Porsche Boxster roadster (2012-2016) - Engines, drive & performance

Not many cars are as entertaining to drive as a Porsche Boxster

Carbuyer Rating

4.7 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.5 out of 5

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

5.0 out of 5

It would be easy to think that the Boxster was designed with posers in mind; people who are merely interested in driving around with the roof down when it’s sunny and talking loudly about the badge on their car to anyone who’ll listen.

The Boxster will indeed please those people, but happily it also offers a lot to the driving enthusiast as well. The steering is precise and sharp, the throttle is very responsive and a range of powerful engines means the Boxster is one of the best sports cars you can buy. The 261bhp 2.7-litre petrol engine in the standard car delivers strong performance, getting it from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds. The Boxster S, with its 311bhp 3.4-litre petrol, can do the same sprint in just 5.1 seconds.

The Boxster GTS has the same 3.4-litre petrol engine as the S, but here it’s been tweaked to provide an extra 15bhp, giving you 326bhp in total. The sprint from 0-62mph takes five seconds with the manual gearbox or 4.7 seconds with the PDK automatic gearbox, which makes the GTS faster than the basic Porsche 911.

With its 911-derived 369bhp 3.8-litre flat-six engine, the Porsche Boxster Spyder is the quickest model in the range. It’ll do 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds and go on to a top speed of 180mph. Throttle response is excellent and the six-speed manual gearbox is fantastic, offering Porsche’s typical slick operation. Some may find the gearing a little long, however – you’ll be doing 80mph in second if you use all of the engine’s performance.

Be that as it may, all the engines sound fantastic – especially with the roof down – and the Spyder’s larger-capacity motor sounds even better. If you’re after a quieter, more refined experience, however, then the retractable canvas roof does a good job of reducing noise, as well as keeping the weather out. 

All Boxster models come with an excellent, precise six-speed manual transmission as standard, while the seven-speed PDK automatic is available as an option. The Boxster’s ride is generally comfortable, but it reveals its sports-car setup at lower speeds, when it can feel too firm. The PASM adaptive dampers, which are an option on the Boxster and Boxster S and standard on the GTS and Spyder, make life a bit more comfortable around town. 

That said, the payoff for the ever-so-slightly firm ride is the simply staggering steering and handling. The steering is excellent – direct, communicative and confidence-inspiring, while the car always feels brilliantly balanced. There’s loads of grip, too, and it never feels unsettled or nervous.

Those wanting the ultimate driving experience can choose the optional sport chassis upgrade, which adds stiffer springs and dampers and a 20mm lower ride height. This setup is standard on the top-of-the-range Spyder. It’s worth bearing in mind that while this does make the Boxster even more focused and fun-to-drive – especially on a track – it also means you’ll feel more of the road’s imperfections inside the car.

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