The Porsche Boxster was introduced 1997 as a replacement for the aging 968. Stylistically, however, some have noted the Boxster’s resemblance to the legendary 911. Indeed, there is certainly a resemblance in terms of the front-end appearance of each car, due in no small part to the fact that these models share a number of front-end components. Yet from the rear, these cars remain aesthetically distinct.
Most Boxster models are only available as convertibles, although a coupe version called the Porsche Cayman was released in 2006; however, the Cayman remains a rarity on the used car market.
Initially only available with either 5-speed manual or 5-speed sports automatic gearboxes, the 6-speed Boxster S was released in October 1999. The Boxster was subject to small upgrades in August 2001 and August 2002, followed by a major overhaul in February 2005, when the second-generation Boxster 987 range was released.
Initially derided as a poor relation of the more established Porsche models, due in part to its relatively small 2.5L engine, the 2.7L version – released in 1999 – solved that complaint in many people’s minds. The Boxster might not have the prestige of its older 911 cousin, but do not be fooled – the Boxster is a brilliant machine.
As mentioned earlier in the article, the Boxster was initially subject to criticism for having a relatively small 2.5L flat 6-cylinder engine. Yet this engine had a power output of 150kW at 6400rpm and a torque of 260Nm at 4750rpm. This enabled the introductory model to reach 0-100 km/h in 6.9 seconds with a manual gearbox and 7.6 seconds with automatic transmission, proving this car was no slouch.
All such criticisms were firmly laid to rest in 1999, when the 3.2L equipped Boxster S was released. This more capacious and powerful engine had a power output of 185kW at 6250rpm and a lot of torque at 305Nm at 4500rpm. Examples of the Boxster S equipped with a manual gearbox could reach 0-100 km/h in 5.9 seconds, whereas those examples with automatic gearboxes were slightly slower, reaching 0-100 km/h in 6.5 seconds.
In terms of fuel consumption, the manual-equipped Boxsters are generally the most economical. Indeed, the Boxster S uses 15.7L/100km in an urban environment and 8L/100km in an extra urban environment, leaving a combined fuel economy of 10.8L/100km, comparing favourably to the combined fuel economy of the automatic, which was 11.5L/100km.
Things improved in all areas with the 2005 release of the second-generation 987 range, which now included the all-new Boxster S, equipped with a 3.4L engine. With a heavily increased power output of 206kW at 6200rpm, but with slightly less torque at 302Nm at 4700rpm, the manual-equipped version could now reach 0-100 km/h in 5.5 seconds, and the automatic could now accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 6.3 seconds.
In truth, all engines ever used in the Boxster are great and really start to push after 4000rpm, releasing what can only be described as a pleasing howl at 5000rpm, which is particularly satisfying with the top down.
In terms of the ride and handling, the Boxster, with its naturally aspirated engine, is delightfully responsive, especially when pushed. Road grip remains high at all times, steering is incredibly responsive, and it takes corners with aplomb.
All models also have excellent braking systems, which are fully ventilated for acute responsiveness that allows the driver to bring the car from 100 km/h to 0 in only 2.7 seconds.
Providing a huge standard kit has never been high on Porsche’s list of priorities. Even the latest models do not provide smart-key entry, for example, while thoroughly modern lane-departure or blind-spot warnings are completely ignored as both standard features and as options.
Nonetheless, the original 1997 Boxster offered 16-inch alloy wheels, CD player, ABS (anti-lock brakes), engine immobiliser, air-conditioning with climate control, as well as leather seats, power steering, power windows in the front and rear, and an alarm as standard.
Safety features were provided in the form of front driver and passenger dual airbags.
Options were originally limited to the choice of a hardtop roof and cruise control, both of which added considerably to the price tag.
Second-generation Boxsters also come with satnav, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, and cruise control as standard. Safety features on later models have also been improved, with the addition of pop-up roll bars, 6 front and side airbags, and stability control.
This comes in the form of the Mercedes-Benz SL250, which has a flexible engine, dynamic handling, and a whole host of standard features. Similarly, the BMW Z4 sDrive 28i also provides stiff competition with great performance, nice interior, and a huge standard kit.
However, the Boxster is arguably the most engaging and exciting car in its price range. Used models can be picked up at prices that can be a bargain for a sports car with this amount of all-round class.