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.
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.
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.