motoring gets in 2016. It’s vinyl.

As Porsche has grown up, so has its engineering apparatus. The company’s future is rushing towards speed with efficiency, hybrid electric powertrains, legions of turbos and lots of science. Good for them. It’s clear that that’s what the world needs, but with a car like the Boxster Spyder, you also remember this is a company with deeply rooted passion, a history for no-nonsense thrills and engineers who remember that the spirit of a car should sometimes be based on gut and instinct.

It’s a heavy crown, but as Porsche continues its quest to find a Porsche for everyone, it hasn’t forgotten about the ones that love a Porsche for being a Porsche. If you love driving — the kind of driving where corners are romanced and third gear is king, then, south of $100,000, the Boxster Spyder may just be the greatest way to move. There isn’t anything like it. And that’s the truth.

Read More in Our Magazine

A version of this story appears in Issue Two of the Gear Patrol Magazine, 286 pages of stories, reports, interviews and original photography from five distinct locations around the world. Subscribe Now: $35

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