When it debuted in the late '90s, the Porsche Boxster ushered in an era of the more affordable Porsche convertible. Featuring a finely balanced midengine layout, sublime handling and steering, and the performance of a proven, sophisticated flat-6 engine, the Boxster quickly became part of the Porsche legend and one of the best-selling cars in the luxury roadster class.
There are several big-name competitors with equivalent cachet, but one drive in a Boxster is often all it takes to end a sports car shopping trip. Several evolutionary updates and detail changes through the years have kept the Boxster generally competitive in the face of faster and newer rivals. The latest version is the most powerful ever, with more than 300 horsepower available.
After a decade in production, the classically styled Porsche Boxster also remains a serious, purpose-built midengine sports car designed to travel hard and fast -- sometimes demanding a driver's undivided attention but rewarding the skilled pilot with razor-sharp feedback and unmatched thrills and satisfaction behind the wheel. If that's what you're after and you can swing a sometimes pricey bottom line, you couldn't convince us of a more compelling choice, new or used.
Current Porsche Boxster
The Porsche Boxster is available in the base version or as the more powerful Boxster S. The base model has a horizontally opposed 2.9-liter six-cylinder engine. Mounted amidships, it's rated at 255 hp and 214 pound-feet of torque. The Boxster S has a 3.4-liter version that produces 310 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque.
Standard on both models is a six-speed manual, with Porsche's seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual (named PDK) optional. This transmission is capable of operating in full automatic mode or with gearchanges ordered up by the driver via wheel-mounted buttons. Regardless of which mode you use, shifts are incredibly quick and smooth. PDK also produces better acceleration and fuel economy.
In our reviews, the Porsche Boxster's midengine power and classic styling, not to mention its sublime steering and brakes and relative practicality, give it a level of desirability that's hard to deny -- particularly among true sports car enthusiasts. If you keep your selections from the extensive and expensive options list under control, it can also provide unmatched luxury sports car value.
Used Porsche Boxster Models
The Boxster was most recently updated for the 2009 model year. Both engines were upgraded to their present output and PDK debuted. The base model's manual transmission also became a six-speed. Prior to this '09 refresh, the optional navigation system was an older design, with a smaller screen and poorly designed controls. Items like ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, iPod interface and satellite radio were also not available. The exterior styling was also somewhat different.
The Boxster's previous refresh was for 2005, and featured only evolutionary styling changes, but a major interior overhaul. Both the look and materials quality of the cabin were greatly improved. Originally, the base Boxster 2.7-liter six-cylinder produced 228 hp, and the Boxster S model's bigger flat-6 displaced 3.2 liters with an output of 258 horses. Transmission choices were a five-speed manual (base), a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic. For 2007, the 2.7-liter was upgraded to pump out 245 hp and the Boxster S gained a 3.4-liter engine with 295 hp. There were a few minor equipment upgrades made during this time period as well.
The original Boxster debuted for the 1997 model year. At the time, it was considered to be a key release for the brand. Porsche had been struggling financially through the early and mid '90s, and the Boxster's affordability, classic styling and simplicity made it a huge hit with consumers.
The first-generation Porsche Boxster came with a power-operated soft top and a 201-hp, 2.5-liter flat-6 engine. In 2000, the big news was the addition of a second, even more focused S model. The Boxster S featured 250 hp, larger wheels and brakes and a more stiffly tuned suspension. For 2001, the tweaks mostly involved interior refinements in layout and materials quality. But underneath, the sophisticated Porsche Stability Management system was made available for both models. For 2004, Porsche increased the power output of both engines slightly.
Though reasonable for a luxury-sports roadster, the Porsche Boxster has been consistently among the most expensive cars in its class. Of course, this matters less to a serious sports car shopper, as midengine cars are rare at any price point -- from an enthusiast's perspective, it's all about the Boxster's ability to perform precisely when driven hard. And that it does. But either way -- whether more recent or more than a few years old -- a Boxster unladen with lots of expensive optional upgrades makes for a serious used sports car value.