2009 Porsche Boxster S

The Boxster's sterling reputation for balance, capability, and forgivingness is well earned. These traits pay off whether you're driving flat out or just cruising empty back roads. Anyone can feel like a great driver in this car by grabbing a lower gear, stepping on the accelerator, and rocketing through a corner.

I'll readily join the gang griping about PDK. But rather than moan about purist traditions, I'm taking exception with Porsche's execution. Those steering wheel-mounted buttons are terrible. Figuring out whether to push or pull for the next shift typically requires looking down at the steering wheel. Shifting with the wheel turned requires lifting a hand and hunting for the button. Sure, an automaker might be able to get away with this in a midsize sedan, but this is a Porsche! Even though it's not a manual, the transmission is still an integral part of the driving experience. The interface needs to be intuitive and functional when driving fast. The solution is simple: two paddles mounted on the column. Left paddle downshifts, right paddle upshifts. Of course, PDK itself is very good. Shifts are quick and smooth both in auto and manual modes. It's also great at idle, with a decent amount of creep dialed in.

Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor

Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor"...the aural goodness of the Porsche in-line six is far more rewarding. Long live the Boxster." In-line six???

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