Porsche Boxster roadster
Price £38,810 - £52,879
- Super-sharp handling
- Powerful engines
- Surprisingly low running costs
- Doesn't look much different to last Boxster
- Expensive servicing
- Automatic gearbox takes away some of the fun
At a glance
"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
Dealer servicing is expensive
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
Remarkably comfortable for a pure sports car
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
There's two boots and the interior is roomy for two
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
Advanced engineering puts the Boxster at the cutting edge
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
Not many cars are as entertaining to drive as a Boxster
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
Cheapest car in Porsche range is still expensive
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.
What the others say
The first thing I’ll say is that our car was fitted with the optional sports exhaust and I implore anyone buying a 981 to fit one. It sounds absolutely fantastic, particularly all the crackling explosions on the overrun at high revs (where the engine is happiest). The other particularly pleasing thing about the spec of our particular car was the manual gearbox in place of (I suspect the more popular) PDK. The six-speed box is an absolute peach (much nicer than the 991's seven-speed) and its new higher position closer to the steering wheel is the cherry on the extremely sweet-shifting cake.
The wheelbase is 60mm longer, the track is wider and the screen has been shifted forward and raked back at a steeper angle. In profile, deep-sculpted doors and large side vents hint at the 918 hybrid supercar, while bigger wheels (18 inches on the Boxster; 19 inches on the S) give a planted stance.
Performance is predictably rapid. The dash to 62mph is over in just 5.0 seconds (4.8 if you choose the Sport Chrono package), but mere numbers don’t do the engine justice. It pulls strongly and smoothly even when the rev-counter has barely awoken, but it does its best work above 5000rpm, where it fairly flies. The soundtrack varies from growl to howl the nearer the redline you venture.
It goes without saying that Boxster handling will be top class, but it's the ride that initially impresses. Sure, the test cars all had PASM active suspension that automatically adjusts the damping according to the circumstances, but this Porsche felt smooth and remarkably comfortably in all conditions. The one area of contention is the steering. Like the new 911, there has been a shift to electro-mechanical power steering. This is not down to fuel savings - there is only a minimal improvement - but because focus groups said they wanted it to be less weighty.