What's New for 2008
The Porsche Boxster remains largely unchanged for 2008, although there is a Limited Edition model that features some cosmetic modifications. On the options list, you'll find new lightweight sport seats made from fiberglass and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic.
In 1997, the convertible Porsche Boxster ushered in an era of the more affordable Porsche. Oddly enough, it's now the base version of the Cayenne, the company's SUV, that's the least expensive Porsche. But that's where the similarities end. The current Boxster, like the original, features a nicely balanced midengine/rear-drive layout and the proven performance of a responsive flat-6 engine.
Three years ago, the second-generation Boxster roadster debuted and in 2007 more powerful engines were added. Those new engines make the current generation Boxster the most powerful ever. The S model delivers 295 horsepower while the standard model provides a perfectly adequate 245 hp.
Porsche introduced the hardtop version of the Boxster, the Cayman, two years ago, but the Boxster delivers a more premium feel inside with the added fun of a convertible top. Plenty of leather and attractive faux metallic trim give the Boxster a luxurious look, and it remains competent as a weekend getaway car or even as a daily commuter.
But the classically styled 2008 Porsche Boxster is also a serious, purpose-built midengine roadster designed to travel hard and fast -- sometimes demanding a driver's undivided attention but rewarding the skilled driver with razor-sharp, real-time feedback. Dynamically, no other roadster can match it. If that's what you're after and you can swing the luxury-oriented bottom line, you couldn't convince us of a more compelling choice.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Porsche Boxster sports car comes as either the basic Boxster or the massaged, pricier Boxster S. They are visually similar except for the additional center front grille opening, red brake calipers and dual exhaust outlets on the S. Standard equipment on both models includes 17-inch wheels (18s for the S), fast-operating power top (lowers in about 12 seconds), leather upholstery and a seven-speaker CD stereo. Both the base Boxster and S model are offered in Limited Edition trim as well. This option is basically a retro paint theme with orange paint covering the exterior and parts of the interior. The roll bar even has orange trim. Other minor changes include a modified front spoiler and a revised rear spoiler.
Being a Porsche, the Boxster's price heads north rather quickly once options are added. And there are many options to choose from -- more than 100 separate options, packages and color combinations are available on the base Boxster alone. Major highlights include 19-inch wheels, ceramic composite brakes, full leather/power/heated seats, automatic climate control, Bose digital audio, a navigation system, bi-xenon HID headlights, park assist and a removable aluminum hardtop.
Powertrains and Performance
The Boxster S is powered by a 3.4-liter flat-6 that's good for 295 hp and 251 pound-feet of torque. Base models have a 2.7-liter flat-6 providing 245 hp and 201 lb-ft of torque. The regular Boxster comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission. A six-speed is optional and comes standard on the Boxster S. Either Boxster can be fitted with a five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control.
In instrumented testing, a Boxster S accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 5 seconds flat and hit the quarter-mile in 13.4 seconds. Fuel economy isn't too shabby, either. A base Boxster with the five-speed manual earns an estimated 20 mpg city/29 mpg highway, while a manual-equipped S has an 18/26 mpg rating.
Standard safety features for the 2008 Porsche Boxster include antilock disc brakes, stability/traction control, dual thorax/head side-impact airbags and roll-over safety bars.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Boxster's interior boasts premium materials, proper sports car seating and leather everywhere, plus an oversized and center-mounted tach, right where it belongs. The array of interior controls, especially the audio and climate control systems, can be initially confusing, however.
Seat comfort is extraordinary for both occupants, and the leather-wrapped steering wheel feels a bit large at first -- until you quickly realize it's perfectly sized after all. Wind control with the top down is excellent, but we found that top-up wind noise above 70 mph can sometimes be enough to challenge both conversation and the Boxster's sound system. On the upside, this is still one of the most practical two-seaters you'll find, with a sizable trunk up front and out back.
The midengine 2008 Porsche Boxster is a wonderfully athletic machine -- when tossed around, it manages to feel glued to the road and light on its feet at the same time. Body roll and midcorner bumps are never an issue, while its variable-ratio steering seems to be hard-wired into the driver's thought processes. In a Boxster, running out of car is rarely part of the equation. Throttle response is tight and lively, and its brakes are among the best we've ever tested. Some may find the Boxster's around-town ride too stiff, but it's never particularly harsh and is truly a small price to pay for this two-seater's rapid, undiluted reflexes.