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Porsche Boxster S (2012) review

Published:09 March 2012

Porsche Boxster S (2012) review
  • At a glance
  • 5 out of 5
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  • 5 out of 5

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

This is the all-new Porsche Boxster, the third generation of Porsche’s mid-engined drop-top. Just like its big brother, the 991-gen Porsche 911, there are big changes afoot: a new aluminium/steel hybrid bodyshell, significantly tweaked vital stats, a base engine that gets 200cc smaller while also gaining performance, and new electromechanical steering.

Read on for our first drive review of the new Porsche Boxster S...

More info on those vital stats for the new Porsche Boxster, please…

Overall length goes up by 29mm, the width stays the same, while the Boxster sits 11mm lower, helping to reduce the centre of gravity by 7mm. The wheelbase is 60mm longer – better for driving dynamics and comfort, says Porsche – the base of the windscreen sits 40mm further forward from the car’s centre point, giving a more cab-forward stance, while the overhangs are reduced and the driver’s seat is positioned 10mm closer to terra firma too. The body is also 40% stiffer than before, the kerbweight of the basic Boxster pared by 35kg to 1310kg despite the increased dimensions.

Good, now tell me about the performance stats…

The base model shrinks from 2.9 to 2.7 litres, but the old car’s 248bhp at 6400rpm, 30mpg and 221g/km improves to 261bhp at 6700rpm, 34.4mpg and 192g/km – only the torque slips back from 214lb ft at 4400rpm-6000rpm to 207lb ft at 4500-6500rpm.

The 3.4-litre engine size remains the same for the Boxster S, but the old model’s 302bhp @ 6400rpm, 265lb ft @ 4400-5500rpm, 29.7mpg and 223g/km becomes an all-round-improved 311bhp @ 6700rpm, 266lb ft @ 4500-5800rpm, 32.1mpg and 206g/km. At under eight minutes, the Boxster S’s Nürburgring lap time should be around 14sec faster than its predecessor, too.

Prices go up by around £1k for the base Boxster, and £1.5k for the Boxster S, while the PDK transmission adds a whisker under £2k to both models.

Is it still as noisy inside?

No, a new hood with an extra layer of insulation helps to quiet the interior by a very significant 2dB. It’s also incredibly quick to drop at an astounding 9sec, down from the last Boxster’s still quick 12sec. In practice it’s even faster too, because it’s fully automatic, where you previously had to first unclip a latch on the header rail.

There are more benefits too: you can drop the roof on the go at speeds well above 30mph, and the folded roof doesn’t eat into any luggage space – folding hardtops insist that you stop to drop the roof, and they do eat into luggage space.

One niggle, though: the old roof sat beneath a metal panel when stowed, but that panel has now been removed, meaning the part of the roof that normally attaches to the header rail remains on view. Not a problem in itself, but the large gaps between the stowed roof and the bodywork look messy.

How does the Boxster drive?

Our Boxster S PDK was fantastic. The ride is noticeably more supple than before, and our optional PDK dual-clutch gearbox is improved too: the slight slur of ratios in the previous model has been replaced by a more engaging snap of engagement.

The engine is also fabulous: there’s more stodge at low revs than you’ll experience in a basic 911 Carrera, but get the revs spinning and it’s incredibly rewarding, with a hungry howl and a real appetite for pulling through the rpms. Whatever the engine speed, you’ll always notice the incredibly keen throttle response – a real benefit of Porsche not taking the turbo route like so many rivals.

The Boxster was always class-leading in the chassis department, but there’s a renewed keenness to the way it changes direction, the nose darting this way and that with absolute immediacy. And when the rear does break away, it feels incredibly balanced and controllable.

And the electric steering?

It’s very impressive, accurate and nicely weighted, but the crackle of feedback that was such a cornerstone of Porsche DNA is gone. It seems an unnecessary sacrifice for such a small saving in fuel – hydraulic power assistance relies on the engine, and therefore makes it work harder and less efficiently.

Verdict

The Boxster has long been one of the world’s best – if not the best – all-round sports cars, with sharp handling, affordable running costs, great powertrains and a price tag that undercuts the 911 Cabriolet by more than 50%. The third-generation model only improves things and, while we’re not totally sold on the electric power steering, it doesn’t really diminish the Boxster’s all-round appeal. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. 

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Specs

Price when new: £47,306
On sale in the UK: April 2012
Engine: 3436cc 24v flat six, 311bhp @ 6700rpm, 265lb ft @ 4400rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch PDK, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 5.0sec 0-62mph, 172mph, 35.3mpg, 188g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1350kg/aluminium and steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4371/1801/1281mm

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  • Porsche Boxster S (2012) review
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  • Porsche Boxster S (2012) review
  • Porsche Boxster S (2012) review
  • Porsche Boxster S (2012) review
  • Porsche Boxster S (2012) review
  • Porsche Boxster S (2012) review
  • Porsche Boxster S (2012) review
  • Porsche Boxster S (2012) review
  • Porsche Boxster S (2012) review
  • Porsche Boxster S (2012) review
  • Porsche Boxster S (2012) review
  • Porsche Boxster S (2012) review

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

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