In January 2005, Porsche's lower-priced mid-engine sports car will emerge in redesigned form. Both the regular Boxster and the higher-performance Boxster S get major styling revisions, handling enhancements and more powerful engines. Safety features have been improved, and the Boxster is the first roadster with head-protection airbags. Porsche calls this the first major makeover since the Boxster debuted as a 1997 model.
The engines are unchanged in size but deliver significant power boosts. The regular Boxster's 2.7-liter flat six-cylinder jumps from 225 to 240 horsepower. The 3.2-liter engine in the Boxster S is the most powerful engine ever offered in the model line; it generates 280 hp, which boosts output by 22 hp over the previous model's engine. The Boxster can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds versus 5.2 seconds for the Boxster S, according to Porsche.
Variable-ratio power steering is new. The wheels and tires are larger, and the Boxster's track has increased. By eliminating the spare tire, cargo space has grown slightly.
Porsche claims the Boxster is the first roadster to have dedicated head-protection airbags. The head airbags deploy from the side-window rails. The Porsche Stability Management electronic stability system is now standard.
Rivals of the Boxster include the Audi TT, BMW Z4, Honda S2000 and Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class.
The Boxster's front and side air intakes have been enlarged. The headlights and taillamps are new and the side windows are bigger.
Alloy wheels on the Boxster S hold 18-inch tires, while the base model uses standard 17-inch wheels. Nineteen-inch wheels are optional. The Boxster S has a firmer, sport suspension.
Two occupants enjoy leather-upholstered body-hugging bucket seats. The driver faces a trio of gauges in a hooded cluster. Seat heaters, sport seats, Bose surround sound, Park Assist and a navigation system are available. Cargo compartments at both ends offer a total of 9.9 cubic feet of space versus 9.1 cubic feet in the prior model.
Under the Hood
The base Boxster holds a 2.7-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder that develops 240 hp. It's mounted behind the seats but ahead of the rear axle. A five-speed-manual transmission is standard (a six-speed manual is available).
The Boxster S has a 3.2-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder that makes 280 hp and works with a standard six-speed-manual gearbox. Either engine can use Porsche's Tiptronic S five-speed-automatic transmission, which incorporates steering-wheel buttons for manual gear selection. An electronic readout takes the place of the oil dipstick.
All-disc antilock brakes, side-impact airbags and head-protection airbags are standard.
Few automobiles offer as much all-around driving enjoyment as the Boxster, and the 2005 model raises that bar even higher. With quick, precise control and racetrack-quality moves, the Boxster is eager to dash ahead and keeps its tires planted firmly on the pavement.
The previous-generation Boxsters weren't the quickest sports car around, but the 2005 models are substantially swifter. Significant pavement imperfections can result in a rough ride in the Boxster S. This car is surefooted and positive; it follows your commands with precision.
But the base model may be more appealing. It's less raucous and delivers a satisfying ride without losing much of the enjoyment. The base model's five-speed manual shifts a little easier than the Boxster S's six-speed manual, but both clutches behave admirably. The Tiptronic S automatic transmission operates with excellence, though purists may prefer a manual shift.
Limited cargo space has been a drawback, but the new version has a bit more room. Top-up visibility is troublesome. The seats are snug but surprisingly comfortable.