Porsche Boxster 981 Convertible (2012 - ) review
The Porsche Boxster could just be all the sports car you ever need. Pricier than the Audi TT and BMW Z4, but better.
- Brilliant fun to drive
- Comfortable and refined, too
- Compelling ownership proposition
- Almost too polished?
- Likely to be a common sight on UK roads
- Expensive options can inflate the price
At a glance
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. All in all, the Boxster looks every bit as exotic as much more expensive machinery, and that's the case even if you go for the cheapest version.
Climb behind the wheel of the Boxster, and you'll find an interior that looks and feels just as exotic as the bodywork. The plush materials, plus the impeccable fit and finish, give this car a sense of real quality and sophistication. Things aren't quite so hot on ergonomics, though. The dashboard's centre stack is cluttered with buttons (Porsche believes in having a separate button for every function), which makes it tricky to find the one you want at a glance. The touch-screen system works reasonably well, but there are more intuitive systems out there.
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 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.
Ride and handling
Any Porsche, especially a sporty one like the Boxster, is all about the handling, and this car really doesn't disappoint. Its light weight and mid-engined layout make it feel incredibly agile and alert when changing direction, while the strong grip, stunning body control and quick, feelsome steering allow it react instantly to every instruction you give it. This level of precision makes the Boxster a very easy car to drive quickly, and it'll never fail to put a smile on your face. And, considering its handling prowess, the ride is also exceptionally comfortable. Specify your car with Porsche's adaptive damping system, and things get even better.
All Boxsters are powered by a flat-six petrol engine. The entry-level Boxster has a 2.7 with 261bhp, the S ups the ante with a 311bhp 3.4, while the GTS has another version of the S's engine, uprated to 326bhp. They're all quick. Even the slowest gets from 0-62mph in less than six seconds, while the fastest gets there in less than five, and these figures can be cut further by adding the Sports Chrono Package, which includes launch control. To accompany this sizzling off-the-mark pace, all Boxsters also have strong in-gear acceleration for easy overtaking. What's more, the noise is every bit as appealing as the pace.
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 a sports car and CO2 emissions are also lower than some hot hatchbacks. A claimed average of around 36mpg for the PDK-equipped Boxster is a stunning figure, and the more powerful versions aren't all that far behind. Thanks to its badge and desirability, the Boxster’s strong resale value should also make it a sensible buy.
Porsche products are famed for their tried-and-tested design and huge strength. That reputation isn't always reflected in the firm's performance in reliability surveys, which in one or two cases, are pretty worrying. However, we've heard very few horror stories from owners, and Porsche dealers are usually praised for their customer service.
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.
The Boxster has 18-inch alloys as standard, while the Boxster S gets 19-inch items. An electric handbrake, seven-inch touch-screen, AUX input, automatic headlights and 4.6-inch digital instrument cluster display are standard, while the Boxster S gets bi-xenon headlights and partial leather trim. Most of the GTS's upgrades are aesthetic, but you do get the more powerful engine and adaptive suspension as standard.
If you have the money to spend on a sports car, the question should probably be, why wouldn’t you buy Boxster? It's such a sensational package that it not only sees off all its rivals, but begs the question; do you really need a more expensive sports car?