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Car Review

Porsche Boxster (1996-2004) review

Published: 03 Sep 2021
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

At the start of the Boxster's life, it wasn't really about how fast it went, but how sweetly.

So if the on-paper performance doesn't whelm you, think about its nature. While the little six is just mooching, you can barely discern the separate pistons. It's like a turbine.

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Give it some proper work to do, as you must, getting the rev needle deep into the fours and five and the engine comes alive, doing that charismatic breathy howl. Throttle response is mustard-keen, the pedal scalpel-accurate. Towards the red line the noise eases a little softer before a final crescendo again.

Time your gearshifts carefully or you'll be out of the powerband. Not just because it's narrow, but because some of the ratio gaps in the five-speed box are pretty wide.

The precision the throttle finds is matched in the clutch, brakes and steering. A gorgeous four-part harmony.

The steering's wonderful. A lost art – this hydraulically assisted system is nicer than the electric setup on new Boxsters. It chatters with every nuance of road surface and tyre force. That makes you feel confident in it, and part of the car. You'll be nudging into mild understeer most of the time, so the steering lets you know when the end of grip is close. In the dry, you can neutralise it, but no more than that, with throttle. A wet road lets you nudge the tail out.

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Softish springs and gentle dampers are just enough to caress away excess motions while keeping you comfortable. The midship engine mass means it's much less pitch-prone on a B-road than a 911, so you can get on with the job of guiding the Boxster neatly along.

Variants We Have Tested

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