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Now, I don't actually own a Boxster. I understand that this probably isn't the best way to start a review of the car, but I feel it's an important disclaimer. I've driven one in what can only be considered a road-test situation, and as such, my knowledge of on-the-road costs and long-term problems is limited. What I can tell you is how it drives, what it feels like to sit behind the wheel, and my experience of driving one.
The Boxster has been with us for eight years now, and Porsche has just brought out an updated model - 80% new, apparently, but you'd never know it from the outside. Many Porsche purists regard it as the poor man's Porsche, and in many respects, it is. With a price tag of around £30k new, and as one of the ultimate bargain roadsters second-hand (good quality, late-90s models can be bought for less than £18k), it hardly stacks up against any of the 911s in terms of price. The interior isn't quite as finely finished, much of the production is outsourced to Finland, the engine is impressive enough but doesn't exactly leave you breathless...the small differences that nevertheless add up to something that's not quite got the feel of a 911.
But once you've stepped into the car, made yourself comfortable in the low, hugging seats, put your favourite CD into the 5-disc autochanger (located on the dash, not in the boot!) and slid on your coolest-looking sunglasses, you wont care that your car costs less than half what a base 911 would set you back. Driving through the Alps with my father, we kept up with a 911 Turbo (RRP£90k) without even trying, and whilst in the hands of a more capable driver, the Turbo would probably have the edge simply in terms of sheer speed, the Boxster would beat it around the corners.
And this is it's real selling point. Porsche developed a perfectly weighted, rigid chassis with the most direct steering you'll come across. You can feel the car through your hands, through your bum, through your legs, every part of your body feels like it's at one with the car to the point that sliding the tail out round a hairpin bend becomes more fun than scary. But after so spectularly turning the corner, the coupe shows its limitations - 230 horses doesn't pull 1200kg up a hill with the same earsplitting whine you get on the flats, the acceleration becomes weak and you think to yourself, "I bet the Boxster S would do better than this".
Well, yes, it would. In fact, the S is undoubtedly the better buy if you can afford it, with more horsepower, better residual values and two centre-mounted tail pipes, rather than Boxster's single pipe, which makes it look more like something that deposits waste than the designers perhaps meant to.
There's one other issue with Boxsters: As a fantastic car with a Porsche badge, offering great value for money with next to no room for kids, every single middle-aged wannabe metrosexual has one. My father included. So if you think you're gonna be cool for owning a Boxster, think again. If you don't care about that, and just want to have fun in a great, affordable car, go seek one out. But be warned: The hard ride and rigid chassis may start to get on your nerves if you use it as an everyday car, and as a convertible, it's not the most sensible car for the UK.
Good car, great value for money. Just be careful of the image.