The Porsche Boxster is a delightful sports car equally at ease being pushed to its limits or sauntering through traffic jams. The engine note is invigorating, the handling crisp, the ride elastic, the brakes sublime and the interior ideal for driving. But it is how all this works in harmony that makes the Boxster such an entertaining car.
The Boxster is perhaps the most practical mid-engine convertible sports car available today. The cabin has plenty of room and can accommodate tall individuals. The standard Boxster's levels of insulation, refinement and equipment match many sedans. There are two compact trunks, one up front and another in back, to carry a week's worth of groceries or luggage in soft-sided bags.
The Boxster lineup is so well-rounded it could come up on many shopping lists. Convertible luxury with a driver bias might pit the 2010 Boxster or Boxster S against a BMW Z4, Audi TT, or Mercedes-Benz SLK, while the performance shopper may also have a Lotus Elise or Exige on the list.
For the sports car purist, Porsche has introduced the performance-oriented Boxster Spyder as an early 2011 model. The Boxster Spyder features a manual soft-top, the 320-horsepower engine from the Cayman S and several changes to reduce weight by a total of 176 pounds. As a performance model, the Spyder gets a firmer suspension. We found the Spyder's top doesn't seal very well and it lacks the refinement and isolation of the others, but it makes up for that with even better handling and a more engaging driving experience than what's found in the Boxster S.
The Boxster uses a 2.9-liter flat-six with 255 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque. It comes with a choice of six-speed manual transmission or seven-speed automated manual double-clutch gearbox (PDK, or Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe).
The Boxster S increases performance with a 3.4-liter flat-six rated at 310 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque with six-speed manual or seven-speed PDK. Standard wheels are 8 and 9x18 alloys with P235/40ZR and P265/40ZR tires. The S can be distinguished by its red brake calipers, dual exhaust outlets, and light gray instrument backgrounds.
Virtually no one buys a Boxster for the base price, and the many options can drive the price up considerably. Great fun, though. One option we recommend is the PASM active suspension.
Porsche does not make major changes very often, preferring to get the basics right from the start and continue fine tuning from there on. The Boxster benefitted from some heavy revisions for the 2009 model year, including new engines and a new transmission, so the 2010 model year features only minor changes. Inside, the Porsche Communications Management system gets a larger (6.5-inch) touchscreen and a simplified control layout. It is also now compatible with mp3 players and offers Bluetooth cell phone connectivity. The steering wheel is now a three-spoke unit, and the sound system is now Porsche's CDR-30 unit with a CD/mp3 player. Underneath, Porsche says the 2010 Boxster's suspension has been refined to improve ride comfort and dynamic response. As part of this change, the car uses new tires and tire pressure in the rear tires is slightly reduced. Finally, the 2010 Boxster is now offered with a heated steering wheel and a new Dark Blue Metallic color.