Objects of Desire June 2013

Tempted by Tweety

emily-atkins100By Emily Atkins, Provinz Publisher

It’s not the first time I’ve driven a Boxster, and it’s not the first time I’ve been tempted into thoughts that things could be very different in my driveway and at the track. But there was something particularly compelling about the week I recently spent behind the wheel of a brand new “racing yellow” 2013 Boxster S.

From the moment the brilliant canary caught my eye, still a block away, I could feel the excitement rising. Giddy like a kid going on a rollercoaster ride, I hurriedly signed the 12 pages of paperwork Porsche finds necessary before handing over the keys for one of its babies to a member of the press. I tried to hide my enthusiasm and adopt the appropriately jaded mien of the experienced car reviewer, but who was I kidding?

It was a sunny spring day, warm enough to put the top down, the car had a manual transmission and whoever optioned it had chosen beautiful, yellow seat belts to match the body. Sweet. Never mind it still had winters on. Never mind that an envious colleague dismissively nicknamed it Tweety Bird. I didn’t care.

From the moment the cockpit snugged me in I was truly hooked. The exterior was flash, for sure, but driving this car is a dream. It has everything my 944 is missing; isn’t it funny how you suddenly notice features you hadn’t known were lacking?

Where the 944 is sluggish and slow, waiting for the turbo to spool up, the Boxster S just goes—fast—without complaint. Where the 944’s clutch is quite firm, Tweety’s is quick and forgiving. The steering is so easy; I realized I only have biceps because of driving the 944 with its stiff wheel. (If Tweety were mine I’d have to spend more time on my arms at the gym.)

There’s nothing quite like having your eyes opened to the flaws of your current ride by a younger, faster version. After all, the Boxster S holds the same place in the current Porsche lineup as the 944 Turbo did back in the 80s—the higher level of the entry-model car.

One of the epiphanies we all probably have at some point in our cars is that people look at them. But different people look at different Porsches. With the 944 it’s usually guys in the mid-forties age range who check it out. Tweety appealed to a broader range, including more women and younger people. Or maybe it was just that I was driving around in marginal weather with the top down and they thought I was nuts.

I drove the yellow bird around for my full week, even heading out to say hello at the first IDS. Although the car did get a good workout, I am looking forward to an upcoming Porsche event to try it out on the track.

In the meantime, I’m back in my silver car, driving the track and autocross with gusto. And you know, there’s an important lesson I learned from my week with Tweety. Having such a beautiful brand new vehicle is definitely a treat and a privilege, but it also carries a great deal of responsibility and not a little stress. We all know that sickening feeling when the first scratch or dent arrives on a new car. Now imagine if you had to take a borrowed car back with a scratch or dent. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened, but it does make me appreciate my less-than-perfect 944 for the relaxed feeling I have when driving it.

It’s also given me an even greater appreciation for the robustness and enduring style of Porsche cars in general. You don’t see too many other marques of car where a major percentage of the vehicles in an active, track-driving club are twenty years old or better.

So, while I’d be happy to adopt Tweety to park beside the silver car, I’m happy just the same with the old turbo.

But ask me again once I’ve driven the new Cayman.

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