2007 BMW Z4 M Roadster vs 2006 Porsche Boxster S

Tim Andrew
2007 BMW Z4 M Roadster vs 2006 Porsche Boxster S

Then we jump into the Boxster S and repeat the route. The Porsche feels like a glove around us, and all the primary interfaces with your feet and your hands are ideal. The clutch pedal provides just the right resistance. Gearshifting is great, with short throws and precise engagement. The steering feels telepathic compared with the BMW's. The wheel requires minimal input, and it's easy to place the car perfectly in a corner. Everything about driving the Boxster is fluid and predictable.

After the last glimmer of sunlight disappears and the cameras are stowed in the BMW's trunk, we set off in our roadster duo on A-375, which wends, bends, and sweeps through thirty deserted miles of national forest. This narrow, newly paved Andalusian byway is about as fine a road to test a sports car's mettle as any we've ever driven. It has constant camber changes, dips, and turns and nary a house in sight, although our headlights do pick up a few grazing cows at the unfenced roadside. Dozens of minor bridges are lined with white-painted blocks of concrete, the better to interrupt your four-wheel-drifting path into a ravine if you overestimate your driving abilities. The few oncoming cars announce their presence via headlights stabbing through the darkness, so it's easy for us to use the whole road. We hustle the BMW from corner to corner, braking hard, slamming the shifter between second and third gears, and mashing the accelerator. The BMW's wind blocker, robust heater, and warmed seats keep the nighttime chill at bay. The rear brakes begin to squeal, but their performance is not compromised.

If the Z4 M roadster were the only car we drove on this magnificent road, we'd walk away perfectly happy-thrilled, even-with its performance. But then we trade the BMW for the Porsche, and the Boxster demonstrates once again that it is the more natural performer. It seems custom-built for this road as it shrugs its shoulders at hairpin after hairpin. Its brakes never protest the harsh treatment we subject them to, and its wailing flat-six provides plenty of power. On this road, the Porsche makes us feel like we couldn't possibly cover ground faster or more easily in any other car.

At the end of this fantastic drive, A-375 deposits us in the village of Alcal de los Gazules. As we trundle through the little town's main drag toward the autovia, the booming cadences of a marching band drift into our open cockpits. Surprisingly enough, on this dark Wednesday evening in February, a large, well-tuned student ensemble is stepping up a side street toward us, brass instruments blaring, drums pounding. Is this a celebration of some obscure Spanish holiday? Not that we know of, and Ash Wednesday is still two weeks away. We conclude, then, that the lively music is a salute to our two roadsters and the incredibly invigorating drive we have just finished in them. But the high note undoubtedly remains the Boxster S, because the two days we've spent in these two highly desirable sports cars has confirmed that the Porsche is still the one to beat.

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