Extolling Agility and Traction

2005 Porsche Boxster2005 Porsche Boxster: Baby Boy
What comes to mind when you think about speed, performance and agility? the world?s fastest man, or a German-bred machine that has more talent than any big brother could ever wish for? I?m referring to Porsche?s second-generation Boxster and Boxster S.

When comparing the ?05 Boxster to its predecessor, one has to be a Porsche fanatic to notice the differences. The ?dual trunk? body has a more aerodynamic front fascia, door handles and mirrors. Its center-placed exhaust pipes still dominate the rear and make an aggressive sound when the car is accelerating. Furthermore, the Boxster adapts more air-intake capabilities, uses aluminum for the hood and deck lid, and sits on a wider track. Minor changes have been made to an already stylish cabin. The soft top lowers in 12 seconds, the instrument cluster has been redesigned?its aluminum-like materials are richer?and four different seat packages are available. But big boys still won?t fit in the Boxster.

To experience Baby Boy?s athletic characteristics, we sought out the looping roads of sunny California. First in line for a tryout was the standard Boxster with its traditional flat-six ?Boxer? engine. The horizontally opposed 2.7-liter six puts out 240 steeds and 199 lb.-ft. of torque and achieves a top speed of 159 mph. Porsche made sure to offer PSM (Porsche Stability Management) as a standard benefit. The job of PSM is to keep the Boxster from derailing. But, you can?t outwit the laws of physics, so stupid driving is not a smart bet. Stepping up to the Boxster S is like putting spinach in the tank! Its 3.3-liter Boxer is 280 horses strong and runs a quick 5.2-second 60-mph dash. Young blood can do 80 mph in second gear, so tapping 100 was as easy as baking a cake. Base pricing starts at $43,800 for the Boxster and $53,100 for the Boxster S.

 2005 Volvo V50 T5 AWD2005 Volvo V50 T5 AWD: Winter Wonderland
Volvo held its annual ?Winter Driving Event? in the frigid climate of Canada?s Quebec City, featuring the stellar 2005 V50 T5 all-wheel drive. Wind chills were 10 to 20 degrees below zero. The rivers and lakes became parking lots and we were driving on them! Volvo?s AWD is an electronic system, which is 95 percent front-wheel drive under normal road conditions. When the front wheels lose traction, onboard computers intervene and add power to the rear wheels. The system knows how much and how quickly it should distribute power front to rear and side to side for optimal traction.

We started the morning early, when the temperature was at its lowest. A Red Volvo V50 with all-wheel drive and the top-of-the-line engine was our first choice. After warming up the vehicle for 15 minutes, the heat finally kicked in. The V50, basically a wagon version of the S40, is a compact wagon with a rugged attitude. It?s available 2.5-liter I-5 engine (T5) is turbocharged with 218 horsepower, has dual exhaust tips and is enhanced with AWD. The I-5 is very efficient for the V50?s size and weight. Eighteen-inch wheels are optional. A 2.4-liter I-5 with 168 horsepower comes standard on the V50 and pricing starts at $25,990. Both 6-speed manual and 5-speed automatic transmissions are available. The interior features folding rear seats; a center console stack as thin as Paris Hilton and unique T-Tec upholstery, which is similar in feel to the compression gear worn by athletes. The edgy console stores all audio and HVAC controls and allows for added storage behind its slim frame. However, minus the stack, the V50?s dash is as simple as 2 + 2 = 4. Volvo hopes the V50 will reduce the average age of its customers from 49 to 35 to 40. ???

Kimatni D. Rawlins is the publisher of Automotive Rhythm. For more on ?The Urban Automotive Experience? visit www.AutomotiveRhythms.com.