Slinging it through winding ribbons of road in the Northern Cal backcountry that are sometimes little more than a single lane wide; pounding over rippling sections of pavement and feeling the suspension flex; whipping around near-hairpins that the Spyder magically turned into sweeping turns, feeling the jarring pulses through palms, legs and arse... I heard a small, still voice in the back of my mind. It kept whispering GT3, over and over.

Maybe the Boxster Spyder isn't quite as fast or gut-wrenchingly visceral as the 911 GT3, but it doesn't seem such a stretch to call it the GT3 of the mid-engine line.

The Boxster Spyder will become available in February and start just over $61,000 (sans $950 destination charge), the sum of which can be augmented with all those goodies from the option list, including the mentioned PDK gearbox, carbon ceramic brake rotors, and Porsche Communication Management (PCM) as the central control unit for audio, comm, and navigation functions, along with iPod integration.

The Sport Chrono Package is also offered, giving you the nifty dash-mounted stopwatch, and more importantly, a Sport button to dial back PSM stability management interference if you really want to drive hard. Equipping the car with PDK adds a Sport Plus switch, which dials the intervention threshold back even further, and a launch control program, which can shave tenths of seconds off acceleration times.

Like I said, it won't be for everyone. Given the severity of pavement and the tenderness of your derriere, the Spyder could conceivably beat the hell out of you. But for some, those who like to drive all day over every kind of pavement and every now and then emerge stiff and sore (but grinning like a fool), it's an endearing characteristic. And that's not even considering how the car would behave on glass-smooth race-track pavement. I gotta think it'd be spectacular.

2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder
Longitudinal mid engine, rear-wheel drive

3.4-liter flat six, dohc, 24-valve

Six-speed manual; optional seven-speed PDK automated manual

Spring strut axle, Porsche-optimized MacPherson front and rear

Four-piston aluminum monoblock calipers with 12.5-inch rotors (f), four-piston aluminum monoblock calipers with 11.8-inch rotors (r); optional carbon ceramic rotors

Length/Width/Height (in.): 170.9/70.9/48.5
Wheelbase: 95.1 in.
Curb Weight: 2,811 lb

Peak Power: 320 hp @ 7200 rpm
Peak Torque: 273 lb-ft @ 4750 rpm
0-62 mph: 5.1 sec.
Top Speed: 166 mph
MSRP: $61,200

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