Car reviews - Porsche - Boxster - convertible
Interior space, on-road competence, build quality
Room for improvement
Choppy low-speed ride, average performance of 1.6-litre version
14 Jun 2001
PORSCHE's two-seater convertible Boxster, based on the retro- meets-techno 1993 show car of the same name, is the company's rival to BMW's 2.8 Z3, the Mercedes SLK and Audi's TT.
It is the German company's first mid-engined production car since the forgotten 914/916 of the late 1960s and shares almost half of its componentry with the latest rear-engined 996 series 911.
The engine is a horizontally-opposed flat six, just like Porsches of old except that, like today's 911, it is water-cooled, with quad camshafts and four overhead valves per cylinder. The 2.5- litre capacity is exclusive to the Boxster.
Power does not come on instantly like a light switch. Instead, the six-cylinder engine loves to rev - with the sweet mechanical sound encouraging it - beyond 6000rpm where the maximum 150kW power occurs.
The impressive 245Nm of torque and surprisingly low 1250kg weight ensure the Boxster is never tardy or sluggish.
On the open road the Boxster's ability to reel in long distances reflects its autobahn breeding. Neither strong cross winds nor inclement weather upset the car's rock-solid stability. Occupants can converse with the roof down without having to shout.
Although not in the economy car league, the Boxster's frugal fuel consumption combines with the sizeable 60-litre tank for long- legged touring ability.
Helped by its mid-engined layout, the Boxster's handling is class-leading and the roadholding tenacious. Around corners it remains neutral at even high speeds. The well weighted steering communicates road conditions brilliantly and the car can be pointed with great accuracy.
Porsche is renown for building cars with excellent brakes and the Boxster's huge ventilated disc brakes, with anti-lock, are no exception.
The cabin has an austere feel about it, emphasised by the monochromatic tone in the base model. More money buys lighter full-leather trim which lifts the ambience substantially.
The interior design echoes the exterior with simple oval shapes prevalent throughout the dash. The centre console is a bulky, art-deco affair and is well built but finished in slightly cheap looking textures, at least for a $110,000-plus motor car.
The CD/radio player is infuriatingly fiddly and not especially powerful or crisp. Radio reception in built-up areas is also poor.
The seats are firm, supportive and comfortable. The driving position is low and sporty, although poor rear vision results from the twin in-built rollover hoops just behind the seats. With the electric hood erected, it is even harder to see out.
The standard equipment level befits a car of the Boxster's price and stature with electric windows, seat adjustment and roof- raising mechanism all included in the price. But the lack of a remote control for the central locking is inexcusable.
The desirable options like the 17-inch alloy wheels, full-leather trim, hardtop and electronic traction control device send the price skyrocketing.
Luggage space is limited to a small but usefully deep boot behind the engine and a smaller area in the front of the car.
Quick rather than supercar fast, the Boxster is nevertheless an exhilarating sports car for well below the price of a 911. It is also very much a Porsche so rock-solid engineering, safety, quality, style and expensive servicing are part of the experience.
- Automotive NetWorks, 05/05/1999
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