Porsche Boxster roadster (2004-2011)
- Class-leading driving experience
- Easy performance, rousing engine note
- Relative practicality and running costs
- Expensive options
- People saying you can’t afford a 911
- Interior practicality limited
"Few cars provide thrills like the Porsche Boxster, but it's also a car that you could use every day. "
The Porsche Boxster is regarded as one of the finest open-topped sports cars you can buy. It sits below the 911 in terms of price, but outright performance aside, the Boxster is every bit as enjoyable to drive. The standard 255bhp 2.9-litre Boxster is fast, while the Boxster S with a 310bhp, 3.4-litre engine, is faster still. Both offer impressive handling and the ability to keep up with virtually any car on any road. Hugely desirable, the Porsche Boxster should be at the very top of your list if you’re looking for a high-performance roadster.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Long service intervals but short warranty
The Boxster isn’t the cheapest roadster out there on a pound/performance ratio, but it's a safe place to put your money. Residual values are superb, so it’ll be worth more than rivals like the BMW Z4 and Mercedes-Benz SLK if you ever sell it. Fuel economy is respectable, too, with both the Boxster and Boxster S achieving near-30mpg on the official combined consumption cycle. Service intervals are 20,000 miles.
Interior & comfort
Smooth and comfortable ride
The Boxster offers pin-sharp steering and fine control in the bends but Porsche's engineers have achieved that without fitting ultra-hard suspension. Bumps in the road are taken with ease whether the Boxster is fitted with standard suspension, or optional computer controlled Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM). The latter allows you to firm up the suspension, but some might find the sportiest setting a bit too extreme. The seats provide plenty of comfort and support, while the driving position is excellent. With the canvas roof up there's some wind noise, but the engines are quiet on the move and sound great when you push the accelerator harder. The Boxster really is a realistic daily driving proposition.
Practicality & boot space
Remarkably practical for cabriolet
Two-seat sports cars might not be bought with practicality in mind, but the Boxster is better than most. There are two luggage areas thanks to the mid-mounted engine. Up front there's a deep compartment and at the rear there's a wide boot which gives the Boxster greater luggage space than you’d imagine. The hood stows quickly and easily at the touch of a button (although the Spyder version comes with lightweight manual roof) and doesn’t encroach on the boot space, either. There are useful cubbies in the doors, and, unusually for a sports car, there are pop-out cup-holders should you need them.
Reliability & safety
Well built, reliable, and safe
Porsche has an enviable reputation among its rivals for making cars that are both reliable and useable. Certainly the Boxster feels very solid inside and out. All Boxsters come with twin-front, curtain and side airbags, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes.
Engines, drive & performance
Class-leading handling and performance
Quite simply the Porsche Boxster is brilliant. It delivers all of the driving excitement a sports car should with crushing competence. The mid-mounted positioning of the engine creates perfect balance and the steering is light and direct. Both engine options develop easy to access, yet scintillating performance: the S with 310bhp accelerates from 0-62mph in just 5.3 seconds. Changing gears via the standard six-speed manual gearbox is an absolute joy, although Porsche's optional seven-speed PDK automatic delivers quicker shifts and makes the Boxster easier to drive in traffic.
Price, value for money & options
The most basic Porsche available
The Porsche Boxster isn’t very well equipped as standard, as it only comes with basics such as air-conditioning, a CD stereo and part-leather interior. You’ll need to pay more if you want climate control, satellite navigation, or telephone and iPod connections. That Porsche badge counts for a lot though, and compared to the other models in Porsche's line-up, the Boxster looks like a bit of a bargain.
What the others say
Remarkably, the well insulated, electrically operated fabric roof is nearly as effective at keeping out noise as the metal units of the Z4 and SLK. The only downside is that when in place it restricts over-the-shoulder vision, which can be a problem when pulling out from tight junctions.
Despite some inevitable stick for being a ‘poor man's 911’, and for being a hair dresser's car to boot, the Porsche Boxster is a truly magical piece of engineering. Its supple but responsive chassis, mid-engine configuration and vocal flat-six make it a genuine joy to drive.
Then there's the handling. Thanks to a taut frame and perfectly weighted steering the Boxster is a delight to drive while the superbly balanced chassis lets you know exactly what's going on beneath you. The electric roof is straightforward to lower and with it down buffeting is minimal while the Porsche doesn't lose any if it's rigidity.
The Boxster's fine chassis seems unfazed by the extra urge. Certainly you can sense that it's not as structurally solid as the Cayman, though the physical evidence is mostly the occasional bout of rear-view mirror tremors on a ruckled road rather than any wooliness and wobbliness felt through the steering wheel.
Last updated: 28 Jun 2013