When it debuted for the 1997 model year, the Porsche Boxster ushered in an era of the more affordable high-end sports car, not to mention the more affordable Porsche. Featuring a finely balanced midengine layout and keenly responsive handling and steering, the Boxster quickly became one of the best-selling sports cars on the road.
Now in its third generation, the Boxster formula remains the same, yet Porsche has made evolutionary changes to better compete against its recently redesigned rivals. Comfort, improved build quality, classier styling and an increased number of convenience features all make the Boxster considerably better than before. If you can swing a sometimes pricey bottom line, there's no more compelling choice for a sports car, new or used.
Current Porsche Boxster
There are three models of the rear-wheel-drive Boxster. The base car gets a 265-horsepower 2.7-liter flat-6 engine that's mounted amidships for superior handling characteristics. The Boxster S features a 3.4-liter flat-6 good for 315 hp, while the GTS gets an upgraded version rated at 330 hp. All three are matched with a six-speed manual transmission by default, while a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual (known as PDK) is optional. A hill-holder function is included with either transmission choice to facilitate launching on a hill without inadvertently rolling backward.
This is the most comfortable and spacious Boxster yet, although standard equipment is a bit stingy -- particularly the base car's wimpy four-speaker stereo. Of course, Porsche will be happy to double the price with options, including multi-way adaptive sport seats and an upper-crust Burmester audio system. In any specification, however, the Boxster remains a pure driver's car, arguably more so than the Porsche 911. With its midengine layout and finely tuned chassis, few cars can deliver the same easily accessed driving joy as the Boxster. As long as you don't need more storage space than the small front and rear trunks provide (good luck transporting a golf bag or two), the latest Boxster is bound to please.
Used Porsche Boxster Models
The current, third-generation Porsche Boxster debuted for 2013 in base and S trims, with the sporty GTS and the optional Burmester audio system arriving for 2014. Its styling is crisper than that of the previous two generations, with relatively angular headlights and a unique full-width fin spoiler that bisects the more mature-looking taillights. The sumptuous cabin is larger and features the tall center console that has been adapted from the Panamera for the whole line of Porsche models. Although the newly added electric-assist steering isn't quite as telepathic as its predecessors, it's still sublime.
The previous, second-generation Boxster was introduced for 2005. This generation featured evolutionary but significant styling changes from its predecessor, including separate roundish headlights in place of the previous integrated headlight/turn-signal clusters. The interior underwent a major overhaul, receiving a cleaner dashboard design and richer materials. In addition, the torsional rigidity of the chassis was improved, resulting in noticeably better balance and control.
Originally, the base engine was a 2.7-liter flat-6 that 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 received a 3.4-liter engine with 295 hp. There were a few minor equipment upgrades made during this time period as well.
A more extensive refresh was implemented for 2009, starting with further upgrades for both engines. The base model now featured a 2.9-liter flat-6 good for 255 hp, while the Boxster S got a 3.4-liter flat-6 good for 310 hp. Both came standard with the six-speed manual, while PDK debuted on the Boxster's options list. Prior to this 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, an iPod interface and satellite radio were also not available. The exterior styling was also slightly different.
For 2011, the Boxster Spyder was introduced. For this specialized lightweight model, Porsche removed the sound system and air-conditioning (you could add them back as options) as well as the power-operated top. The latter was replaced by a manually operated two-piece soft top that was more tarp than roof, and about as easy to erect as a tent. But what the Spyder lost in creature comforts, it gained in other areas, notably 10 hp and even sharper handling.
While the later Boxsters of this generation are obviously a little more appealing, there's really not a bad apple in the basket. Regardless of engine or equipment level, we'd happily take one on a spirited back road run, or utilize its double trunks on a weekend getaway up the coast. Moreover, prices have come down to quite appealing levels on the used-car market, particularly for pre-refresh examples.
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-1990s, and the Boxster's simplicity, affordability and sweet driving dynamics made it a huge hit.
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 sportier 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.
First-generation Boxsters have a significant following in online forums, with many common maintenance procedures outlined in detail for those inclined to do their own work. You can pick one up for less than a new economy car these days, so the temptation has never been greater. If you do your homework and have a thorough pre-purchase inspection performed, an original Boxster could make for an excellent weekend toy on a budget.