New Car Review of the 2005 Porsche Boxster and Boxter S Sports Car
Base MSRP Range: $43,800-53,100
Base Invoice Range: Not Available
MSRP As Tested: Not Available
Versions: Boxster, Boxster S
Vehicle Category: Compact Sport Coupe and Convertible.
Engine Location: Mid Engine
Drive Wheels: Rear-Wheel Drive.
Fuel Economy (city/hwy): Manual 20/28, automatic 18/26.
Standard Safety Features: Dual-level driver and passenger airbags, seat mounted side air bags, head airbags. ">Antilock Brake System, electronic brake force distribution
Competition: Honda S 2000, Nissan 350Z, Audi TT, Infiniti G35 Coupe, BMW Z4, Chevrolet Corvette.
The Porsche Boxster has, since its inception in 1993, been a work-of-art worthy of a permanent display at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York. It has design features that are as classic to Porsche couture as those of the 911. The 550 Spyder and RS60 race car influenced Boxster's design giving it the timeless styling excellence that first, and foremost, makes Porsche products among our favorites. Being able to climb into that work-of-art and experience it in motion is the close second.
Boxster remains Porsche's entry-level product, even though the price has gone up over the years. And it still represents the best-value among affordable European roadsters such as the Mercedes SLK, and BMW Z4.
Eighty percent of the second generation Boxster is all new. It remains distinct from the Carrera - it has a different face. It is wider than its predecessor, to better accommodate taller and larger American drivers. The interior is all new, though it has keep some of the original design cues. It has moved up scale with better quality materials. Power too has been increased in both the Boxster, and Boxster S. All in all we'd have to agree with Porsche that the second generation design is more "evolutionary, than revolutionary."
For those who are unaware, Boxster gets its name by combining the term "roadster" with the name of the flat engine design Porsche uses called Boxer. Hence "Boxster."
At first glance the new Boxster looks similar to the previous mode - it retains the classic lines of the original concept car. Upon closer inspection the many changes become obvious. The headlamps are smaller. The fog lamps have been moved down into the air intakes, both of which are larger. The front opening is larger, feeding more air into the radiator for better cooling. It also gives the vehicle a more aggressive look.
The side windows are larger for better visibility For the first time, Boxster comes with a glass rear window. Gone are the days of plastic yellowed by bright sunlight. The side air intakes are also larger. Their ornamentation makes them look like they came off of the MR2 Spyder - they are a bit gaudy. The rear bumper of the 2005 Boxster is higher. The taillights have a similar look to the fabulous Carrera GT Supercar.
The exterior changes are not earth shattering. And this is fine as it helps Boxster's different generations to be recognizable, not confused for other Porsche models. It also sets the tempo for future, updates that will prevent all Boxsters from becoming dated.
The interior of the Boxster is completely new for 2005. A lot of attention has been placed on increasing interior luxury by applying higher quality materials. Porsche understands that most Boxster owners use the car for daily transportation, unlike many 911 owners who have multiple vehicles. They are likely to have another, more plush car, for day to day commutes. Boxster drivers live in their cars and thus needed more interior amenities.
Interior space has been increased to accommodate drivers who are taller, and wider. This is critical in America, much more so than in Porsche’s other markets. And, for the same reason, the rollover bar, behind the head rest, is taller.
The dashboard is also all-new, though it retains a few of the Boxster's original design cues like the three, overlapping rings that comprise the instrument cluster. The center stack starts with the HVAC vents (heat and air) on top. Below it are three rows of system controls. The first row has the controls for the entertainment system. Next are the climate control functions. The bottom contains the sport functions like Porsche's Stability Management System.
The seats have been mounted as low as possible in the car. This provides two benefits. The first lowers the car's center of gravity improving, the already fantastic, handling. The second is that it increases headroom for taller drivers.
All seating surfaces are leather, and full leather interior is standard on the Boxter S. Porsche offers Boxster owners four, seat options. The standard version has six-way, power adjustments for the seat and back positions. The second choice is a fully-powered, adjustable seat. The remaining options are sport seats. One is based on the standard seat but has larger bolsters to hold you in place. The other is an adaptive sport seat which is standard on the Boxster S. The various seats are comfortable for commutes, but if you plan to do spirited driving on twisty mountain roads, the seats with large side bolsters are essential.
There are three steering wheel options for the 2005 Boxster. The standard steering wheel has three spokes. There is a Fittipaldi-style sport wheel that has a smaller smaller radius. For those who opt for the Porsche Communication Management System, it comes with a multi-function, steering wheel that has controls to operate audio, navigation and telephone functions.
Boxster's roof is a fully-automatic, seven-section, collapsing soft top. The roof is remarkably quiet when it opens and closes. It can be opened, or closed, while the car is in motion as long as the speed is below 31 miles per hour. You no longer need to bring the vehicle to a full stop in order to close the roof when it starts to rain.
The 2005 Boxtser continues to use the same flat, six-cylinder, Boxer engine design as both the previous Boxster, and the 911. Horsepower has been increased 240, from 225, using the same 2.7 liter engine used in the first generation car. The Boxtser S gains 22 horsepower, for a total of 280, from the same 3.2-liter engine used in the past. Torque figures are 199 lb-ft for the Boxster, and 236 lb-ft for the S. Improved airflow is the primary reason for the power gains.
The Boxster comes standard with an improved five-speed, manual transmission. The Boxster S comes from the factory with a new standard six-speed manual, which is an option on the Boxster. Shifter travel has been reduced by 26 percent, giving Boxster a very short throw (the distance the shifter must travel between gears) making for very quick shifts. Reinforced syncromesh on the Boxster, and triple syncromesh on the S, has been applied between first and second gears. This makes low speed shifting easier, which is essential for those who drive in stop and go traffic when commuting. If you plan to use the Boxster as your daily ride, both transmissions are very smooth, and easy to live with.
