Used Porsche Boxster 1996-2004 review

Category: Sports car

The original Porsche Boxster is still sublime to drive, with a sonorous six-cylinder sound and balanced handling

Porsche Boxster Open (96 - 04)
  • Porsche Boxster Open (96 - 04)
  • Porsche Boxster S front driving
  • Porsche Boxster Open (96 - 04)
  • Porsche Boxster S front driving
Used Porsche Boxster 1996-2004 review
Star rating

What's the used Porsche Boxster sports like?

It may be hard to imagine, but there was just one other car in the Porsche range when the Porsche Boxster was first launched back in 1996 – and that was the staple Porsche 911.

Essentially, the Boxster revived the brand. How? Well, although lots of people wanted a 911, only a precious few could afford one. Sure, the Boxster wasn't cheap, but it was next to its larger sibling. And, arguably, you could say that used Boxsters nowadays really are cheap, full stop.


The Porsche Boxster will excite on every trip

  • The drive is sensational and styling timeless
  • Running costs are very high

Engines & Performance: Every Boxster of this first generation came with a six-cylinder petrol engine: the entry-level model bears a 228bhp 2.7-litre unit, while the S variant ups that to a 252bhp 3.2-litre one. Mind you, for a short while (1996-'99), the entry-level car had a 205bhp 2.5-litre engine, plus the standard and S eventually rose in power to 240bhp and 280bhp, respectively.

Nowadays, even that high-powered S will struggle to keep up with a lot of hot hatches, but you'd still be hard pressed to call it slow. Plus, these Boxster engines aren't about rampant, animalistic acceleration, but rather silky smooth, lovely sounding, beautifully linear acceleration.

Ride & Handling: Some cars – like the rear-engined 911, actually – have to work around being disadvantaged from a physics point of view, but not the Boxster. Its engine is positioned right behind the driver, making it mid-engined, and this helps create even weight distribution.

Its six-cylinder engines are flat ones, too: in other words, they aren't very tall, keeping their weight (and subsequently that of the car's) down low for a low centre of gravity, naturally reducing body lean and aiding overall handling. It also lessens the need for stiff suspension.

All of this is brought together and further enhanced by Porsche's excellent engineering expertise to create a wonderful driving experience. The Boxster flows down a country road with great fluidity and corners are met with impressive poise, composure and balance. You really have the confidence to drive the car spiritedly and it's very engaging and satisfying to do so.

Interior & Practicality: The interior may show its age – design-wise, but also in regards to its lack of tech – but build quality is good and most of the materials still feel relatively plush and expensive.

The Boxster is strictly a two-seater, but there's enough room for a couple of six-footers, as well as a front and rear boot for their belongings – another benefit of putting the engine in the middle.

Interested in buying a used Porsche Boxster? Visit our Used Cars For Sale pages to find lots of cars listed at great prices.

Porsche Boxster S front driving

Ownership cost

What used Porsche Boxster sports will I get for my budget?

You can buy a used Porsche Boxster for as little as £5000 and, for that, expect one with around 60,000 miles on the clock. It can vary in model years and variants – generally, Boxster prices are determined by condition/mileage above all else.

The best of the best go for around £20,000, but you can easily find a very good one for £12,000.

Check the value of a used Boxster with What Car? Valuations

Find used Porsche cars for sale

How much does it cost to run a Porsche Boxster sports?

It's a Porsche, so compared to a Ford Focus, it's going to be expensive. However, choose well, keep it properly maintained and it shouldn't be a massive problem. The Boxster has legendary residual values, and although it will cost a lot to start with, you should see the benefit when it's time to sell.

Regular servicing is vital on a Porsche, not only to maintain its value but also to prevent expensive problems later. A Boxster needs attention every 12,000 miles, but if you use an independent specialist on the older cars the work should still be carried out correctly and you'll save money without damaging its resale value.

The 2.5 gives 35mpg, while the 2.7 and 3.2 deliver 29mpg and 27mpg respectively.

Our recommendations

Which used Porsche Boxster sports should I buy?

Originally, there was just a 2.5-litre engine with 204bhp, but this was later enlarged to 2.7 litres and 217bhp. Later, a 3.2-litre with 252bhp was introduced. It was called the S and came with a six-speed gearbox and better brakes, as well a host of goodies for the £4000 over the standard model.

The S is the car people look for, as it has almost 911-style performance for a lot less cash. The optional traction control system is also worth looking out for.

However, the optional Tiptronic gearbox was not as satisfying to use as the manual and slowed the car down. An improved manual gearbox was introduced with the 2.7-litre engine.

Air-con was standard on some models and leather was a £2500 option - both of which are desirable on second-hand cars, and prices are higher as a result.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here


What alternatives should I consider to a used Porsche Boxster sports?