For 2011, the Boxster Spyder was introduced. For this specialized lightweight model, Porsche removed the sound system and air-conditioning (you could add them back as options) as well as the power-operated top. The latter was replaced by a manually operated two-piece soft top that was more tarp than roof, and about as easy to erect as a tent. But what the Spyder lost in creature comforts it gained in other areas, notably 10 hp and even sharper handling.
While the later Boxsters of this generation are obviously a little more appealing, there’s really not a bad apple in the basket. Regardless of engine or equipment level, we’d happily take one on a spirited back road run, or utilize its practical double trunks on a weekend getaway up the coast. Its cost has been one of our few complaints, but that’s obviously somewhat mitigated in the used market.
The original Boxster debuted for the 1997 model year. At the time, it was considered to be a key release for the brand. Porsche had been struggling financially through the early and mid-1990s, and the Boxster’s simplicity, retro styling and affordability made it a huge hit.
The first-generation Porsche Boxster came with a power-operated soft top and a 201-hp, 2.5-liter flat-6 engine. In 2000, the big news was the addition of a second, even sportier S model. The Boxster S featured 250 hp, larger wheels and brakes and a more stiffly tuned suspension. For 2001, the tweaks mostly involved interior refinements in layout and materials quality. But underneath, the sophisticated Porsche Stability Management system was made available for both models. For 2004, Porsche increased the power output of both engines slightly.
Originally, the base Boxster 2.7-liter six-cylinder produced 228 hp, and the Boxster S model’s bigger flat-6 displaced 3.2 liters with an output of 258 horses. Transmission choices were a five-speed manual (base), a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic. For 2007, the 2.7-liter was upgraded to pump out 245 hp and the Boxster S gained a 3.4-liter engine with 295 hp. There were a few minor equipment upgrades made during this time period as well.
With the ’09 update, both engines were upgraded once again. The base model now featured a 2.9-liter flat-6 good for 255 hp, while the Boxster S got a 3.4-liter flat-6 good for 310 hp. Both now got the six-speed manual, while PDK debuted on the Boxster’s options list. Prior to this 2009 refresh, the optional navigation system was an older design, with a smaller screen and poorly designed controls. Items like ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, an iPod interface and satellite radio were also not available. The exterior styling was also somewhat different.