2010 Boxster New Car Test Drive
The Porsche Boxster is a delightful sports car equally at ease being pushed to its limits or sauntering through traffic jams. The engine note is invigorating, the handling crisp, the ride elastic, the brakes sublime and the interior ideal for driving. But it is how all this works in harmony that makes the Boxster such an entertaining car.
The Boxster is perhaps the most practical mid-engine convertible sports car available today. The cabin has plenty of room and can accommodate tall individuals. The standard Boxster's levels of insulation, refinement and equipment match many sedans. There are two compact trunks, one up front and another in back, to carry a week's worth of groceries or luggage in soft-sided bags.
The Boxster lineup is so well-rounded it could come up on many shopping lists. Convertible luxury with a driver bias might pit the 2010 Boxster or Boxster S against a BMW Z4, Audi TT, or Mercedes-Benz SLK, while the performance shopper may also have a Lotus Elise or Exige on the list.
For the sports car purist, Porsche has introduced the performance-oriented Boxster Spyder as an early 2011 model. The Boxster Spyder features a manual soft-top, the 320-horsepower engine from the Cayman S and several changes to reduce weight by a total of 176 pounds. As a performance model, the Spyder gets a firmer suspension. We found the Spyder's top doesn't seal very well and it lacks the refinement and isolation of the others, but it makes up for that with even better handling and a more engaging driving experience than what's found in the Boxster S.
The Boxster uses a 2.9-liter flat-six with 255 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque. It comes with a choice of six-speed manual transmission or seven-speed automated manual double-clutch gearbox (PDK, or Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe).
The Boxster S increases performance with a 3.4-liter flat-six rated at 310 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque with six-speed manual or seven-speed PDK. Standard wheels are 8 and 9x18 alloys with P235/40ZR and P265/40ZR tires. The S can be distinguished by its red brake calipers, dual exhaust outlets, and light gray instrument backgrounds.
Virtually no one buys a Boxster for the base price, and the many options can drive the price up considerably. Great fun, though. One option we recommend is the PASM active suspension.
Porsche does not make major changes very often, preferring to get the basics right from the start and continue fine tuning from there on. The Boxster benefitted from some heavy revisions for the 2009 model year, including new engines and a new transmission, so the 2010 model year features only minor changes. Inside, the Porsche Communications Management system gets a larger (6.5-inch) touchscreen and a simplified control layout. It is also now compatible with mp3 players and offers Bluetooth cell phone connectivity. The steering wheel is now a three-spoke unit, and the sound system is now Porsche's CDR-30 unit with a CD/mp3 player. Underneath, Porsche says the 2010 Boxster's suspension has been refined to improve ride comfort and dynamic response. As part of this change, the car uses new tires and tire pressure in the rear tires is slightly reduced. Finally, the 2010 Boxster is now offered with a heated steering wheel and a new Dark Blue Metallic color.
The 2010 Porsche Boxster comes in Boxster and Boxster S models with options sufficient to make each car different. Custom paint and upholstery notwithstanding there are 18 factory paint choices, five convertible top colors, nine wheel styles, 10 upholstery color schemes and five seat types.
The Boxster ($47,600) uses a 255-hp 2.9-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder and six-speed manual transmission. A seven-speed automated manual double-clutch gearbox (PDK, or Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe) is available ($3,420).
Standard features include power-reclining Alcantara-insert bucket seats, air conditioning, power top with heated glass rear window, power windows/locks/heated mirrors, remote keyless entry, interior air filter, AM/FM/CD stereo, cruise control, trip computer, leather-wrapped tilt/telescoping steering wheel, leather-wrapped shifter, anti-theft immobilizer, universal garage door opener, automatic-off headlights, front and rear fog lights, active rear spoiler, and 17x7 front and 17x8.5-inch rear alloy wheels with P205/55ZR17 front and P235/50ZR17 rear tires.
Porsche option lists are extensive. Factory paint options range from $710 to $3,150 (paint to sample $4,315); wheels ($1,815) may be painted and equipped with Porsche crest centers; seat choices (up to $3,350) include sport seats, power adjustable, carbon-fiber race-style, heating ($500) and ventilation ($800); and there are multiple choices in steering wheels and full leather upholstery (to $3,935).
Other options include bi-xenon headlamps with cornering lights ($1,560); self-dimming mirror and rain-sensor ($690); park assist ($530); hard top ($2,345); windstop ($375); various painted and aluminum trim exterior upgrades; PASM active suspension management ($1,990); limited-slip differential ($950); Sport Chrono packages that allow for timing segments and making adjustments to car systems ($960-$1,320, plus $690 painted dial); sport exhaust ($2,500); sport tailpipe ($650); sport shifter ($765); automatic climate control ($550); heated steering wheel ($210); interior paint and seatbelt trims (to $1,580), Makassar wood, carbon fiber and Alcantara interior trim packages (to $2,150); painted instrument dials ($690); Porsche Communication Management with navigation ($3,110); Bluetooth ($695); Bose sound system ($990); auxiliary input jack and USB port ($95 or $440 with PCM); 6CD/DVD changer ($650) and XM radio ($750). A SportDesign Package ($4990) consists of a new front apron, an additional spoiler lip, and a new automatically extending rear spoiler; Porsche notes that this package substantially reduces entry angle to gradients. There is a lot of interplay among options availability and pricing so careful consideration must be applied when ordering your own car.
The Boxster S ($58,000) gets a 310-hp 3.4-liter H6 engine and six-speed manual or seven-speed PDK. Standard wheels are 8 and 9x18 alloys with P235/40ZR and P265/40ZR tires. The S also gets the Sound Package Plus as standard. Boxster S options are the same as the standard Boxster with one exception: Ceramic composite brakes ($8,150) with drilled, vented discs and yellow-painted calipers are offered on the S.
The Boxster Spyder ($61,200) is a lightweight performance model with a manual soft top. In addition to Boxster S equipment, it features carbon-fiber sport bucket seats, bi-xenon headlights, locking rear differential, and lightweight 19-inch wheels that carry P235/35ZR front and P265/35ZR rear tires. What's not there is almost as important as what is. In the name of weight savings, the radio, air conditioning, and cupholders have been deleted and the door pulls are nylon instead of aluminum.
The Boxster Spyder can be optioned like a Boxster S. The radio, cupholders, and power sport seats are all no-cost options, and automatic climate control costs $1,760. For about $3000, buyers can save another 22 pounds by opting for a lithium-ion battery. The ceramic composite brakes are available as well.
Safety features on all models include front airbags, head-and-thorax side airbags, and roll bars behind the seats. Electronic stability control (PSM), antilock brakes (ABS), brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution (ABD), tire-pressure monitor, traction control (ASR) and LED daytime running lights are also standard.