Road Test: Porsche Boxster
Sector: Roadster Price: £37,589 Fuel: 34.4mpg CO2: 192g/km
While the Boxster is a relative newcomer to the Porsche range, it's arguably the model with the longest lineage. Porsche may have settled on a rear-mounted engine for the production 356, the 911’s predecessor, but the prototype version of 1948 was built to a now familiar recipe – an affordable two-seater with an engine in the middle and rear-wheel drive. Just like the Boxster.
So it’s ironic that Porsche’s entry-level sports car still gets branded as a pretender to the 911. A car limited slightly in its appeal by softer, more feminine styling that’s traditionally been perhaps a little too close to the carmaker’s most iconic model. Something the likes of the 924 and 944 never suffered from.
That may be about to change. The latest Boxster is a markedly different car to its predecessor, with a new face akin to the forthcoming 918 hybrid supercar, and the deep side air intakes cutting into the doors like the rare Carrera GT. With the arches filled out by wheels optionally up to 20 inches in diameter and an interior inspired by the Panamera, this is the most masculine car ever to wear the Boxster badge.
But it isn’t a cosmetic makeover. The more aggressive bodywork is up to 35kg lighter than in the old Boxster, while the redesigned chassis has grown up to 40mm in track width and 60mm in wheelbase. Just behind the driver, a new 2.7-litre direct-injection engine is 10bhp more powerful than its 2.9-litre predecessor, and 14% more efficient too.
The really good news is that the combination of lower weight and a wider, longer wheelbase has also made the Boxster as muscular to drive as the bodywork suggests. This is an infinitely controllable car, smooth and progressive in its power delivery, flat even when cornering hard and relentlessly enjoyable at legal speeds thanks to quick and communicative steering and a reassuringly mechanical gearbox. Short of a racetrack or blatant disregard for speed limits, you’ll have just as much fun using this every day as you would the 911, and the latter is twice as expensive.
In short, it feels like the Boxster has really found itself a niche alongside its spotlight-stealing big brother. It’s not a supercar, but it’s a thoroughly accomplished roadster with the broadest appeal it’s ever had.
The Boxster has long been hailed for its ability to offer a big share of 911 thrills for a fraction of the price, and at under £38,000 this new car is no different. Better still, for those who like a hard top, the same package of upgrades is bound for the Cayman later this year.
Road Test: Porsche Boxster
SECTOR Sports PRICE £37,589 – £45,384 FUEL 36.7mpg CO2 180g/km
For the lucky few, it might just be time to opt out. For the new Porsche Boxster offers up an intoxicating brew of agility, performance, luxury and surprising robustness.
The new version – priced from £37,589 for the standard car, and from £45,384 for the Boxster S – has an altogether more ergonomic and comfortable cabin, made of very high quality materials, while it looks sharper and more masculine on the outside too, with lines taken from the GT supercar of a few years ago.
It’s also up to 35kg lower in weight, with a 60mm longer wheelbase, widened track on the front and rear axles, and larger wheels and tyres which significantly enhance the performance of the new car by notably increasing its stability and agility.
The new Porsche Boxster is also powered by a choice of charismatic flat-six engines with direct petrol injection. Mid-mounted, the unit fitted in the Boxster delivers 265bhp from 2.7-litres – 10 hp more than its larger capacity 2.9-litre predecessor – while the 3.4-litre engine of the Boxster S pounds out 315bhp, 5 hp more than before, but both are more torquey.
Both models feature a manual six-speed gearbox as standard, with the seven-speed dual-clutch PDK available as an option, and both are a delight to drive. The standard Boxster doesn’t actually feel that fast, and certainly not low down in the rev range if you are used to big diesel engines pulling hard from a standstill, but they sing at the top end, where the beautifully weighted controls and precise gearbox make driving a delight. Remember that feeling?
Of course, with the Boxster you should get rock-solid residual values. The early old ones have started to weaken at last as volume eventually takes it toll but this is a wonderful two seater for those with the freedom, and budget for sporty, top down business motoring.