Porsche Boxster convertible (2012 – ) expert review

By Andy Goodwin & Ivan Aistrop, 16th May 2014

The verdict

The Porsche Boxster could be all the sports car you ever need. Immersive handling, smooth and exciting engines and rock-solid build quality make this a class-leading car.

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Expert rating:

4.5

Pros

  • Brilliant fun to drive
  • Comfortable and refined too
  • Compelling ownership proposition

Cons

  • Almost too polished?
  • Likely to be a common sight on UK roads
  • Expensive options can inflate the price

Full Review

1.  Exterior

The latest Porsche Boxster is undoubtedly the best-looking yet, with stronger proportions and neater details than the already handsome outgoing Boxster. It has a wider bonnet and more pronounced raised front wings, as well as deeply scalloped side intakes on both sides of the car. From the rear it also appears wider, with a neat boot-lip spoiler integrated into the rear light clusters. Design cues have been taken from the Carrera GT supercar and forthcoming 918 Spyder and the Boxster looks more exotic as a result. The Nissan 370Z Roadster, BMW Z4, Mercedes SLK and Lotus Elise are all cars you’d be proud to park in front of your house, but to our eyes the Boxster comes closest to having the perfect sports car design.

Our rating: 5

2. Interior

Perhaps even more noticeable than the exterior upgrades, are the ones found in the cabin. The dashboard and central console have been brought in line with the Cayenne, Panamera and 911 and feel extremely grown-up and sturdy. Choose a dark interior trim and it can feel a bit serious for a car designed to let the driver have fun, but you soon realise its excellent functionality takes care of the boring stuff so you can get on with driving. You sit right in the middle of the car and that low bonnet gives you an excellent cab-forward view of the road ahead.

Our rating: 4

3. Practicality

To look at the Boxster you would think it would perform very badly here, but the combination of its twin front and rear luggage bays actually allows a surprising number of small bags or suitcases to be stowed away. A strict two-seater, the front seats are comfortable for longer trips and adjust in combination with a reach and rake steering column. There’s decent headroom with the hood in place and noise insulation as well as security are good thanks to the multi-layered design of the soft-top, which can be put up and down at speeds up to 30mph.

Our rating: 4

4. Ride and handling

The Boxster has long been heralded as one of the best-handling sports cars on sale, and there’s no change this time around. The biggest difference is a 60mm longer distance between the front and rear wheels, which ultimately makes the Boxster even more stable and grippy than before. Around the infamous Nurburgring Nordschleife the latest Boxster S posts the same 7 minutes 58 seconds lap time as the Porsche 997 GT3, which just goes to show how grown-up the entry-level Porsche has become. We found the Boxster incredibly precise and accurate to drive quickly, while also providing impressive comfort, which just goes to show how well its suspension has been judged for UK roads. Our only concern is that the Boxster is now so capable, its limits are set beyond what can be enjoyed on a public road without breaking the speed limit.

Our rating: 5

5. Performance

There are two flavours here: Boxster or Boxster S, with 265 or 315bhp from flat-six engines measuring 2.7 and 3.4-litres in capacity. Those figures are up from 255 and 310bhp in the previous model, despite the Boxster’s engine having shrunk from 2.9-litres. Both engines are a pleasure to use, with a cultured but exciting engine note and impressive flexibility. Acceleration from rest to 62mph takes 5.8 seconds in the standard car or 5.1 seconds in the S, with the automatic PDK gearbox shaving 0.1 seconds off those figures and the optional Sport Chrono pack shrinking them by a further 0.2 seconds. In reality the Boxster won’t be quick enough for some drivers, no doubt irritated by the fact some hot hatchbacks will keep up with it. But, we had a blast in it, and found pleasure to be had in enjoying the first few gears, concentrating on using the power available. The S instantly feels more serious, and more forgiving of lazy driving, thanks to its ability to rapidly make up ground as soon as you squeeze the throttle.

Our rating: 5

6. Running costs

While Porsche ownership will never be cheap, this is the most affordable model in the range and represents great value. Fuel economy is very impressive for such a sporting car and CO2 emissions are also lower than some sporting hatchbacks. A claimed average of 36.7mpg for the PDK equipped Boxster is a stunning figure. Thanks to its badge and desirability, the Boxster’s retained value should also make it a sensible buy.

Our rating: 5

7. Reliability

Porsche products are famed for their tried and tested design and huge strength. Much of its know-how is learnt on track, with more Porsche racing cars competing around the world than any other marque. The Boxster test cars we drove felt robust and well-finished, inside and out.

Our rating: 4

8. Safety

Front and side airbags are standard, as is an unobtrusive electronic stability control system and well-judged anti-lock brakes. We found the standard steel brakes more than up to the job, but light weight and fade-resistant ceramic brakes are also available, and could prove worthwhile if you plan on lots of track days. There are permanent roll-over hoops and the soft-top is now thicker and more resilient than before.

Our rating: 4

9. Equipment

The Boxster has 18-inch alloys as standard, while the Boxster S gets 19-inch items. An electric handbrake, seven-inch touchscreen, AUX input, auto headlights and 4.6-inch TFT instrument cluster display are standard, while the Boxster S gets bi-xenon headlights and partial leather trim. Popular optional extras are expected to be the wind deflector, park assist, Bluetooth, heated seats.

Our rating: 4

Why buy?

If you have the money to spend on a sports car, the question should probably be, why wouldn’t you buy? The Porsche Boxster is such a great car it not only sees off all its rivals, but begs the question; do you really need a more expensive sports car?

Our rating: 5

Expert review 4.5stars

  • Exterior5
  • Interior4
  • Practicality4
  • Ride and handling5
  • Performance5
  • Running costs5
  • Reliability4
  • Safety4
  • Equipment4
  • Why buy?5

We found the Boxster incredibly precise and accurate to drive quickly, while also providing impressive comfort, which just goes to show how well its suspension has been judged for UK roads