Porsche Boxster Performance
Test drivers are left aghast by the Boxster's superb handling dynamics. Compared to the Cayman, Kelley Blue Book finds that off the track the Boxster "provides comparable performance excitement with the added allure of a convertible top, a bit more comfort and definitely more available storage via two roomy trunks." Still, Kelley Blue Book concedes that "the Cayman, by virtue of the added rigidity of its hardtop, maintains the ultimate edge in handling."
Acceleration and Power
The Boxster is powered by a 2.7-liter V6 engine that makes 245 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 201 pound-feet of torque at 4,600 to 6,000 rpm. The more powerful Boxster S, however, is powered by a 3.4-liter V6 engine that makes 295 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 251 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 to 6,000 rpm.
Though the Boxster is often compared to its hard-top Cayman brother, an auto writer for Automobile Magazine writes, "I can assure you that the Boxster is pretty hard-core in its own right," and adds, "If you think the Boxster's fabric roof marks it as some kind of fluffy poseur car, try exploring its limits on a public road -- and get back to me when you've regained your ability to speak in complete sentences." Automobile.com adds that thanks to all the power, "it doesn't take long to ramp up to highway speeds and beyond." Porsche reports that the manual/automatic transmission Boxster has a top speed of 160/156 miles per hour (mph) and does 0 to 60 mph in 5.8/6.7 seconds. The Boxster S, however, has a top speed of 169/164 mph and does 0 to 60 mph in only 5.1/5.8 seconds.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the most fuel-efficient model is the manual transmission Boxster, with a city/highway fuel economy of 20/29 miles per gallon (mpg). The least efficient is the automatic transmission Boxster S, with a fuel economy of 18/25 mpg. "With either transmission, EPA fuel economy estimates are reasonable for a car with such stellar performance potential," comments Edmunds.
While the Orlando Sentinel describes the base-model Boxster's five-speed manual transmission as "nicely spaced and easy to shift," the Boxster S' six-speed manual is the reviewers' favorite. In fact, Kelley Blue Book concludes that "those physically capable should consider only the ultra-slick six-speed manual." Even so, a well-received optional Tiptronic S transmission is available for either trim. "With the shift buttons placed on the steering wheel, the tiptronic is a delight to experience and in most city situations -- a welcome relief from the push and pull of the clutch and gears," writes Road & Travel Magazine. "Although the purists prefer the six speed shifter, the Boxster tiptronic is optimized to shift according to your driving patterns." The Orlando Sentinel adds that it's "among the best, but it's pricey, too."
Handling and Braking
The 2008 Boxster's solid road performance leaves auto critics impressed. "Porsches are excellent driving machines and both Boxster models more than live up to that heritage," comments Kelley Blue Book. "They are rewarding to drive at nearly any level of expertise." Edmunds adds that the Boxster is a "wonderfully athletic machine with extraordinary chassis balance -- when tossed around, it manages to feel glued to the road and light on its feet at the same time."
Being both responsive and well-balanced, the Boxster's steering offers impressive road feel. "The feel and responsiveness of the steering is incredible, allowing for accurate and exact placement through just about any type of turn at just about any speed," writes Kelley Blue Book. While Consumer Guide describes the steering as "natural, communicative, responsive," Edmunds says it "seems to be hard wired into the driver's thought processes." Automobile.com concludes that its steering isn't "as edgy as a Lotus Elise but a great deal more sporting than a Mercedes-Benz SLK."
The Boxster's suspension configuration offers a stiff ride -- but not stiff enough to hamper its driving enjoyment. "Some may find the Boxster's around-town ride too stiff, but it's never really harsh and is truly a small price to pay for this two-seater's rapid, undiluted reflexes," says Edmunds. Automobile.com adds, "Even over bumpy pavement sections it's hardly harsh, although it's still easy to feel each pavement irregularity through the tires and steering wheel; a good thing."
Standard on all Boxster trims are four-piston monobloc fixed alloy calipers and ventilated brake discs, as well as an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS). The entire system gets good reviews. In fact, Automobile.com writes that the Boxster features "braking that's dramatically efficient when needed, but progressive enough for smooth stops during regular commuting." Consumer Guide adds that the brakes "inspire confidence."
Both trim levels feature Porsche Stability Management (PSM) -- which monitors driver inputs and employs selective braking in order to help the driver maintain control of the car. According to Kelley Blue Book, the system "is great for what it doesn't do -- interfere with your fun during aggressive driving, as much as what it does do -- bail you out when the fun stops because your gumption has exceeded your ability."
Optional for the Boxster and Boxster S is Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) -- which automatically alters the suspension's configuration in order to match road conditions, as well as driver inputs. Kelley Blue Book notes that "the combination of optional 19-inch wheels and the 'sport' setting of the PASM on certain road surfaces can result in a very harsh ride."
Also optional is Porsche's Sport Chrono Package -- which enhances engine response to pedal thrusts, quickens gearshifts on vehicles equipped with Tiptronic S, prevents unwanted upshifts in manual mode, utilizes PASM to stiffen the vehicle's suspension configuration, and employs PSM. A digital/analog timer keeps track of record times realized by the vehicle.