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Porsche Boxster S 2012 review

EXPERT RATING
8

There's something special about a car that flatters ordinary drivers, then shakes its tail at them - rather than shake them into the scenery - when they near the limit.

Such a car is the Porsche Boxster S; a genuinely sporty two-seater with the bonus of a soft-top for the summer cruising, sans any hint of the dreaded scuttle shake. The Boxsters are the "affordable" Porsches but they don't disappoint for anyone who has grown up salivating over the iconic sports car and can finally afford to put down a deposit.

VALUE

Money talks - fire up the AC/DC song in the 10-speaker Bose sound system and then fire the Boxster at the nearest twisties, or down the nearest boulevard. Both are good, if different reasons. Few cars with the Boxster's open air pose value have a chassis capable handling a tortuous, off-camber corners.

For that reason alone, the Boxster S is worth the $133,800 starting price - and I'd willingly tick the $7K option for the seven-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox.  Ego is one thing, facts are another and very, very few people can shift as quickly as this semi-automatic transmission, or blip the throttle on downshifts to elicit a head-turning pop.

TECHNOLOGY

The new Boxster is bigger, wider and lighter than its predecessor. A mild rework of the 3.4-litre flat six produces incremental gains in power ... but the chassis is now more capable of handling more right foot, more often.  The interior is more 911-esque than before ... and that's a good thing. The PDK semi-auto gearbox is best-in-class and the brakes are eye-bogglingly effective.

DESIGN

The larger footprint makes the Boxster a better-looking car. The fabric roof is well insulated, but this is a sports car, not a wannabe luxury roadster, so there's always some engine and tyre noise. If you're looking for luxury and insulation, buy a Merc SLK or a BMW Z4. The Boxster's top drops in a stripper-esque nine seconds - and the act can be performed at speeds up to 50km/h - which is when the exhaust note from the centrally mounted twin pipes can really be appreciated.

There isn't much to complain about inside, either - once drivers familiarise themselves with where the switches to stiffen up the suspension and engage the engine's Sports Plus mode,  it's all a grin-inducingly intuitive process. The paddle-shifters are mounted into the steering wheel, not behind it, which makes mid-corner shifts just as thoughtless.

SAFETY

Porsche performance is allied with physics-defying brakes - they are frighteningly effective for a passenger not anticipating being suspended in their seat belt. Both front and rear are four-piston set-ups, with 330mm front discs and 299mm rear rings.

They look awesome inside the lightweight 20-inch rims (a $3390 option above the standard 19s) and, together with ABS/EBD/ESC software and a chassis that's tighter than a corporate accountant's purse strings, represent all the safety you need.

The Porsche Active Stability Management takes things to another level - for another $3390. Six airbags will cushion the impact - but not your grief - if things go wrong.

DRIVING

Light weight and an engine with more go than a Red Bull-infused raver are a recipe for licence-losing entertainment. Do yourself a favour and book a track day - it's far and away the smartest way to find out how well this Porsche handles. If you must do it on public roads, pick one with a 100km/h limit and lots of 35km/h or lower advisory signs.

The Boxster S sits flatter than any other two-seater in this price range and hangs on like a freestyling rock climber no matter the speed. The leather-accented interior and chrome highlights inside are irrelevant once the Boxster S is out of town - it's all about the steering wheel that feels like it's caressing the road and the pair of pedals that provide fore and aft momentum. Laugh like the Joker - that flat six will drown it out anyway.

VERDICT

The Boxster S may well have displaced Cayman as the best value-for-money Porsche on the market. If price isn't an issue, it is ultimately not quite as agile or fast as its more expensive siblings but exploring the nuances of those lofty limits isn't possible on Australian roads anyway. That makes the Boxster a Porsche-badged bargain.

Porsche Boxster S

Price: $133,300 (auto adds $5300)
Warrenty: Three years/100,000km
Resale: 69 per cent (three years, Glass's Guide)
Service Interval: 12 months/15,000km
Safety: Six airbags, ABS, ESC, TC
Crash Rating: N/A
Engine: 3.4-litre flat six-cylinder, 232kW/360Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, seven-speed dual-clutch auto; rear-wheel drive
Thirst: 8.8L/100km, 206g/km CO2 (manual); 8.0L/100km, 188g/km CO2 (auto)
Body: 4.37m (L), 1.8m (W), 1.28m (H)
Weight: 1395kg (manual), 1425kg (auto)
Spare: Tyre inflation kit

Pricing guides

$47,735
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$26,500
Highest Price
$68,970

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) 2.7L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $34,200 – 44,220 2012 Porsche Boxster 2012 (base) Pricing and Specs
S 3.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $41,000 – 52,470 2012 Porsche Boxster 2012 S Pricing and Specs
S Black Edition 3.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $40,600 – 51,920 2012 Porsche Boxster 2012 S Black Edition Pricing and Specs
Spyder 3.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $46,700 – 59,070 2012 Porsche Boxster 2012 Spyder Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Pricing Guide

$40,600

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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