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Used Porsche Boxster review: 1997-2002

1997 Porsche Boxster.

Boxster is arguably the purest Porsche of all. That’s because it uses a mid-mounted engine in the manner of all formula racing machines, as well as many other less-sophisticated racing cars. This layout gives the best balance, highest cornering speeds and greatest driver control.

These are superb cars to punt hard and fast. Their naturally-aspirated engines are wonderfully responsive (more about performance in a moment); the gearbox is a delight to use; road grip is tremendous and the feel through the steering is spot on.

It takes extreme provocation to get the tail to step out of line, when it does start to slide the Boxster remains controllable up to a point. If the tail gets out too far you'll need quick reflexes to correct it. An advanced driving course is recommended because mid-engined cars, though not as bad as rear-engined ones, can be a handful at their limit.

Boxster is strictly a two-seater with a roof that’s one of the simplest in the business. Just look at the way it stows when down to see some very clever thinking.

Boxster’s seats are supportive and comfortable and shoulder room is plentiful, with the two occupants well insulated from buffeting with the roof down. A bonus is that it’s surprisingly practical for a sportscar, with luggage compartments front and rear

1999 Porsche Boxster S. 1999 Porsche Boxster S.

This Porsche has been on sale in Australia since the beginning of 1997, sitting in the showrooms alongside the long-established Porsche 911. It actually shares quite a few of its front-end components with the 911 so there’s a family resemblance. At the rear, it’s quite a different machine to look at.

Interestingly, some 911 owners complained that their machines looked too much like the cheaper Boxsters, so later 911s were facelifted away from the Boxster look.

The Boxster itself received minor upgrades in October 1999, August 2001 and August 2002. The latter are still pretty rare on the used-car market, but expect some to make an appearance relatively soon.

The Boxster was initially criticised for being down on power, mainly due to its smallish 2.5-litre, flat-six engine. That problem was solved in 1999 when a bigger 2.7-litre unit was installed. Even better news was the shoehorning of an optional 3.2-litres engine into the model called the Boxster S. 

Boxster S can power its way from rest to 100km/h in under six seconds and run all the way to 260km/h. A small spoiler pushes out from above the rear bumper at speeds above 120km/h to increase stability.

These engines, even the smallest one, really come alive above 4000rpm, their tone initially hardening, then rising to a wonderfully metallic howl as its goes through 5000rpm. Get the top down whenever you can and hold on to the lower gears just for the sheer pleasure of listening to it.

Powerful ventilated brake discs are installed. If you think going from a standstill to 100km/h in only 5.9 seconds feels sensational, just wait until you experience 100 to zero in only 2.7 seconds! 

2002 Porsche Boxster. 2002 Porsche Boxster.

The Boxster uses either a five-speed manual or, in the Boxster S, a six-speed manual gearbox. A five-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission is offered and permits sequential manual shifting via F1-style thumb-switches on the steering wheel.

Porsche is long established in Australia. Naturally the dealer network isn’t huge, but it’s pretty well organised and we seldom hear complaints about parts or service availability. Prices aren’t cheap, but don’t forget this is a high-performance, purebred, German machine.

Ditto for the insurance ratings, though they aren’t as high as they could be, it seems that most owners are sensible individuals who know how to drive and seldom put their cars into the scenery.

What to look for

It is very important that a Porsche Boxster is well maintained. That doesn’t necessarily mean servicing by an authorised dealer as there are many independent specialists whose staff spent time in factory shops before branching out into their own businesses. Having said that, a Porsche that’s been looked after by an official dealer and which has its service books up-to-date is likely to fetch a higher price as a used car.

The body is well engineered and solidly built and unless poorly repaired after a crash seems as if it will last well.

If you do suspect accident repairs it’s wise to have the body and ‘chassis’ professionally inspected. Rust is a no-no and almost certainly means the car has been badly repaired.

Heavy operation of the clutch is likely to mean it’s due for an overhaul, not a complex job, but there are no cheap repairs on a Porsche.

Be sure the brakes pull the car up cleanly without one wheel locking ahead of the others.

How much

Expect to pay from $64,000 to $71,000 for a 1997 2.5-litre Boxster; $73,000 to $83,000 for a 1999 2.5-litre; $79,000 to $91,000 for a 2000 2.7-litre; $91,000 to $104,000 for a 2002 2.7-litre; and $104,000 to $117,000 for a 2001 Boxster S.

Car buying tip

When buying any sports car it pays to shy well clear of one that has spent any time at a racetrack. Look for additional in-cabin items such as a roll cage, racing seats, fire extinguishers and so on


Year Price From Price To
2002 $13,200 $24,750
2001 $13,000 $24,750
2000 $13,000 $23,870
1999 $12,500 $23,870
1998 $12,500 $20,570
1997 $11,800 $20,570

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(base) 2.5L, PULP, 5 SP $14,600 – 20,570 1997 Porsche Boxster 1997 (base) Pricing and Specs

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