"The entry-level Porsche Boxster is arguably the best all-rounder in the range. It remains one of the best handling cars money can buy."
The Porsche Boxster sets the standard in the small roadster class, as it's sharper and more enjoyable to drive than rivals such as the BMW Z4, Mercedes SLK and Nissan 370Z. The powerful flat-six-cylinder engines are mid-mounted, which makes the handling sharp, while the interior –inspired by the larger Porsche 911 – is modern, upmarket and thoughtfully laid out. This entry point to Porsche ownership is arguably the best all-rounder in Porsche's range, and is available in standard 2.7-litre Boxster and 3.4-litre Boxster S guises. The fabric roof folds down in nine seconds, while a pair of luggage areas in the front and rear make it pretty practical for a sports car. Roof up, the interior is quiet, but the stiff suspension reminds you that you're driving a pure sports car.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
Traditionally, strong second-hand performance has made the Boxster a good ownership prospect, while improved economy and lower emissions mean fuel and tax bills are low for a high-end sports car. It's worth keeping the relatively pricey servicing costs in mind, and the engine is tucked away in the middle of the car, so any major attention means it'll have to be removed from the car. However, Porsche offers a three-year unlimited mileage warranty, and there's also a three-year recovery deal should you need it.
Interior & comfort
Considering it's a sports car, the Porsche Boxster is quite comfortable, especially if you choose the optionalPorsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system. This allows you to adjust the suspension at the push of a button, selecting either a comfortable or sporty setting. An excellent driving position means long distance comfort is good, and road noise is minimal with the well-insulated roof up. It folds down in just nine seconds - you can even do this while driving at low speeds – and buffeting with the roof down is virtually non existent.
Practicality & boot space
Practicality isn’t a big priority for open-topped sports cars, but, with a pair of luggage areas front and rear, the Boxster is surprisingly handy. You get a deep 150-litre compartment in the nose and a 130-litre boot behind the engine. The cabin is spacious and there's a decent-sized glovebox and centre storage bin, plus a pair of clever cup-holders that fold out of the dashboard. A reasonably large glass rear window also means the view out the back when the roof up is good.
Reliability & safety
Porsche is famed for its advanced engineering know-how, and the Boxster is a beautifully built car. Extensive use of aluminium in the body has reduced its weight, but the car is a lot stiffer than the last version. With lots of technology being carried over from the 911, the Boxster's engine, chassis and electronics are well proven. Interior quality is excellent, while the taut fabric hood has fleece cushioning to improve sound insulation.
Engines, drive & performance
It isn’t just the attractions of open-air motoring that make the Boxster such a joy to drive. The precision and accuracy of the Boxster is amazing – once in a bend, the balance between front and rear grip is perfect, while the superb body control and high grip levels make it easy to corner with confidence. An optional Sport chassis provides even sharper responses, but the trade off is poor comfort over bumpy roads. The entry-level 2.7-litre Boxster has 261bhp, while the bigger 311bhp 3.4-litre S offers even more performance, although both models are more than fast enough for most drivers.
Price, value for money & options
The Porsche Boxster is the entry-point to the range, but it's still an expensive car, especially if you get carried away with the options list. However, the 2.7-litre has a sub-£40,000 price tag, while £50,000 will get you a Boxster S with a few decent options. It's worth remembering that few similarly priced cars offer such an accomplished blend of handling, performance and style.