What is it?
For the first time since its launch in 1996, the Porsche Boxster has been completely revised. This MkIII model is sharper, tauter, and nothing like a bar of soap, which can only be a good thing. Indeed, the clipped rear end now boasts a Carrera GT-ish ridgeline running through its rear lights, hiding a pop-up spoiler. While it’s longer, the shaved front overhang stops it looking bigger, and there’s an overall tautness to the design that makes it look solid but deft.
Two flavours are available for the moment, the 265bhp 2.7-litre or the S with a 3.4-litre 315bhp motor, both classic flat-six configurations.
The Boxster is very, very good. It has a superb dual nature, acting like a big car when it really shouldn’t, yet instantly flipping into fun little roadster when the roads get twisty. The chassis is massively competent, with loads of lateral grip and a wonderful ability to put a smile on your face. It delivers this without punishing the occupants either: the ride is very able and, as the quality of the roads degenerate, it seems only to improve. The only quibble is with the new electro-mechanical steering: pin-sharp accurate, but perhaps a little numb.
Both engines are wonderful, revving sweetly right up to nearly 8,000rpm. The 2.7-litre is perhaps the sweeter of the two, but such is the chassis’ breadth of ability, you’ll want the 3.4-litre to make best use of it. We’d favour the snickety six-speed manual but the optional PDK comes with various electronic buttons to up the intensity and lower the 0-60mph times further.
On the inside
There’s an all-new cabin for the Boxster, derived from the 911 and showing a marked step up in perceived appeal. The high-set centre console and charismatic dial pack mean it imitates the mighty Carrera GT supercar inside, and the whole setup feels extremely sophisticated. Seats are both comfier and more supportive and architecturally it feels more modern, with the car’s extra length used to move the cabin forward and rake the windscreen back.
The roof lowers in nine seconds and a magnesium frame forms the top section and acts as a ‘lid’ when folded. This saves weight and means the back of the Boxster no longer looks porky – either roof up or down.
Despite being a thrilling sportscar, economy for both engines hovers in the low-to-mid-30s: stop-start is included on both and there’s also a clever ‘coasting’ function that reduces engine revs on a trailing throttle. Prices are up on before, but only by around £1,000, and the car has been improved so much, there’s probably not a better open-top car out there.