The new Porsche Boxster is without doubt the best roadster on the planet.
We've already heaped praise on both the base 2.7 model and the range-topping 3.4 S, but every test car we'd driven until now came fitted with Porsche 's trick Torque Vectoring (PTV) system – an £890 option that can brake individual wheels to improve agility.
Here, we're testing the 2.7 model without any fancy traction aids. Is this bare-to-the-bones Boxster enough? Or do you need to fork out extra to get yourself a truly great driver's car?
What's the 2012 Porsche Boxster like to drive?
Even without the optional PTV system, the basic Boxster is immensely capable. You can carry huge speed through corners, and the vast rear-end grip allows you to power out of twists and turns even faster than you went in to them.
Entry-level Porsche Boxster is brilliant to drive
If you're buying the more powerful S model then we would consider paying the extra £890 for PTV – which also gets you a locking rear differential – because the system will allow you to get that extra power down more effectively on the way out of bends. However, the Boxster's chassis is so good that with the smaller 2.7 engine there's really no need.
The light and accurate steering helps by allowing you to position the car exactly where you want it, and the Boxster's suspension manages to control body movement, yet gives a remarkably smooth ride.
The entry-level model has more than enough power to keep you interested, too. You do need to rev its 261bhp engine beyond 5000rpm before it really comes alive, but do so and the Boxster feels a lot faster than its 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds suggests.
Our only real criticism is that the engine sounds a bit muted. Put your foot down and you hear that unmistakable Porsche howl, just not that loudly.
The fix for this – which will set you back a hefty £1473 – is the optional sports exhaust system. This gives you a button on the centre console which, when pressed, cranks up the exhaust volume a fair few notches.
The 2012 Porsche Boxster feels much faster than its 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds suggests
What's the 2012 Porsche Boxster like inside?
Folding down the fabric hood takes just nine seconds, and with the sky above your head the Boxster does a reasonable job of protecting you and your passenger from buffeting (assuming you stump up the £182 that Porsche cheekily charges for a wind deflector).
The driving position is spot-on, and the cabin is made from classy, soft-touch plastics. The Panamera-inspired centre console looks great, although the amount of controls plastered across it can be confusing until you learn which button does what.
The Boxster is reasonably practical as roadsters go, too. It has two small load spaces – one at the back and one at the front – which add up to a reasonable 280 litres. That's more than you get in an Audi TT Roadster.
However, Porsche hasn't been all that generous with standard equipment. At the very least you'll probably want to add Bluetooth (£445), rear parking sensors (£348) and heated seats (£283). These extras won't just make the Boxster easier to live with, but they'll also make it easier to sell on.
The 2012 Porsche Boxster's driving position is spot-on
Should I buy one?
If you're in the market for a roadster, then nothing else comes close to the new Porsche Boxster.
The good news is there's no need to spend an extra £7795 on the S model, or fork out for any fancy chassis aids – the 2.7 version is utterly brilliant as it is.
True, even the basic Boxster is £8500 more expensive than our favourite Audi TT, but it'll pay you back three times over in driving enjoyment and be worth considerably more than its rivals when you decide to sell.
Our reviews are based on hard data and thorough testing in the real world.
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