What Car? says...
If you want a convertible there are so many to choose from that you're spoilt for choice. But what if you want a two-seater convertible that goes like a sports car – you know, one that's not just for posing, it's also spry and will make smile like it's summer all year round? Then you should look at the Porsche 718 Boxster.
It really is the default choice, assuming your budget doesn't run into McLaren 570S Spyder territory – and let's face it, most people's doesn't. It’s basically the Porsche 718 Cayman – one of the best sports cars on sale – with the roof removed but very little, if anything, left on the table dynamically.
That’s why the Boxster is not only comparable with drop-top cars, such as the Audi TT Roadster, BMW Z4 and Jaguar F-Type Convertible, but also hardtop, hard-core sports cars, such as the Alpine A110 and Toyota Supra. Oh yes, and it doesn't hurt that it comes as standard with a Porsche badge on its nose to impress the neighbours.
Throughout this review, we'll be talking about what the Boxster is like to drive and live with every day, but also comparing it with all those cars. That way, whatever it is you are looking for from your convertible, you'll be able to make the right choice.
And when you have made up your mind, why not see if our New Car Buying service can offer you a tempting discount on the car you've chosen? We have loads of top-rate deals offered, without a hint of a haggle involved, on almost every new car out there.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
If you're looking for a car that's the bee's knees to drive, the entry-level Boxster 2.0-litre is a sound choice. With 296bhp it's not slow (0-62mph in 4.7sec when you fit the optional seven-speed PDK automatic gearbox and Sports Chrono Pack, or 5.1sec with the standard six-speed manual 'box) and it has a sporting power delivery that builds willingly through the rev range, but gets really gusty from around 3000rpm.
Don't buy the S model. It's quicker (0-62mph in as little as 4.4sec) but not as sweet, with some unpleasant flat spots as you rev it. Instead, for keen drivers, we'd advise going for the Alpine A110 or, if you just want speed with the wind in your hair, an Audi TT Roadster. That's unless your budget can stretch to the Boxster GTS, which has a 395bhp six-cylinder motor that's an absolute gem and the pick of the range. It'll pull easily from low revs in higher gears, but offers explosive energy when you want to drive your sports car like a sports car – that is, flat out. It really is worth the extra cash. The Boxster Spyder offers another 20bhp on top, and you can read about that in our separate review by clicking the link.
The six-speed manual gearbox is more entertaining for keener drivers, but its long gearing means you’ll rarely need more than second and third for spirited – but still legal – driving. The optional fast-shifting, seven-speed PDK automatic gearbox is worth considering for those expecting to do a lot of slogging through traffic. Braking performance from the standard brakes is good, so only think about the expensive carbon-ceramic option if you're going to do track days.
Suspension and ride comfort
Adaptive dampers called Porsche Active Suspension Management, or PASM for short, with a 20mm lower ride height are optional on the Boxster and Boxster S, but standard on the T and GTS. We've only ever tried models with this suspension fitted and it makes the Boxster ride remarkably well by sports car standards – even with big 20in alloy wheels.
Sure, it's firm-ish, but the damping is good enough that it keeps you from feeling uncomfortable over the usual lumps and bumps. Only really big imperfections, mainly around town, expose the car's inherent stiffness.
The BMW Z4 is noticeably softer but also bouncier over really undulating roads, while the lighter Alpine A110 manages the balance between firmness and control just that little bit better than the Boxster.
Any sports car (convertible or not) worth its salt needs to offer handling excitement in spades and the Boxster doesn’t disappoint. Its steering is wonderfully accurate and precise, with enough feedback to give the driver plenty of confidence. Turn in to a bend and there’s virtually no body roll and an enormous amount of grip.
Put simply, its handling is on a different level to rivals such as the Audi TT Roadster, BMW Z4, Toyota Supra and Jaguar F-Type Convertible. Only the lightweight Alpine A110 is its equal, but in a different way. It leans more, has less grip and lower limits than the Boxster, but that helps it feel a little more playful on the road, and some drivers will prefer that.
The Boxster, meanwhile, has a wonderfully broad range of talents. It feels at home on fast, sweeping corners (on the road or a race track) just as much as it does pottering around town, where the steering is light enough to make parking easy.
Noise and vibration
There is no question which engine to buy for the right noise: the 4.0-litre, six-cylinder in the Boxster GTS and Spyder. It's rich and soulful, which is exactly what you want from a sports car, and in the Boxster, with the roof down, it sounds even more invigorating. So much so that even the V8s in the Jaguar F-Type Convertible can't quite compete – they're loud but their note sounds contrived.
You’ll be very disappointed by the noise of the four-cylinder engines in the Boxster 2.0-litre and Boxster S 2.5-litre. Their monotonous drone isn't too dissimilar to the original Volkswagen Beetle's, although the 2.0-litre is smoother and less obnoxious than the 2.5-litre. If your budget doesn't stretch to a GTS and you want a cool-sounding sports car then try the Alpine A110 instead; it still uses a four-cylinder engine but one that's much sweeter than the Boxster's.
