It's tough to think of a better way to celebrate 80-degree July weather than with one of Zuffenhausen's finest roadsters. The Porsche Boxster S is simply one of the most enjoyable ways to travel your favorite roads. Sure you can bomb along at 120 mph without much warning (aside from the howling wind), but the Boxster also rewards a responsible driver in a way that few fast cars can. Even at nearly legal speeds, the car's impeccable balance, grip, and road feel are a joy.
Everyone seems to love the fancy new PDK gearbox, but that praise seems to be for cars also fitted with the optional Sport Chrono Package, which adds a sport button (and $1320 on top of the price of the PDK). Without the sport button, the PDK's impressive reflexes are a little dulled. It's still possible to select the gears manually, but I find the push up/pull down nature of the stick to be unnatural and the buttons on the wheel are not as user-friendly as a traditional set of paddles. I know Porsche owners moving from Tiptronic-equipped cars to the PDK system are used to the wheel-mounted buttons, but everyone else will probably find the system to be counter-intuitive.
Your best bet is to opt for the six-speed manual, saving $3420, and use that money to add sport exhaust, Porsche's active suspension management, and other go-fast goodies. Actually, the frugal enthusiast could opt for an absolute base Boxster's mere 255 hp and $46,600 sticker and not be let down. These roadsters are so much fun to drive and the slower car isn't slow.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor