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Saturday 9th June 2012

Driven: Porsche Boxster and Boxster S

We sample the new 981 Porsche Boxster on UK roads. Is Porsche's most basic offering any good? You bet



What with the general weakness of the pound, creeping inflation and the recent VAT jump, new cars tend to feel rather expensive (£30K Golf GTI, anyone?). So it was with some surprise that I noted that, in researching the £3K Boxster we featured the other day, that the original base price for the first Porsche Boxster was £33,950.


Today, some 16 years down the line, a basic 981-gen Porsche Boxster will set you back £37,589. Which seems quite reasonable, really, especially when you consider that it has more power that the original S model did (265hp), will hit 164mph flat out and sprint to 62mph in 5.8secs (5.5secs with PDK and Sport Chrono, but then that wouldn't be a base model), stats that would leave the 204hp original gasping. And it comes with a fully electric hood (for the first time) and an interior whose quality, logical layout and generally pleasant feel will be utterly alien to those who know only the original Boxster's cabin.

The best news of all is that the humble non-S Boxster hits its sweet spot (for UK use at least) right at the bottom of the range. Which was rather fortunate for me, because since Mr Chris Harris focused on the more powerful Boxster S when he drove the car back in March, I could spend more time in the basic version when we got to sample it in Blighty recently.


Not that the S isn't a pretty fantastic car - both are blessed with beautifully balanced mid-engined handling and a sweetly linear flat six that gargles its mellifluous way up to the redline and a cracking six-speed manual gearbox. In the base car, though, everything seems just that bit more suited to British road use. Mated to the all-new direct-injection 2.7-litre engine (the 3.4 in the S is an updated version of the motor from the 987), the gearbox feels just that bit lighter and more precise, while the lower power output means you can enjoy wringing out the flat six for longer.

Perhaps the key to the new Boxster's appeal is that it appears to have been set up to be 100 per cent fit for purpose. Drive this car on a track and you will no doubt be disappointed. Expect it to be manically fast point to point and you will be disappointed. But treat it as a comfortable, usable car that can turn an empty, open B-road or A-road into an unfettered joy and you will love it.


Porsche has clearly worked hard to make this happen, too. Among the more interesting things it has done is to actually increase the size of the wheels, but in conjunction with stiffer walled tyres this has allowed them to wind back the spring and damper rates, giving a more compliant, controlled ride despite (and in fact because of) the bigger rims. On the swankier models, the torque vectoring system also works a treat, helping you to turn in to corners and making the car feel like it pivots around the driver, a most satisfying sensation.

Some will moan, inevitably, about the electric power steering system, and its perceived 'lack of feel'. No, it doesn't communicate in the same way as the rack in the old Boxster, but its accuracy and precision are without question, and the whole car just flows so well along the road you'll soon forget that the steering isn't quite perfect. Besides, as UK Boxster product manager Jim Willows explained to me, electric steering has fewer moving parts, is easier to service, and the nasty question of how to dispose of the hydraulic fluid for 100,000-mile cars is rather simply answered. And if less-than-perfect steering is as bad as things get, consider me sold.


Four-cylinder engines are around the corner for the Boxster, probably due to slot in just beneath the current base car, and who knows what they will bring. But for now, the cheapest car that Porsche makes is quite possibly also its best. Sure you can add in options, PDK gearboxes and bigger engines if you wish. But while you can make the new Porsche Boxster faster and plusher, I'm not sure you can make it better. Or better value.



PORSCHE BOXSTER
Engine:
2,706cc flat-six
Transmission: 6-speed manual/7-speed dual-clutch auto (PDK), rear-wheel drive
Power (hp):265@6,700rpm
Torque (lb ft): 206@4,500-6,500rpm
0-62mph: 5.8 sec (PDK 5.7 sec, PDK + Sport Plus 5.5 sec)
Top speed: 164mph (PDK 162mph)
Weight (DIN): 1,310kg (PDK 1,340kg)
MPG: 34.4 (PDK 36.7, both figures NEDC combined)
CO2:192g/km (PDK 180g/km)
Price: £37,589



Riggers
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Author Discussion

aston addict

Original Poster:

84 posts

45 months

[news] 
Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
Riggers, does it have any more headroom than the outgoing model? Always liked that car but found it lacked headroom, especially the Cayman.

Also the new model looks much prettier than the 911 convertible.

toppstuff

10,958 posts

134 months

[news] 
Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
Loely car.

I too am hoping it has a little more room in it than the old model.

But I have to say that IMO the example in the photos is possibly the most awful colour scheme I have seen in recent years.

Beige with a hint of urine, coupled with a cream DFS sofa coloured interior. Someone at the factory should have refused to build it when the order came in.

Krikkit

5,189 posts

68 months

[news] 
Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
toppstuff said:
But I have to say that IMO the example in the photos is possibly the most awful colour scheme I have seen in recent years.

Beige with a hint of urine, coupled with a cream DFS sofa coloured interior. Someone at the factory should have refused to build it when the order came in.
Agree with this 100% - the first Porsche I've ever seen that I would like to own, but definitely in a more agreeable colour than baby vomit.


elvismiggell

1,253 posts

38 months

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Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
Yup, I'm with the general sentiment on this one - I've always liked the idea behind the Boxster, but finally looks like they've made it into almost he perfect car for me.

Intrigued to see what will happen with the 4 cylinder versions though.

Chicane-UK

3,594 posts

72 months

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Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
Regarding the price of the current Golf GTI, a brand new Porsche Boxster looks an even more attractive proposition when put up alongside a Scirocco or Golf R with a few option boxes ticked.. they're even more expensive and serious would you rather have a Porsche (even if it is the entry level one) or a VW Golf?!

I say this as a VW enthusiast and owner - but I simply don't get VW's pricing on these models.
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Mr. Potato Head

980 posts

106 months

[news] 
Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
article said:
as UK Boxster product manager Jim Willows explained to me, electric steering has fewer moving parts, is easier to service, and the nasty question of how to dispose of the hydraulic fluid for 100,000-mile cars is rather simply answered.
What he actually means is that electric steering is cheaper and easier to install at the point of manufacture, but when you have a fault at 8 years old it costs 3 times as much to repair.

Ahm oot.

MonkeyMatt

5,330 posts

94 months

[news] 
Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
Chicane-UK said:
Regarding the price of the current Golf GTI, a brand new Porsche Boxster looks an even more attractive proposition when put up alongside a Scirocco or Golf R with a few option boxes ticked.. they're even more expensive and serious would you rather have a Porsche (even if it is the entry level one) or a VW Golf?!

I say this as a VW enthusiast and owner - but I simply don't get VW's pricing on these models.
Tick the same options in a Boxster and you start heading towards 50k!

kambites

41,274 posts

108 months

[news] 
Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
I'll have to have a go in one, but I wasn't keen on the change from 986 to 987 and it sounds like this is another step in the same direction. It's definitely better looking than the old one(s) though, I'll give it that.

Cheib

9,215 posts

62 months

[news] 
Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
Always found the looks of the original challenging but that's very,very nice.

Interesting that using bigger wheels and lower profile tyres has allowed them to improve the ride.....really don't understand how that works but would be very interested if someone could explain it!

kambites

41,274 posts

108 months

[news] 
Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
Cheib said:
Interesting that using bigger wheels and lower profile tyres has allowed them to improve the ride.....really don't understand how that works but would be very interested if someone could explain it!
I'd guess the lack of side-wall flex means that they have been able to substantially soften the springs. Of course the wheels might be lighter than the old ones, even if they're bigger; or maybe they've just improved the rest of the car that much that they can get away with fitting bigger wheels, and it would be even better with smaller ones.

Edited by kambites on Monday 11th June 09:08

daveco

2,802 posts

94 months

[news] 
Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
Cheib said:
Always found the looks of the original challenging but that's very,very nice.

Interesting that using bigger wheels and lower profile tyres has allowed them to improve the ride.....really don't understand how that works but would be very interested if someone could explain it!
More supportive seats??

hornetrider

49,508 posts

92 months

[news] 
Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
It's got to be said, at 37k for the base model (ok no-one will buy a totally boggo spec car, but even so) it represents a serious bargain when compared to other sports cars. I'm amazed that Porsche has chosen to keep the price so low given the fact that 991 prices are a bit of a jump on the 997.

kambites

41,274 posts

108 months

[news] 
Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
hornetrider said:
It's got to be said, at 37k for the base model (ok no-one will buy a totally boggo spec car, but even so) it represents a serious bargain when compared to other sports cars. I'm amazed that Porsche has chosen to keep the price so low given the fact that 991 prices are a bit of a jump on the 997.
It certainly looks good value compared to the 991 - the basic 911 always looked rather expensive to me when compared to the Cayman/Boxster but this makes it even more so.

I'm not so sure where it fits compared to other manufacturers cars - it's much more than the 370Z; and a couple of grand less than the 350SLK and Z4 35i (all of which are considerably more powerful). I'd say it's about par for the course on numbers alone and usually Porsches are better than their numbers.

Edited by kambites on Monday 11th June 09:21

billzeebub

3,160 posts

86 months

[news] 
Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
Finally has the looks to match the drive. Stunning car and a bit of a bargain at £38k. I would leave all the options boxes unticked and just revel in the lack of gadgets

Altstetten

7 posts

32 months

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Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
Which wheel size are you talking about in the review? The base spec wheel is 18 inch but the pictures are showing the Carrera S 20 inch wheel - a 2 grand option.

hornetrider

49,508 posts

92 months

[news] 
Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
billzeebub said:
Finally has the looks to match the drive. Stunning car and a bit of a bargain at £38k. I would leave all the options boxes unticked and just revel in the lack of gadgets
Thing is, you just can't.

Must go for leather to avoid resale death (preferably extended, preferably heated and preferably sports), wind deflector, xenons, PSE..... etc hehe

kambites

41,274 posts

108 months

[news] 
Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
hornetrider said:
Thing is, you just can't.

Must go for leather to avoid resale death (preferably extended, preferably heated and preferably sports), wind deflector, xenons, PSE..... etc hehe
Is there such a thing as an option that actually improves the residuals (in absolute, not % terms) in any car? I've certainly not come across one.

hornetrider

49,508 posts

92 months

[news] 
Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
kambites said:
Is there such a thing as an option that actually improves the residuals (in absolute, not % terms) in any car? I've certainly not come across one.
I don't know about absolute terms, but if you don't spec leather you'll need the patience of a saint come resale time. The market for cars lacking it is teeny tiny.

kambites

41,274 posts

108 months

[news] 
Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
hornetrider said:
kambites said:
Is there such a thing as an option that actually improves the residuals (in absolute, not % terms) in any car? I've certainly not come across one.
I don't know about absolute terms, but if you don't spec leather you'll need the patience of a saint come resale time. The market for cars lacking it is teeny tiny.
If leather costs £X new, I bet a second-hand non-leather car priced at market rate minus £X would sell pretty damned quickly; especially once the car is a few years old.

herebebeasties

296 posts

106 months

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Monday 11th June 2012 quote quote all
Can anyone tell me if the seating position/legroom/layout has improved?

I couldn't get low enough or far enough away from the pedals on the old one, and I'm not even that tall (6'2").

I do wish they'd make them a bit lighter - obviously it's a bigger car with more creature comforts, but it's a full 50% more than my Elise SC, which proper purists already think is pretty lardy.
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