2009 Boxster New Car Test Drive
The Porsche Boxster is a delightful sports car that is 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.
Porsche does not make major changes very often, preferring to get the basics right from the start and continue fine tuning from there on. So the 2009 Boxster that is heavily revised is still instantly recognizable as a Boxster. Length and track have changed by fractions of an inch and the basic shape and size remain.
The major upgrade for 2009 is completely revised powertrains, with new engines giving the Boxster and Boxster S their biggest power increases yet and improved efficiency. A six-speed manual replaces a five-speed as standard on the Boxster, and both plain and S versions may be offered with a new seven-speed double-clutch gearbox (PDK) that is Porsche's most advanced transmission.
Boxster is perhaps the most practical mid-engine convertible sports car available. The cabin has plenty of room and can accommodate tall individuals, and insulation, refinement and equipment match many sedans. There are two compact trunks to carry a week's worth of groceries or luggage in soft-sided bags, and they won't get singed on a sporting road.
The Boxster is so well-rounded it could come up on many shopping lists. Convertible luxury with a driver bias might pit it against a BMW Z4, Audi TTS, or Mercedes-Benz SLK, while the performance shopper may also have a Lotus Elise or Exige, Honda S2000, or maybe even a Mazda RX8 on the list.
Virtually no one buys a Boxster for base price, and the many options can drive the price up, but we'd certainly recommend the PASM active suspension.
Boxster comes in two models with options sufficient to make each car different. Custom paint and upholstery notwithstanding there are 17 factory paint choices, five convertible top colors, nine wheel styles, 10 upholstery color schemes and five seat types.
The base Boxster ($46,600) uses a 255-hp 2.9-liter flat six with 214 lb-ft of torque and six-speed manual transmission replacing the previous five-speed. A seven-speed automated manual double-clutch gearbox (PDK, or Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe) is available ($3,420). 17x7 front and 17x8.5-inch rear alloy wheels are standard.
Boxster standards include Alcantara-insert bucket seats, manual climate control, power top with heated glass rear window, power windows/locks/heated mirrors, AM/FM/CD stereo, cruise control, trip computer, leather-wrapped wheel and shifter, anti-theft immobilizer, and active rear spoiler.
Porsche option lists are extensive. Factory paint options range to $3,140 (paint to sample $4,315); wheels (to $3,675) may be painted and equipped with Porsche crest centers; seat choices (up to $5,080) include sport seats, power adjustable, carbon-fiber race-style, heating ($500) and ventilation ($800); and there are multiple choices in steering wheels and leather upholstery (to $1,510, or to sample for $1,750).
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 $500 painted dial); sport exhaust ($2,500); sport shifter ($765); automatic climate control ($550); heated steering wheel ($180); interior paint and seatbelt trims (to $1,580); leather upgrades (to $2,225); aluminum, 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); sound system inputs and upgrades (to $1,690); 6CD/DVD changer ($650) and XM radio ($750).
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 ($56,700) adds performance with a 310-hp, 266 lb-ft 3.4-liter engine and six-speed manual or seven-speed PDK ($3,420) optional. Standard wheels are 8 and 9x18 alloys, and the S can be distinguished by its red brake calipers, dual exhaust outlets, and light gray instrument backgrounds. The S gets the Sound Package Plus and HomeLink standard, and wheel choices are cut to seven since they're larger.
Boxster S options are otherwise the same as the standard Boxster with one exception: Ceramic composite brakes ($8,150) with drilled, vented discs and yellow-painted calipers are offered only on the S.
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), electronic brake-force distribution (ABD), tire pressure monitors, traction control (ASR) and LED daytime running lights are standard on all Boxsters.