Porsche Boxster review
Few cars are better than the Porsche Boxster for delivering driving thrills, at any price
Could the Porsche Boxster be the ultimate open-top sports car? It offers a mix of sharp handling, everyday usability, attractive price and reasonable running costs that rivals such as the BMW Z4 and Mercedes SLK can only dream of matching. The Boxster comes in two guises – the standard 2.7-litre car and the faster 3.4-litre Boxster S. Both cars are lighter and faster than their predecessors, yet fuel economy is improved, too. In fact, the Boxster is so good that it almost makes the more expensive Porsche 911 Cabriolet an irrelevance.
Our choice: Boxster 2.7
The Porsche Boxster is following the lead of its bigger 911 brother, and the latest version’s looks are just an evolution of the last car. Yet despite this cautious approach and compact dimensions the Boxster looks fantastic. There are hints of the Porsche Carrera GT supercar in its wide and purposeful stance, while the large air intakes behind the doors and integrated rear spoiler leave you in no doubt about its performance potential. The entry level Boxster is identified by its oval centre exit exhaust and 18-inch alloys wheels, while the faster and more expensive S gets twin exit tailpipe and 19-inch rims. As you'd expect from a Porsche, the interior is beautifully built and well laid out.
The Porsche Boxster is all about the driving experience. The two seater has been designed from the outset to entertain, and the sharp steering, responsive chassis and powerful engines combine to deliver one of the best performing sports cars you can buy. The 261bhp 2.7-litre flat-six delivers strong performance, while the larger 311bhp 3.4-litre engine in the Boxster S is a match for the larger 911 for performance. Both versions get a slick and precise six-speed manual as standard, while Porsche's rapid-fire seven-speed PDK twin cutch transmission is available as an option. The Boxster can be rather uncomfortable when you’re taking it easy, although the optional PASM adaptive dampers improve the low-speed ride. Drivers wanting the ultimate in driving fun can opt for the optional Sport chassis upgrade that adds stiffer springs and dampers, plus a 20mm lower ride height. However, while it's even shaper to drive than the standard car, ride comfort does suffer.
Porsche has a strong reputation for reliability and robust engineering, securing an impressive top ten finish in our 2012 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. As a result, there's no reason to expect the Boxster won't be a durable and faithful choice. However, it's worth bearing in mind that if it does go wrong, the Boxster will be very expensive to repair. The Porsche hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP yet, but it comes with a host of electronic driver aids and a full complement of airbags, while pop-up roll hoops protect the occupants in the event of a roll.
Another surprisingly strong point with the Porsche Boxster is its practicality. There are usefully shaped boots in the nose and tail, which combine to deliver a respectable 280-litres of capacity - the more expensive Jaguar F-Type has a cramped 196-litre boot. There's also a number of handy cubby holes in the interior, including a lockable glovebox. The rest of the interior is surprisingly spacious, with plenty of head and legroom for both the driver and passenger. Unlike the metal roofed Mercedes SLK and BMW Z4, the Porsche gets a traditional fabric hood. However, the powered covering can be raised or lowerd in a matter of seconds, while excellent insulation means it keeps the cabin quite and free of draughts when it is in place.
All-new flat-six engines give the Porsche Boxster excellent fuel economy, while a standard stop/start system further boosts efficiency. The standard 2.7-litre car promises to return 34.4mpg, while emissions of 192g/km are very respectable considering the performance on offer. Prices start at around £37,000, which is cheaper than top-spec versions of the BMW Z4 and Mercedes SLK. Better still, residuals are strong, with both versions retaining nearly 60 percent of their value after three years motoring. However, it's worth noting that you don't get a huge amount of equipment as standard, so you'll find it hard to avoid the expensive options list.