What's New for 1998
Side airbags are standard for 1998.
Car buff magazines have been proclaiming the rebirth of the sports car market since the introduction of the BMW Z3 in the winter of 1996. One year later their prediction was validated with the introduction of the Mercedes SLK and Porsche Boxster. The most anticipated of these wonderfully impractical cars, however, has to be the Porsche Boxster. Porsche is slow to change, and even slower to introduce new products. (The previous 911 design has been around for an astounding 30 years, and it was just updated this year.) When Porsche does introduce a new product, though, it is guaranteed to cause a stir.
We think that the Boxster deserves the attention it's getting. The Boxster was a clean-sheet design that was built around an all new horizontally opposed (boxer-type) engine. The engine is mounted midship for ideal weight distribution and displaces a relatively thrifty 2.5 liters. Innovations on this engine include Porsche's first use of water cooling as well as their first use of Porsche's VarioCam variable valve-timing technology on a six-cylinder engine. This engine produces 201 horsepower, which is the best in this class, and 181 foot-pounds of torque.
The Boxster is available with a five-speed manual or a five-speed Tiptronic transmission. The Boxster's Tiptronic transmission differs from Tiptronic transmissions found on other Porsche models because it features five forward speeds instead of four and has the manual mode gear selector switches mounted exclusively on the steering wheel.
Aside from the mechanical innovations, the Boxster also features a few practical features that we think buyers will appreciate. First, the Boxster offers more cargo area than any of its competitors due to the inclusion of front and rear trunks. This front/rear trunk design produces an impressive 9.1 cubic feet of cargo space, and is made possible by the mid-engine design. Second, the Porsche has a very livable cockpit that has a great deal of space for two occupants and features wonderful, cradling seats. Lastly, the Boxster has the fastest closing automatic top in the business, going from completely open to completely closed in a scant 12 seconds; perfect for those unexpected rain showers.
For 1998, the Boxster's second year on the market, Porsche added side airbags, and otherwise left the car unchanged. (That's the sort of evolutionary change we're talking about.)
The real reason that people will buy this car, however, rests with the fact that it is a Porsche that regular people can afford. The Boxster is not some cheap imitation of a Porsche like the 914, nor a second-best, front-engine design like the 944; it is built the way a Porsche should be, with a six-cylinder engine mounted behind the driver. With prices starting at $23,000 under the 911 Carrera Coupe, the Boxster's price tag leaves enough money in the bank to park a practical sedan or sport utility next to it in the garage.