The five-speed, Triptronic automatic transmission with manual shift mode has been improved as well. It is available on both the Boxster and the S. Although better than before, we continue to recommend the manual. It provides the best driving experience, now that low-speed, gear shifts are so easy. Porsche's are just best with manual transmissions. And we maintain the belief that true sports cars must have manual transmissions!
We would like to see Porsche offer a third transmission option, as do BMW and Audi. BMW offers a superb sequential gearbox with paddle shifters on the steering -- like a Formula One car - called a Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG.) Audi offers the fabulous Direct Sequential Gearbox (DSG) which is the best of these new transmissions. Frankly, these new transmissions are so much fun, and give the driver so much control, that they should be offered on every performance car with a manual transmission.
Porsche is one of the best engine manufacturers in the world. he engines deliver power smoothly and quickly. Their engines have a distinctive sound, in the same way a Harley Davidson motorcycle does. The improvements to the air intake and exhaust systems have given the engines an even deeper and more throaty sound. Perhaps Porsche too should consider seeking a patent for that sound, the way Harley has.
Ride and Handling
Only the mid-engine Boxster and Boxster S handle better than the Porsche 911. Mid-engine cars have most of the weight located between the centerline of the front and rear wheels, so that the vehicle has perfect weight distribution. However perfect weight distribution isn’t the only factor that makes for a great handling car.
The 2005 Boxster features an all new steering system. Race car steering wheels need be turned only one, full turn in order to move the wheels as far as they will go in either direction. This is also known as "one turn lock to lock." Most passenger sedans require over three turns. Porsche reduced the Boxster’s from 2.9, to 2.6. Combining the smaller radius sport steering wheel with the new steering system, a wider track and larger tires for better road grip gets Boxster very close to having race car quality steering response.
The chassis has been stiffened to make handling more precise. Handling is traditionally a problem for open-top cars because they loose rigidity without the structure that supports the roof. To increase rigidity Boxster added a complete underbody that better channels the under-car airflow. This dramatically reduces lifting forces making the car more stable. This is how most modern race cars are structured, except for those in NASCAR.
Boxster is now available with the Porsche Active Suspension Management system (PASM) first introduced on the 2005 911 Carrera. The systyem provides two suspensions settings. One is for normal driving conditions providing a more comfortable ride. The other is a very dynamic setting used for performance-driving situations.
By pressing a button on the center console, the driver switches from PASM “Normal” to PASM “Sport.” The PASM suspension lowers the car 0.39 inches (10 mm) from the standard suspension setting. In the sport setting, PASM activates a firmer, damper-control map providing extreme agility and dynamic control minimizing body roll.
This is the best handling Porsche we have ever driven. The car responds to steering inputs just as you would expect. This make the handling very predictable. The car is incredibly stable, even at 100 miles per hour, and is not easily upset by uneven road surfaces. All of this gives the driver confidence. And the driver is the most important active safety device in any car.
Some of the features making the 2005 Porsche Boxster such a great handling car also contribute to it being among the safetest sports cars on the road. The stiffer body structure that helps to make the handling so precise, has the added benefit of increasing the car's crashworthiness. Larger, cross-drilled, ventilated brakes stay cool preventing brake fade thus increasing stopping power.
Boxster is equipped with six airbags that surround the driver and passengers in a protective cocoon. In addition to the standard driver and passenger front airbags there are seat-integrated, side airbags - a first in the roadster segment. The 2005 Boxster also comes with head protection airbags that pop-up out of the top of the doors.
The rollover bar that is behind the occupants is now is nearly an inch taller, and it has been moved 1.22 inches backward providing protection for taller drivers.
Perhaps the best safety feature of the 2005 Boxster and Boxster S is the performance of the car itself. It has the power to accelerate quickly out of danger, which, more often than not, is the best course of action in a bad situation.
The second generation 2005 Boxster is a substantial improvement over the first in every aspect. It is faster, more comfortable, safer, and most of all, a better value. The 2005 Boxster starts at $43,800 US, $1,200 more than the old car. The Boxster S, with more power and a standard six-speed, manual transmission, larger wheels, and more features is priced from $53,100 US. That is $1,500 more than the old S. With all the improvements and added content these cars are a real deal. The Boxster and Boxster S are great sports cars that you can live with every day.
Pros: Great performance and handling, greatly improved materials and finish, much more comfortable for larger American drivers.
Cons: Improved Tiptronic automatic still not up to BMW’s SMG or Audi’s DSG transmissions.
- Style: 9
- Performance: 9
- Price: 9
- Handling: 9
- Ride: 9
- Comfort: 8
- Quality: 8
- Overall: 8.7
Where Built: Germany, Finland
Major Options: 5-speed Triptronic automatic transmission, sport package, Bose sound system, full leather upholstery, adaptive sports seats, Removable hardtop.
Number of Rows: 1
Length in Inches: 171.6.
Warranties: 4 years/50,000 miles bumper to bumper, 10 years/unlimited-miles corrosion protection, 4 years/50,000 miles roadside assistance.
Weight in Pounds: Boxster 2,855, Boxster 2,965.
Cargo Capacity in Pounds: not available.
Gross Maximum Vehicle Weight in Pounds: 3,549.
Towing Capacity in Pounds: not available.
Gas Tank Capacity in Gallons: 16.9.
Destination Charge: $795