Porsche’s fixation with Nurburgring knows no bounds

The one thing that you didn’t need to know about the new 718 Boxster.

porsche_boxster_05A couple of days ago, Porsche took the wraps off the new 718 Boxster. Arnt Bayer, the boss of the Porsche brand in Malaysia, expounded on the many virtues of the newly revised mid-engine convertible. Truth be told, it is every bit the clever little roadster Herr Bayer portrayed it to be – faster, more efficient, prettier than the previous one. And then we came to the PowerPoint slide about the Boxster S going 16 seconds faster on the Nurburgring circuit compared to the old one. Why?

Faster was always a given, but is it more fun? Arnt Bayer showing off the Boxster S’ lap time on the Ring.

Porsche is at the top of its game. It produces the world’s best sports cars, the kind that makes us wish for no-strings-attached, million-dollar donations wired to our Cayman accounts (the island, not the car). Quite as to why the Nordschleifer needs to be referenced upon a cheery soft-top like the Boxster S is anyone’s guess. I would understand if this was the launch of the 911 GT3 RS or even the Turbo S, after all, a warp-speed lap around the 20.8km-long Nordschleifer (with 73 corners no less) is a supercar’s badge of honour.

porsche_boxster_04But does a Nordschleifer lap time really matter to a potential Boxster buyer? Was the 7:42 set with a tailwind on the Döttinger Höhe straight? Was the top up or down? Did Walter Rohrl have his nasi lemak with teh halia that morning? More importantly, why is one of Porsche’s most approachable and emotive product being reduced to a set of numbers?

porsche_boxster_02With more variants to be spawn (e.g. there are 16 variants of the 911, the last we counted), I would imagine Porsche’s challenge in recent years has been for the large part identifying and differentiating its customer base. The 718 Boxster should be one of the simplest to communicate with its distinctly charming, wind-in-the-hair disposition – it’s about having fun. Instead Porsche is pitching you its Nordschleifer lap time, promising even more performance. If that’s the case, wouldn’t you rather wait for the Cayman S instead?

The 718 moniker refers to the open-top two-seater Porsche raced in the 50s and 60s, it had a horizontally-opposed four-cylinder that was mid-ship mounted, just like what you’ll find in the new 718 Boxster S. The 718-series marks the end of six-cylinder engines for the Boxster/Cayman models and the beginning of turbocharged four pots. The 718 Boxster is powered by a 300hp/380Nm 2.0-litre unit, while the Boxster S by a 350hp/420Nm 2.5-litre; 0-100km/h times are 4.9 seconds for the Boxster, and 4.4 seconds for the Boxster S. Prices start from RM480,000 for the base-spec Boxster and RM620,000 for the entry Boxster S.

There was a time when peddling the Boxster needed no chest thumping but only a well-written, heart-tugging script narrated by Patrick Stewart. Compare that to the latest one below it.