The standard six-speed manual has one of the nicest shift actions you’ll find on any car and the PDK auto is equally adept. Wind and road noise are the biggest bugbears of Boxster ownership – with the roof up there's more of both on the motorway compared with a BMW Z4. On the plus side, with the roof down and the wind deflector in place, buffeting in the Boxster is minimal.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
The standard seats have manual controls for back-and-forth adjustment with a button to electrically adjust the angle of the backrest. If you want lumbar adjustment you'll need to order the optional 14-way electrically adjustable Sports seats, or the 18-way Sports Seats Plus, which include adjustable side bolsters as well.
Any of those options will supply great levels of comfort and support, while the racing-style sports bucket seats that are also available are more about the latter. They're deep, so getting in and out isn't as easy, with fixed-angle backrests and firm cushions – be warned if you're planning on using your car daily.
The rest of the driving position is just about spot on. The pedals are positioned perfectly and the steering wheel has so much breadth of adjustment that you should be able to get suitably set up. Even the buttons on the dashboard are easy to get to grips with; they may look a little confusing at first but you quickly learn to find them by feel while driving.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Sports cars and convertibles are notoriously hard to see out of, with thick pillars, small rear windows and a low driving position. In the Boxster it's easy to see out frontwards and to judge its width, and when the roof 's up the small rear screen still offers an okay view of what’s behind. However, the section of fabric behind the door glass can make exiting Y-junctions a quite tricky, but the same is true in the Audi TT and BMW Z4.
Parking sensors are available as an option. You can choose rear parking sensors on their own, all-round parking sensors or the latter as part of a pack that also includes a rear-view camera. We’d strongly recommend adding at least the rear parking sensors, partly to help prevent clumsy (and expensive) parking dings but also to make your Boxster easier to sell on in the future.
At night, the standard bi-xenon headlights offer excellent illumination. You can upgrade these to directional headlights that aim their beams with the steering to help you see better through bends, or you can go a stage further and opt for the adaptive LED headlights that can remain on main beam without affecting other drivers.
Sat nav and infotainment
As standard, you get a relatively crisp-looking 7.0in touchscreen, complete with Bluetooth, a DAB radio and sat-nav. It also comes equipped with Apple CarPlay, so you can mirror your iPhone to the screen. If you subscribe to a data package, you can also make use of on-board wi-fi and music streaming.
The touchscreen is within easy reach, is quick to respond to your inputs and the menus are reasonably logically laid out, with shortcut buttons to help you find the major functions. However, some rivals' systems are better; the Audi TT's MMI, for instance, is easier to operate on the move thanks to its rotary-dial controller, as is the BMW Z4's iDrive. The Alpine A110, on the other hand, has a dreadful infotainment system.
There are no audio controls on the steering wheel unless you pay extra, and the standard stereo is a comparatively low-spec system with six speakers and 110W. Of course, (you guessed it) you can pay to upgrade to higher-end versions; the first option is a relatively affordable Bose system with 10 speakers and 505W, while the second is a pretty pricey 12-speaker, 821W Burmester unit.
Porsche has a reputation for building smart interiors and the Boxster doesn’t let the side down. As standard, you get solid, high-quality buttons and switches, and everything feels like it has been screwed together tightly. Plus, almost everything you touch in the interior is covered in dense, soft-touch materials, while you sit on Alcantara and leatherette-trimmed seats – or part natural leather on S models.
Spend even more and you can have full-leather seats, a leather-covered dash and door panels, or go to town with additional Alcantara or wood finishes. Even without these fripperies, the Boxster feels far more special to sit in than the Alpine A110 and at least on a par with a BMW Z4 or the more expensive Jaguar F-Type Convertible.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Despite having its engine mounted in the middle of the car, the 718 Boxster offers more than enough room to accommodate a couple of taller folks. It’s also wide enough to ensure that you’re never brushing elbows with whomever's sitting next to you, and it's less claustrophobic than a Jaguar F-Type Convertible.
Storage is more of an issue. There's a decent-sized glovebox, a couple of cupholders and several cubbies, including two in the doors and one in the centre armrest, each of which is big enough to take a mobile phone. But the door pockets are shallow, tricky to access and certainly not big enough for something chunky, such as a bottle of water.
Probably the biggest disadvantage of the Boxster's mid-engine layout is that there’s nothing but bulkhead behind the front seats. Some two-seater convertibles, such as the BMW Z4, offer cubbies or luggage nets to helpfully stow loose items behind the seats.
If you’re not the tallest of drivers, and your seat isn't slid all the way back against the rear bulkhead, they will be a small gap behind the seat that you can slide anything slim into. Also, there is a hook on the back of each seat to hang a jacket on.
Seat folding and flexibility
Apart from having an electrically adjustable backrest as standard, the Boxster's passenger seat doesn’t do anything of note. You can add 14-way electric adjustment that includes lumbar support, or an 18-way seat that feature adjustable side bolsters.
The Boxster gives you a choice of two boots in which to stow your bags: one in the nose and the other in the usual place, at the back of the car. While neither offers a massive amount of space there's more room to play with than you get in the Alpine A110 or Jaguar F-Type Convertible. Combined, that means enough space for a few soft weekend bags, a pair of small suitcases or a weekly shop. Forget about golf clubs, though – you’ll have to choose between those or a passenger.
