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Used Porsche Boxster review: 1999-2005

By all measures the Porsche Boxster was a brilliant car. It was fast, handled superbly, yet was still comfortable and refined, but that wasn’t enough for die-hard Porsche enthusiasts who panned it for being insipid and plastic.

Stung by the criticism Porsche swung into action and soon produced the Boxster S, an evolution of the original mid-engined Boxster that had the sort of edge Porsche fans were longing for.

MODEL WATCH

Given its current success it’s amazing to think that Porsche was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy 20 years ago.

Then, it was a one-dimensional car company producing an expensive high-end sports model that was going nowhere. Company bosses knew it had to expand or it would die, but how to achieve that expansion without losing the very character that made a Porsche the great and classic car that the 911 is wasn’t clear.

The company’s first attempt to expand its model range, with some credible front-engined sports cars, proved a disaster. There was nothing wrong with the cars, it was simply that Porsche enthusiasts refused to accept them as real Porsches and wouldn’t buy them.

The Boxster was the second attempt. This time the new car line was much more Porsche-like and was a rip-roaring success with everyone but the die-hards.

While it looked like a scaled down 911, and shared a number of body panels, the Boxster was very different to the iconic 911.

It was mid-engined instead of rear engined, and its engine was water-cooled rather than relying on air to keep it cool.

The key was that it didn’t go too far from the Porsche formula. Its looks were in keeping with Porsche tradition and anyone who got behind the wheel found a car that had all the performance you could wish for in the real world, handled like it was on the proverbial rails, and drove sweetly when put to the task in traffic.

It was the perfect compromise for anyone who wanted a sports car, but not necessarily one that would induce a nosebleed simply by looking at it.

The S came in 1999 and was an attempt to inject a little more excitement into the Boxster for the Porsche die-hards who reckoned the Boxster was perfect for their wives to drive, but wouldn’t dare being seen in one themselves.

Put simply, the S accelerated faster, had a higher top speed, and more dynamic handling, better stopping power, and better active and passive safety than the regular Boxster.

Its six-cylinder engine was 3.2 litres and put out 185 kW at 6250 revs and 305 Nm from 4500 revs.

With the right foot buried in the carpet it would accelerate to 100 km/h in less than six seconds and reach 260 km/h if pushed.

Behind the larger engine lay a six-speed manual gearbox, or if optioned up, Porsche’s sporty Tiptronic auto.

To keep up with the new performance the Boxster S had firmer springs and shocks, distinctive 17-inch alloy wheels, and large disc brakes on all corners.

IN THE SHOP

Little generally goes wrong with Porsches; they are remarkably robust and resilient. Stories abound about Porsches with very high miles and still going strong.

At the same time there are many that do few kays. They’re held in reserve for that special day out when the roads are dry and the sun is shining, but they will survive very well if driven daily.

Have your chosen car checked over by a Porsche specialist to make sure all is well just the same.

It would pay to find someone well qualified to service your car and get on friendly terms with them. That way you will save money of servicing costs.

Aware that its parts prices were high Porsche made a conscious effort to contain them with the Boxster and you find that things like headlights, guards and door panels aren’t as expensive as you might think.

IN A CRASH

A stiff, strong body, underpinned by an agile chassis means the Boxster has good crash protection.

Nimble, responsive handling means it can get out of danger if driven capably, its big powerful brakes will get it stopped when threatened, and the body structure will stand up when all is lost.

If it happens to roll over the A-pillars are designed to stand up and give it the same level of overhead protection as a coupe.

Add to that the passive protection of dual front and side airbags and the Boxster’s crash protection is good.

AT THE PUMP

Drive it hard and the fuel consumption will increase, but driven normally the Boxster is quite frugal for a sports car.

Porsche claimed the Boxster S would do around 10.5 L/100 km on average in manual form, the auto a litre more.

LOOK FOR 
• Badge cred
• Superb handling
• Exhilarating performance
• Robust and reliable
• Comfortable and refined
• Tractable in traffic

THE BOTTOM LINE 
Not a cheap buy, but good value for money, and there are few better sports cars if you can scrape up the cash.

RATING 
85/100

Pricing

Year Price From Price To
2005 $13,200 $30,250
2004 $13,200 $30,250
2003 $13,200 $24,640
2002 $13,200 $24,750
2001 $13,000 $24,750
2000 $13,000 $23,870
1999 $12,500 $23,870

View all Porsche Boxster pricing and specifications

Pricing guides

$18,185
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$12,500
Highest Price
$23,870

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) 2.5L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $12,500 – 18,150 1999 Porsche Boxster 1999 (base) Pricing and Specs
S 3.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $16,300 – 22,660 1999 Porsche Boxster 1999 S Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist

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