I drove my first Porsche as a college kid in 1979 – a new 928. It was cool — not Steve McQueen cool, more like James Bond cool. With its wild pop-up headlights, swoopy interior and powerful V-8 under the long hood, I couldn’t conceive of a woman driving this car. It was a guy’s car.
I’ve driven a lot of Porsches in the ensuing three decades and these days my idea of the real man’s Porsche is more 930 than 928 — raw and visceral and requiring absolute attention.
Of modern Porsches, after the GT3 RS, the Cayman is one of my favorites. Interestingly, I hadn’t spent any real time with the Boxster, either 986 or 987. I know quite a few racers who run Boxsters in GRAND-AM and PCA so I appreciate the capability of the cars. But would I feel as connected in the Boxster as in a 911? When Porsche offered up a 2012 Boxster S, I decided to find out.
2012 Porsche Boxster S
This particular Guards Red 987 was very well equipped with nearly $17K in options resulting in an MSRP of over $76K (click here to view the window sticker). As is typical of most press cars, the option list included the PDK transmission (you would be surprised how many auto journalists can’t drive a manual, but that’s a conversation for another day). Additional options included the 19” Carrera S wheels, painted console and red seat belts so the car looked good — for a convertible.
My initial drive was to get familiar with the basic features. The power top was a breeze to operate and could even be done while moving, unlike my recent Corvette Grand Sport test car, which required engagement of the hand brake. The sound system was excellent and the seats were typical Porsche – supportive yet comfortable.
On the road
The next day, I hit my favorite stretch of twisty two-lane, turned off the radio, switched on the Sport Plus, and put my foot down. With every turn, and every perfect paddle shift, my smile grew. This car is good I thought. Really good. I drove some more, pushing harder. Scratch that last thought. This car is GREAT! The handling is like the Cayman — perfectly neutral and predictable. But the grip and acceleration was much more than I expected and the PDK is incredibly responsive. As a manual transmission purist, I’ve been hesitant to embrace the PDK, but there is no denying the car is faster with it. And there is something to be said for keeping two hands on the wheel when pushing a car.
Having the top down on this crisp fall afternoon, and hearing the aggressive exhaust note bouncing off the trees, made for pure motoring joy. I pulled into my garage knowing the Boxster is a real Porsche. In fact, I mentioned to a Porsche exec I felt the Boxster was under-appreciated. He responded with “it’s more like under-realized.” Good point.
What defines a “chicks” car?
The next evening I had dinner with my friend David, a car guy who drives a BMW M3. When I showed him the Boxster, he said, “it’s nice, for a chick car.” Excuse me? I hadn’t really considered how non-Porschephiles view the Boxster. Is this the general perception of the car? Chick car? After taking David for a spirited drive, he kind of backpedaled on that remark. But it got me thinking. What defines a chick car?
Certainly appearance can play a big part. A Mary Kay Beetle, in Pepto Bismo pink? Definite chick car. Many convertibles appeal to women, but few to the exclusion of men. And the Boxster’s exterior doesn’t look particularly feminine to me. Maybe chickness comes from a particular vehicle’s marketing campaign. Not in the Boxster’s case. Perhaps it’s the perceived capability of the car. That’s easily fixable in the Boxster. Anyone who really drives this car will appreciate it has as more potential than most people can use. So maybe it’s the demographics of the people who buy them. Since the Boxster has a higher percentage of female owners than other Porsches, the car apparently speaks to women on some level. So maybe it is simply high numbers of female owners that makes a car a chick car?
Not that that is a bad thing. I know quite a few woman who can drive the pants off most guys (pun intended). But does a guy want to be seen driving a chick car? Look what VW just did with the redesign of the Beetle: they made it macho — at least more macho than the previous one — since it was selling in much higher numbers to women. Mission accomplished since more guys are taking notice of the car.
So, the question remains: What defines a chick car and is the Boxster one? Something to consider: I took my wife for a ride in the Boxster and she said, “I really like this car.” This is from the woman that hates every sports car I bring home. Maybe it really is a chick car. If so, someone needs to get me a skirt…
About the Author
Today’s post is by Roger Garbow. Roger is the founder of Ridgefield, CT-based Full Throttle Marketing, and Vice President of Car Guy Nation. A member of the International Motor Press Association, Roger is a contributing writer for the Fairfield County Business Journal, Ridgefield Magazine and China’s most exclusive lifestyle publication, Fortune Character.
In 2008, as the Marketing Director for Farnbacher Loles Motorsports, Roger drove a 3.8 liter Porsche Cayman S in an exhibition drag race on NY’s 11th Avenue to open the NY Auto Show — after getting pulled over for driving an “unlicensed” 997 GT3 Cup on city streets. When not turning laps at Monticello Motor Club, he can be found wherever car guys are gathering.