The Porsche Boxster Spyder gives Kevin Yeung the drive of a lifetime
The Porsche Boxster Spyder gave Kevin Yeung the drive of a lifetime as he sped through the Californian scenery
It is 5.30am in California's Pacific Palisades and I'm woken by the ping of a text message from my wife in Hong Kong. I wake up and return a call, but it's still dark, and my friend's family is fast asleep.
With five hours to kill before my flight to New York, I grab a bottle of water and the keys to my friend's Porsche Boxster Spyder. I carefully fold down the top and programme the GPS to Mulholland Highway.
I am en route to the Malibu Canyons. I cruise to allow the Spyder to warm up, and fill my lungs with the freshest air on the planet. The Malibu Canyons are an incredibly scenic mountain pass. But they present the most technically challenging ribbon of asphalt I have ever tackled.
Imagine Shek O Road multiplied by 10. Rock-lined and punctuated by steep drops off cliffs without any safety barriers, this road demands a driver's full attention.
I arrive at the entrance of the canyon pass. With the Spyder properly warmed up, I unleash it in third gear, engage a full throttle upshift to fourth, followed by a brief moment in fifth before approaching a delicious wide left-hander.
I brush the huge ceramic brakes, heel-toe down to third, and then dial in the wheel for my first power slide in California. Many more would follow on this glorious morning.
Back on full throttle, with plenty of visibility, I devour an incredible succession of fast corners, feeling the irregularities of the canyon road at all times on my fingertips. The super-slick gearbox, sharp steering and throttle are perfectly married. It's easy to keep the Spyder on the boil as I carve my way up the first peak, making use of the rev range to extract maximum horsepower of 320 at 7,200 rpm with a boot-load of useful torque.
The Boxster Spyder was born for challenging roads like this. Dancing effortlessly from corner to corner, its accomplished chassis shows off its incredible depth of talent, as I vigorously work the wheel and throttle.
While the mid-engined Boxster is Porsche's entry-level sports car, it's also the company's most dynamically brilliant offering. Its naturally sharp chassis is further enhanced in this ultra-lightweight Spyder guise.
While the Boxster Spyder is not supercar fast, it's very quick and proves to be the perfect weapon for my canyon assault. There are no sport or suspension or throttle settings to select on the Spyder - there's no need. Its set-up is already sensational.
The Spyder's natural abilities are unbelievable: it's quick, light-footed, sharp and adjustable. It's impossibly fluid, the best word to describe its overall performance. What's more, I fell in love with its minimalist good looks immediately.
With no time to admire its beauty, I push on. The Spyder magic is repeated as I tackle my descent and assault the second peak. This time, I engage with slightly more aggression, dialling in increasing doses of lock on wider corners.
It helps that "racing lines" have already been highlighted on the road in black rubber by other "spirited drivers". They clearly show me where to put down the power.
The tyres provide plenty of grip but the 3.4-litre, flat-six engine allows me to easily overpower them and pivot the chassis any way I wish. It's truly surreal just how accomplished and polished the Boxster Spyder's package is.
My friend sold a Porsche 997 GT3RS 3.8 to buy this Boxster, because it is "more fun", and never looked back.
I certainly didn't need any convincing that it was a fantastic car. But this exhilarating drive significantly deepened my love of it. So much so that it's become my favourite driver's car of all time.
I enjoy a final descent, one that treats me to a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean that fills my entire windshield.
I refuel the Spyder and return to the Palisades via the Pacific Coast Highway, pulling into my friend's driveway around 9.30am. He opens the door and greets me with a smile. My buddy nods knowingly, then grins like the Cheshire Cat, and replies: "Yeah, fluid."
Later, on my flight back to New York, I write a letter to friends. They knew that I had recently driven the limited edition hybrid Porsche 918 Spyder at The Thermal Club track in Palm Springs, and wanted a review.
While loaded with innovative technology that provides genuinely supercar levels of performance, it felt heavy and vague. Beyond Porsche's marketing's hype, the 918 provided me with a disappointing synthetic experience.
There was really nothing to write home about.
I had a lot more fun driving another technologically advanced four-wheel-drive sports car: a stock new Nissan GTR. It was later the same evening in identical wet conditions, and the mega Nissan felt almost as quick as the 918, although its delivery was more satisfying.
It's 3.40pm as I finish my write-up relaxing on my flight to New York. My adrenaline is still pumping from my morning drive in a "humble" Porsche Boxster Spyder.
This brilliant car costs US$70,000 new, or about one-twelfth the price of the 918 Spyder. It demolishes the notion that the most expensive cars are the best. They are not. That honour belongs to the "fluid" Boxster Spyder.
Kevin Yeung is a businessman, philanthropist and motoring enthusiast