If you need to carry anything more substantial, the Z4 has a bigger boot and the option of a ski hatch, which means you can carry longer items, too.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
It’s got the Porsche badge on its nose, so, naturally, buying a 718 Boxster will require a hefty initial investment (with no discounts available, either) – even more so for our favourite GTS model. If your budget doesn't stretch to the GTS, the Alpine A110 makes a brilliant alternative to the Boxster and Boxster S if you want a driver's car, as does the Audi TT Roadster if you simply want the pleasure of the open air.
More positively, the Boxster will hold onto its value well, so the costs stack up surprisingly well against rivals such as the F-Type Convertible over the longer term, and the short term if you're buying one on a PCP finance deal.
Servicing, replacement parts and tyres will all cost more than you might expect. And our True MPG tests on the Cayman S (basically a Boxster with a roof, so the results will be similar) revealed an average of just 28.4mpg – the GTS 4.0-litre won't be much worse in the real world despite its bigger capacity. The 2.0-litre Cayman did better, managing a much more palatable 34.4mpg in our True MPG cycle.
Equipment, options and extras
Porsche is notorious for giving away very little standard equipment and this is true of the Boxster. Even the range-topping GTS model goes without the kind of kit you might expect as standard on a car costing such a serious wedge; you'll need to pay extra for cruise control, power-folding door mirrors, heated seats and even climate control.
So what do you get? Well, the standard Boxster comes with an electric roof, electric windows, air-con, 18in alloy wheels, xenon headlights and part-Alcantara seats. The S adds 19in wheels, while the GTS (our pick) comes with discrete styling upgrades, 20in wheels, lowered adaptive suspension, a limited-slip differential, sports exhaust and the Sports Chrono Pack.
In the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey, Porsche faired poorly as a manufacturer, placing 22nd (joint with Audi) in the 31-strong list of manufacturers. That's a long way behind Toyota in second and BMW in ninth, and just behind Jaguar. And the Boxster itself did terribly in the sports cars and convertibles category, finishing in last place.
Every Boxster comes with a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty but, like most cars of this type, it will chew through consumables, such as tyres and brakes, at a rate of knots.
Safety and security
There’s no Euro NCAP crash data available on the Boxster, but all versions come with six airbags and the option of automatic emergency braking (with adaptive cruise control), lane-keeping assistance and speed limit recognition. You'll also have to pay extra to add Isofix fittings to the passenger. Most of its rivals come with some, all, or more of that, as standard.
Security experts Thatcham Research awarded the Boxster a maximum five-star rating for resisting theft and four stars for resisting attempts at being broken into.
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Not particularly. The Porsche 718 Boxster was bottom of the coupés, convertibles and sports cars class for reliability in our latest What Car? Reliability Survey with a score of 73.5%. Owners told us that the problems they had cost a lot to put right and most also took a long time to resolve. As a brand, Porsche didn’t fare much better, coming 25th out of 30 car makers in the 2021 survey, behind Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Read more here
No version of the Porsche 718 Boxster will take longer than 5.1sec to rocket you to 62mph while the quickest Boxster can do the job in just 4.4sec. That’s faster than most versions of the rival Alpine A110 or Audi TT Roadster sports cars. If going fast is at the top of your agenda, we recommend going for the 395bhp Boxster GTS, which is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Read more here
We think the Porsche 718 Boxster GTS is the best version because it has one of the most impressive engines around right now – a 4.0-litre six-cylinder petrol unit that gives it plenty of pace and sounds glorious. The Boxster’s standard kit includes air conditioning and Xenon headlights, and the GTS gets 20in alloy wheels, lowered adaptive suspension and a sports exhaust. There’s an extensive options list so you can add more luxury. Read more here
The Porsche 718 Boxster hasn’t been tested for crash safety by the experts at Euro NCAP. However, no matter which version you choose, you get six airbags as standard, plus the option of automatic emergency braking (AEB) and other features to reduce the effects of any accident – or prevent one in the first place. You can also pay extra to add Isofix child-seat mounting points to the passenger seat. Read more here
Every Porsche 718 Boxster gets a 7.0in infotainment touchscreen, DAB radio, sat-nav and Bluetooth connectivity. If you have an iPhone, you can use its apps on the screen with the standard Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring. We’ve found that the screen reacts quickly when you touch it and the menus have handy shortcuts to functions you’re likely to use a lot. That said, the rotary controller in the rival BMW Z4 is more user-friendly. Read more here
You get two boots in the Porsche 718 Boxster: a small space at the front with space for your shopping or a soft bag, and a larger boot at the back. The rear boot gives you enough space for a couple of carry-on suitcases but is smaller than the luggage space in the rival BMW Z4. Read more here
|RRP price range||£55,420 - £125,660|
|Number of trims (see all)||5|
|Number of engines (see all)||4|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||21.7 - 31.7|
|Available doors options||2|
|Warranty||3 years / No mileage cap|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£3,981 / £9,102|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£7,962 / £18,204|