Plans for new models were rife at Porsche during the late 1980s and early 1990s, and despite plans for a saloon car, the Boxster came out the other side
10 March 2016

During the late 1980s, Porsche entertained thoughts of building a four-seat saloon, named the 989, but the marketing people began to feel uneasy about the idea midway through 1991.

Even if Porsche could make a saloon that drove and handled like a sports car, a 989 was always going to be a risky strategy, and the more they crunched the numbers, the less the volumes added up. The entire saloon programme was eventually aborted at an estimated cost of at least £100 million.

Instead, Porsche decided on a radical change of direction: back to small ‘low-cost’ sports cars. That set in motion a chain of events that yielded the Boxster, first seen as a concept at the Detroit show in 1993, to much acclaim.

More than three years later, the first all-new Porsche in nearly 20 years reached production. Having followed the Boxster’s development from the early stages, Autocar’s Europe editor Peter Robinson was one of the first journalists to drive it.

He wasn’t disappointed. “We can all stop worrying,” he wrote. The Boxster is all Porsche, all sports car and, quite simply, bloody marvellous. At once, Porsche has given us the most dynamic and exciting of all the new-generation two-seat roadsters.

“This awareness, the knowledge that Porsche’s engineers, free at last to start with a blank sheet of paper, have focused on giving the Boxster true excitement, to create a tactile link between car and driver, lifts it above all the obvious rivals. No Porsche before has so effortlessly, so precisely and intensely engaged the driver, without demanding great skill or sparking doubts about its predictability near the limit.”

Porsche developed a totally new flat six engine for the Boxster. The aluminium 24-valve 2.5-litre dry-sump engine pumped out 204bhp at 6000rpm and 181lb ft at a peaky 4500rpm.

Robinson was impressed by how faithfully the production Boxster had retained the visual impact of the concept. If anything, it improved on it.

“The production Boxster isn’t a disappointing dilution of the beautiful Boxster concept,” he wrote. “It looks longer, flatter, almost symmetrical and somehow more professional than the hurriedly completed concept car.

“Porsche had no intention of building the Boxster as anything but a pure two-seater. The cabin, incredibly roomy and superbly finished, positions the driver’s seat, steering wheel and pedals in perfect alignment, something no other Porsche has achieved.”

Pragmatic Porsches are one thing, but where the Boxster really needed to deliver was on the road. And it did so, brilliantly.

“Each run, faster than the preceding one, increased my admiration for the car,” wrote Robinson. “Yet even as the extent of the Boxster’s remarkable grip and brilliant dynamics became ever more apparent, all this objective evaluation was being eclipsed by the overpowering joy of driving a car utterly dedicated to the creation of driving heroes. Every corner an event, every drive, no matter how short, an affair to savour.

“The Boxster, then, is a proper Porsche, a return to the company’s original philosophy, wrapped in an entirely contemporary design. No other roadster offers the same dazzling blend of performance, handling, ride and refinement.”

Previous Throwback Thursdays

14 December 1895 - America's first car race

28 December 1895 - Early British car exports

4 November 1978 - Fiat 131 Abarth rally car road test

15 March 1986 - Renault builds a Porsche rival

2 April 1986 - Figuring the MG Metro 6R4 rally car

26 April 1986 - Rover's sleek CCV concept

18 October 1989 - VW's vision of a 21st century Golf

10 March 1979 - A Rover SD1 with a difference

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Our Verdict

Porsche Boxster
The Boxster is the cheapest Porsche you can buy

Does bigger mean better for Porsche’s third-generation Boxster?

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Comments
6

10 March 2016
Shame they haven't shown the prices. A well looked after one would last around 20 years meaning the depreciation would be around £1,200(?) a year. I lose more on secondhand bangers.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

10 March 2016
I still remember the morning I bought this issue.. jeez..

10 March 2016
My girlfriend hired one for the weekend for my 30th birthday way back in 1996. 204 HP doesn't sound like much but it seemed fast at the time. I've had a soft spot for one ever since, just never quite had the disposable income to be able to afford a second car (and family duties mean that this couldn't be the only car in the house)

10 March 2016
I remember when the first official photos of this Boxster were revealed and how disappointed I was with the looks of the car, especially after seeing the great looking Boxster concept. Sure, the production Boxster looked as it did because of the need to share components and some bodywork with the all-new (996) 911 to keep development costs down for both models (and to save Porsche) but God it looked ugly! Not even the minor facelift made things much better. And time doesn't seem to have done the first model any favours either. Thankfully the Mk 2 looked spot on, not weighed down by using as much 911 bits and bobs, while the current model simply looks fantastic.

10 March 2016
Agree entirely...almost: the recent 981 facelift that also saw the introduction of the turbo flat four has, IMHO, been a real step backwards. The angular light graphics front and rear are very fussy and at odds with the flowing sinuous lines of the car. The new rear spoiler and badging are horrible, particularly after the beautifully integrated arrangement on the pre-facelift car. Consequently, I've replaced my 987 generation with an F-Type convertible. It may lack some of the Boxter's ultimate handling finesse, but it's a beautiful thing and a hoot to drive. Unfortunately, my partner has forbidden the use of the "hooligan button" active exhaust switch!

10 March 2016
Long live the Boxster and RIP that 718 !

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