First drive: Porsche Boxster Spyder
What's white, has two protruding humps and goes like the clappers? No, not Katie Price, silly, it's this of course, the Porsche Boxster Spyder.
Sorry, that really was uncalled for, especially when we're in the presence of an all-time great... because that's exactly what the Boxster Spyder is.
At first some people might find it hard to work out what the point of it is. Porsche has stripped it of most niceties - like door handles - and it does without an electric roof, replaced instead by a rudimentary piece of canvas and cling film stapled to the bodywork. Even Porsche admits only around 100 will find homes in the UK each year.
But then you get behind the wheel and everything instantly makes sense. This Porsche is a driver's dream and on the incredible Welsh roads where we tested the Boxster it was a sheer delight.
At first it feels twitchy, on edge, alive. The steering has so much feel, it's light and wriggles in your hands – and that takes some time to get used to. But settle in, tune into the sensations and feedback this stunning Spyder is transmitting and it rewards you with a drive of your life.
Power comes in linear and fast. That 3.4-litre, 320bhp unit is a gem and, coupled with the Spyder diet, produces impressive performance figures. The sprint to 60mph is dispatched in 5.1 seconds and the way it translates that power into forward momentum so easily will have you beaming from ear to ear.
What makes the Spyder so good is the fact it can utilise every single one of its 320 horses, efficiently and effectively. Higher-powered sports cars will out-drag it on the straights, but point the Porsche towards some twisties and it'll keep up with pretty much anything. We just wish it sounded more potent – the sports exhaust option is a must.
However, it's not just about what's under that shapely hood. This car looks positively stunning too. In the ice white paintwork our test car came in, it was a crowd-gatherer and those two rear humps behind the headrests have a distinct air of Carrera GT about them.
We even managed to nail taking that 'roof' off. Yes, it is more complicated than an electric set-up, but with practise we got the process down to about two minutes. Fair enough that's not exactly quick - and you wouldn't want to get caught in a downpour – but the hood is where Porsche has achieved most of the weight saving.
The biggest problem we can see with this Porsche though is the name. The 'Boxster' part in its title just doesn't fit. This car is good enough – and unique enough – to have earned its own name altogether. It's a brilliant piece of engineering and one of the all-time Porsche greats – why then, hasn't the maker christened it properly?
Porsche Boxster Spyder
- Price: £45,603
- Engine: 3.4-litre
- Power: 320bhp, 370Nm
- Max: 166mph
- 0-60mph: 5.1s
- Economy: 30.4mpg
- Price: £31,500
- Engine: 2.0-litre
- Power: 175bhp, 188Nm
- Max: 140mph
- 0-60mph: 4.5s
- Economy: 35mpg (est)
It might look like a cross between a go-kart and shopping trolley - but get behind the wheel of a Caterham 7 and you won't be disappointed. Few cars can excite like this, with a 2.0-litre lump and featherweight shell combining for real driver thrills. It's more sparse on equipment than the Porsche but might, and we say might, just have a roof that's a little easier to put up.
Lotus Elise R
- Price: £31,450
- Engine: 1.8-litre
- Power: 189bhp, 180Nm
- Max: 138mph
- 0-60mph: 5.1s
- Economy: 34.4mpg (est)
It's been around quite some time now, but don't let that put you off. If you're after a focused weekend car that's high on thrills, the Elise is perfect. With one of the best chassis in the business, it's handling is second to none and is just as quick to 60mph as the Porsche. And if your weekend fun machine isn't complete without a fiddly roof, you're in luck, the Elise has one of those too...