"My wife is having trouble getting out of your car." Odd words from a stranger, but that's precisely the sentence that greets me as I walk out of a coffee shop on the side of Hawaii's Māmalahoa Highway. Seems the woman who just moments ago excitedly asked to check out my car (a 2016 Boxster Spyder—on loan, I'm sorry to say), is now having a bit of difficulty figuring out just how to get out of it.
Can't blame her—the nylon loops the Spyder uses in place of traditional door handles can be a bit of a surprise at first, and that's not the only design choice that sets this car apart. The convertible's transmission is manual, as is the roof, and the process of securing it has been winnowed down to just 5 moves from the 16 required by previous models.
This redesign alone is responsible for 22 of the 67 pounds the 2016 Spyder shaves off its predecessor's weight. The latest Boxster offering from the German automotive powerhouse also has neither air conditioning nor radio, all the better for performance (if not for comfort)—and, in that pursuit, ultra-lightness is of the utmost importance. (OK, tunes and AC are optional extras, but the point remains the same: speed, handling, and oneness with the road are what Porsche has prioritized in the design of its latest roadster.)
Porsche's engineering team approached this new Spyder with the goal of eliminating all the false moves they possibly could, and the speed and handling have benefitted accordingly. Described by some as a sibling to the GT4, the sportiest of the especially sporty models in Porsche's celebrated Cayman line, the Spyder is designed to be as well-rounded a machine as possible, which is why I'm here on the big island of Hawaii. With the broad range of environments on offer—barren lava fields, grassy plains, rainforests—this should be as good a place as any to put the car through its paces.
Turns out all that talk of design improvement isn't just salesmanship: you feel it the moment you get to open up the car. The handling is responsive, and sharper than any of Jon Hamm's tuxedos, and the thing gets from 0-60 in 4.3 seconds (I have this on good authority, not firsthand experience—there are police around). I take Hawaii's famed Saddle Road inland, soaking up as many rolling green vistas as I can while navigating this government-funded rollercoaster. It's a well-known fact in the automotive community that the ultimate way to test a clutch is to put it in the hands of a born-and-bred New Yorker, so if this one's friendly to me, it certainly bodes well for car enthusiasts the world over. The transmission, indeed everything about the Spyder, shines here; challenges become treats in the hands of this vehicle. Go on, give me another sweeping righthander. And another!
Rain tends to come down in the late afternoon here, but today it's nowhere to be seen, which means more time behind the wheel, the ocean breeze rushing around me. Honestly, when the engine sounds like this, who needs a radio anyway? Or door handles, for that matter.
For more, see porsche.com.