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Cars: Porsche is smiles better.

Byline: BY TONY LARNER

AS I'm now well on my way to becoming a seasoned motoring hack, I try not to get too excited when new test cars arrive.

When companies deliver their latest vehicles, I show what a true professional I am by keeping my emotions firmly in check.

You see, the role of the motoring journalist is to be impartial until the end of the test week when you can give your opinion in a fair and balanced article.

All that went out of the window when the Porsche Boxster S was delivered to my office.

When our receptionist rang to say it had arrived and that she had the keys for me, I whooped, raced through the newsroom, hurdled a flight of stairs to get to ground floor - and came skidding to a halt at the startled reception desk.

Keys in hand, I legged it out to the car park, jumped into the waiting Boxster and sped off. The next 20 minutes went by in a blur - until my irate editor rang me to ask where the hell had I gone?

Still, I made it back to the office pretty quickly as this supermodel is one of the fastest sports cars on the road.

If you're after a cheap thrill then the Porsche Boxster S is probably not for you.

The near pounds 40,000 price tag is probably too high for most motorists. What a shame that is because the car is without doubt the most exciting I have ever driven It looks absolutely drop-dead gorgeous with classic curves, huge racing wheels and a luxurious leather interior.

And while the Boxster is great on the eye, it is absolutely unbelievable on the road.

Driving a car with a 0 - 62mph time of 5.5 seconds and top speed of 167mph must be a little like trying to cling on to the back of a VERY angry tiger.

Hit the floor and you hear an incredible roar - then, in a flash, you are dragged away screaming by the powerful beast.

This is a car that seems to demand that you go fast, and the six cylinder engine and smooth six-speed gearbox helps you to meet its need-for-speed. The brakes are also exceptionally powerful and sensitive. You get virtually no wobble if you hit them hard and the suspension system provides acomfortable ride over the bumpiest of roads. I loved everything about the Porsche Boxster S, even the colour - a custard yellow! - and it would be my pick for the best mid-range sports car on the road today.

Driving with the roof down was also great fun and the wind resistance afforded by the excellent body design was the most effective I've experienced in a soft-top.

Of course, the Boxster does not come with acres of space and you're never going to fit much in its two boots (a small one at the front and minuscule one at the back).

But hey, if you want more room then get a Volvo!

Yet there is one problem with this dream of a car - face-ache.

When I pulled into my driveway on the day of its delivery, the wife opened the front door to me.

"Whatcha' smiling at?" she asked. I didn't realise I was - and I didn't stop smiling for the next seven days

FAST FACTS

Porsche Boxster S Price: pounds 38,720 Mechanical: 280bhp, 3,179cc, 6cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 6spd manual gearbox Max speed: 167mph 0-62mph: 5.5 secs Combined mpg: 27.2 Insurance group: 20 CO2 emissions: 248g/km BiK rating: 35% Warranty: 2yrs/ unlimited mileage; 10yrs anti-rust; 3yrs paint

CAPTION(S):

BOOTY: the distinctive rear end; NEED-FORSPEED: the very impressive Porsche Boxster S
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Aug 28, 2005
Words:621
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