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When it debuted for the 1997 model year, the Porsche Boxster ushered in an era of the more affordable sports car, not to mention the more affordable Porsche. Featuring a finely balanced midengine layout, keenly responsive handling and steering, and the performance of a flat-6 engine, 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 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
The Porsche Boxster has been redesigned for 2013. Its styling is similar to that of the previous two generations, though it has a prominent spoiler on the trunk lid between the taillights, and the shape of the doors no longer resembles those of the Porsche 911. The cabin is larger and features the tall center console that has been adapted from the Panamera for the whole line of Porsche models. The chassis and suspension have been honed for sharper handling, although the newly added electric-assist might not live up to the same standard of performance.
There are two models of the rear-wheel-drive Boxster. The base car gets a 265-horsepower 2.7-liter flat-6 engine that is carried with the majority of its weight between the front and rear axles, a design that fosters quicker changes of direction. The Boxster S features a 3.4-liter flat-6 good for 315 hp. Both engine choices are matched with a six-speed manual transmission, while a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual (known as PDK) is optional. A hill-holder function is included with either transmission choice in order to make it easier to launch on a hill without inadvertently rolling backward.
This is the most comfortable and spacious Boxster yet, with such optionally available niceties as a heated steering wheel and Bose surround-sound audio. Nevertheless, 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. Our primary complaint remains the Boxster's hefty price (compared to other sports car, not other Porsches), especially once you start sampling from that options list.
Used Porsche Boxster Models
The previous, second-generation Boxster was produced from 2004 through 2012, with a fairly significant midcycle update for 2009.
When it arrived for 2005, this generation featured only evolutionary styling changes from its predecessor, but just about everything else had been revised. The interior in particular underwent a major overhaul. Both the look and materials quality of the cabin were greatly improved. In addition, the torsional rigidity of the chassis structure was marginally (but significantly) improved, noticeably improving the car's balance and control.
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.
With the '09 update, both engines were upgraded once again. 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 now got the six-speed manual, while PDK debuted on the Boxster's options list. Prior to this 2009 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 somewhat 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 practical double trunks on a weekend getaway up the coast. Its cost has been one of our few complaints, but that's obviously somewhat mitigated in the used market.
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, retro styling and affordability 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.
Read the most recent 2013 Porsche Boxster review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Porsche Boxster page.