Porsche Boxster S vs Lotus Exige S Roadster

26 Nov, 2013 10:30am

New roadster version of Lotus’ sizzling Exige S battles brilliant Boxster

Lotus has lifted the lid on its wild Exige S. The new Roadster promises the same explosive performance and razor-sharp handling as its coupe cousin, but with added wind-in-the-hair thrills.

On paper, the mid-engined drop-top is impressive. Like the hard-top version, it’s powered by a muscular 345bhp supercharged Toyota V6 engine. Better still, the newcomer is 10kg lighter, so it should be just as fast. And since the Exige shares much of its underpinnings with Lotus’ Elise roadster, removing the roof shouldn’t result in wobbly handling.

 Porsche Boxster S in-depth review

Loxus Exige S in-depth review

The Exige Roadster’s £52,900 price tag is identical to the coupé’s as well, so you won’t pay a financial penalty for going roofless. Even so, at this price the Lotus still costs £6,113 more than one of the best high-performance roadsters money can buy: the Porsche Boxster S.

This finely honed two-seater isn’t as powerful as its British rival, but the beautifully balanced handling, bulletproof engineering and wailing flat-six engine make it a driver’s delight. And thanks to its classy cabin, decent refinement and surprisingly strong practicality, the Boxster will be as composed on the daily commute as it is blasting down a back road.

The big question is, which of our rapid roadsters will blow its rival away?

Folding the roof

There's no point driving a roadster if you don’t get the wind in your hair as often as possible. The Boxster’s powered fabric roof can be raised or lowered in around 13 seconds. In the Lotus, you have to manually unhook a pair of spars and then remove the roof by hand. It’s relatively easy once you get the hang of it, but you have to store the folded roof in the boot and you’re more likely to get caught out by an unexpected shower.

Wind buffeting

Porsche charges £182 for a wind deflector to sit between the roll hoops. When it’s fitted, the cabin is surprisingly calm at speed. The Lotus retains the coupé’s glass rear screen, yet its interior is still more blustery.

Ready for the track?

These roadsters appeal to keen drivers, and there’s a host of upgrades aimed at delivering more thrills. The Lotus’ £2,000 Race Pack adds circuit-optimised suspension, four-mode traction control, launch control and an exhaust bypass valve button. For £800 you can have Pirelli Trofeo tyres, while £1,700 buys high-performance brake discs. With the Boxster S you can add £4,977 ceramic brakes or an £890 torque vectoring differential. A sports exhaust is £1,473.

1st place - Boxster S 

The Porsche Boxster has set the roadster benchmark ever since the original burst on to the scene in 1996. The third generation is better than ever, and is our current roadster champ. It's definitely one of the finest sports cars money can buy. It’s a joy to drive, but it’s also practical, comfortable and refined. It looks great, has an upmarket cabin and offers all the performance you could need. Plus, it’s cheaper than the Lotus and holds on to its price far better. 

2nd place - Exige S

The Exige S Roadster is the fastest convertible Lotus has ever made, and it brings fresh appeal to the Exige. It’s the same price as the coupe, and it promises the same sharp handling and searing performance, so it’s hard to see why you wouldn’t choose the roadster over the hard-top. So, If you want serious performance mixed with open-top motoring, the Exige S Roadster delivers. 

Porsche Boxster S Lotus Exige S Roadster
On-the-road price/total as tested £46,787/£56,877 £52,900/£59,330
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000) £25,312/54.1% £19,150/36.2%
Depreciation £21,475 £33,750
Annual tax liability std/higher rate £3,043/£6,087 £3,703/£7,406
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) £2,404/£4,007 £2,705/£4,508
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost 45/£979/K/£280 50/£1,625/L/£475
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service £480/£610/£480 £190/£190/£190
Length/wheelbase 4,374/2,475mm 4,084/2,370mm
Height/width 1,281/1,801mm 1,129/1,802mm
Engine Flat 6cyl/3,436cc V6/3,456cc
Peak power   311/6,700 bhp/rpm 345/7,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque 360/4,500 Nm/rpm 400/4,500 Nm/rpm
Transmission 6-spd man/rwd 6-spd man/rwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel 64 litres/sealant 40 litres/sealant
Boot capacity (front/rear) 150/130 litres N/A/98 litres
Kerbweight/payload 1,320/335kg 1,166kg/N/A
Turning circle/drag coefficient 10.6 metres/0.31Cd N/A/0.41Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery 3yrs (unltd)/2yrs 3yrs (unltd)/N/A
Service intervals/UK dealers 20,000 miles (2yrs)/36 10,000 miles (1yr)/22
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos. 13th/6th N/A
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars N/A N/A
0-60/30-70mph 4.9/4.0 secs 4.1/3.4 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 3.2/4.1 secs 2.2/3.1 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th 4.8/5.8 secs 4.2/5.1 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 173mph/2,600rpm 145mph/2,500rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 45.0/33.4/9.6m 44.2/32.5/9.5m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph 64/72/71/77dB 72/82/75/84dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range 29.7/6.5/418 miles 26.4/5.8/232 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 23.2/40.9/32.1mpg 19.5/37.2/28.0mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 5.1/9.0/7.0mpl 4.3/8.1/6.1mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket 220/206g/km/33% 247/236g/km/35%
Airbags/air-con/wind deflector Six/yes/£182 Two/£1,100/no
Electric/leather/heated seats Yes*/£2,092/£283 No/£1,500/£350
Met paint/adap dampers/cruise ctrl £558/£971/£267 £600/no/£350^
Parking sensors/spt exhaust/xenons £348/£1,473/yes £350/£2,000**/no
Sat-nav/DAB radio/Bluetooth £2,141/£324/£526 No/no/no

Disqus - noscript

Still give me the Lotus any day over the junior bankers car. Faster from the lights and will still be more chuck-able than the Porsche could ever be.

I think the Lotus is so much a sexier looking machine than the Porsche. I would pick the Lotus every day of the week. Not sure how you worked out the residual values after 3 years. If its anywhere as good at holding its price as the Evora your estimation will be way way out!

[The Boxster] 'holds on to its price far better'. Really? The Exige Roadster is only just in the hands of customers and the prices of other Lotus cars hold extremely well, to say the least. The used car residual values for the Evora are impressive but those for the Elise (extremely similar to the Exige, the Elise S touring being around £13,000 cheaper) were recently announced as the best for any car in the U.K. Conversely, PistonHeads Classifieds has any number of top-notch 3.4 litre Boxsters for £15-£25,000 ...

Give me strength! You buy the Lotus for its hardcore handling, and AutoExpress bangs on about a wind deflector screen and a convertible roof folding mechanism. It's official, AE journalists are totally incompetent

Just on the residual price issue, I also fail to understand where low values forecast for the Exige come from. I've owned 3 Elise Mk2 cars. The first I bought new in 2003 and part-exchanged it 4 yrs later with 45,000 miles and got 55% of what I paid, the garage sold it within 30 mins for £2K more. The second I bought as a 6 month old car, traded it 4 years later with 42,000 miles and got 65% of what I bought it for. My current one is an SC that I bought 6 months old 4 years ago and similar models are being offered by dealers at a similar price to what I paid for it 4 yrs ago, so when I sell I should get ~75% of what I paid and >50% of the full new retail price. Maybe the AE could comment ?

AEX 1334
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