The 2012 Porsche Boxster channels the soul of the classic 550 Spyder with modern technology, design and capability. This is the premium sports car that every other vehicle in the class aspires to be.
This two-seat mid-engined convertible is available in four trim levels – Boxster, Boxster S, Boxster S Black Edition and Boxster Spyder. All share the same basic architecture that places the classic Porsche flat-six in the middle of a well-balanced chassis. For 2012, buyers get a new paint color, Ipanema Blue Metallic, as well as an available SportDesign steering wheel.
The 2012 Porsche Boxster (MSRP $48,100) is where it all begins with a stable, solid platform packing a 2.9-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine that generates 255 hp and 214 lb/ft of torque. A six-speed traditional manual transmission is standard, and the quick-witted dual-clutch PDK transmission is also available. Standard wheels are 17 inchers with staggered tire sizes front to rear, and there are more than 10 optional 18- and 19-inch wheels to choose between.
Standard equipment includes an audio system with universal audio interface to work with your devices, and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity. Drivers are presented a trio of gauges, the most prominent of which is a tachometer, in keeping with the sporting lineage and intent of the Boxster. Seats with height adjustment and electric seatback angle controls are bolstered just right and feature Alcantara inserts to keep you put, even when exploiting the high limits of the masterfully tuned Boxster chassis. Porsche Stability Management (PSM) is also standard, and the system squeezes individual brakes ever so slightly to help keep the car on the right path.
The Boxster is a svelte 2,943 pounds with a manual transmission, and still just 3,009 pounds with the quick-witted PDK unit. Without the crushing weight of many modern vehicles to strangle performance, the Boxster clicks off 60 mph in 5.6 seconds with the manual gearbox. Opting for the PDK gearbox drops the count to 5.5 seconds, which sinks again to just 5.3 seconds when the available Sport Chrono Package is added.
The Boxster S employs a larger, 3.4-liter engine with 310 hp and 266 lb/ft of torque thanks in part to direct fuel injection (DFI). Boxster S models run 18-inch wheels with staggered-size Z-rated tires, and behind the alloys, you'll find red-painted brake calipers. Rear brake rotors are also larger to deliver enhanced braking performance to complement the increased accelerative potential of the larger powerplant.
Boxster S models do the zero-to-60 dash in just five seconds with the conventional manual transmission. Opting for the PDK shaves another tenth of a second off that time to a mere 4.9 seconds. Going with the Sport Chrono Package gets you to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds.
The Boxster S Black Edition is a limited-production version of the Boxster S that's available in just one body color: Black. The black bodywork is complemented by a black top, black supplemental safety bars, as well as black side air intakes, 19-inch wheels with a design cribbed from the lightweight Boxster Spyder, and even the tailpipes are black.
Standard on Black Edition Boxster models are BI-XENON headlamps, auto-dimming mirrors, a wind deflector, automatic climate control and a Bose surround sound audio system. Thanks to a 10 hp bump to 320 hp, acceleration times drop over the Boxster S. The zero-to-60 run takes 4.9 seconds if you shift for yourself, 4.8 seconds with the PDK.
The Boxster Spyder, named the “Best Handling Car in the World” by Car and Driver magazine, sports a more intensive use of aluminum and diligent weight trimming to deliver a visceral experience and tip the scales at just 2,811 pounds. The Boxster Spyder is the lightest Porsche you'll find, and that's because non-critical items have been jettisoned. There's no audio system or air conditioning, not even interior door handles (there are release straps instead). Doors are skinned with aluminum, and the standard top is replaced by a two-piece manual top that stows under an aluminum rear decklid with distinctive twin bulges.
While it may sound like there are sacrifices to be made by opting for the Boxster Spyder, it's really the most effective Boxster in terms of increasing your pulse. It mainlines driving pleasure right to your brain's pleasure center, making it the most rapid delivery system for Porsche driving enjoyment, thanks to the purity of the driving experience. There is no Porsche that's lower than the Boxster Spyder, which sports a center of gravity nearly an inch below all other Boxster models. The 320-hp boxer six-cylinder sends its juice through a standard limited-slip differential to minimize wheelspin and better take advantage of the near-200 pound weight loss. There's no doubt the Boxster Spyder can give you acceleration thrills, but the real love story between you and this car begins once you hit some winding blacktop. Car and Driver wasn't lying; the Boxster Spyder delivers handling bliss.
Porsche builds phenomenal cars, and those vehicles serve as starting points for the many available options and features. One of the most effective performance options buyers can select is the Sport Chrono Package, which includes chronometers and reduces acceleration times in all models. The Sound Package Plus gives you a seven-speaker audio system with 185 watts of power, and the Porsche Communication Management system (PCM) is available. PCM serves as a command and control center for audio, navigation and communication with a 6.5-inch touch-screen display. GPS navigation is also available, but when the cars are this good to drive, who doesn't want to get lost?
Porsche has long been the rabbit every other sporty car manufacturer chases, and the 2012 Boxster hasn't slowed its lead in the least. For sports car purity linked to a long history of some of the most revered cars on pavement or racetrack, there's virtually no other choice than Porsche.