This is another one of those years for Porsche and its devotees. Just as we’re getting used to telling 991-generation 911s from their predecessors, there’s another new sports car to spot: the 981 Boxster.
The timing is no coincidence. Ever since the strategic revolution that transformed the company’s corporate fortunes in the mid-1990s, Porsche has understood the importance of component sharing. The original 986 Boxster was the first Porsche to prove the value of that concept, sharing much with the 996-generation 911 of 1998. The car proved a commercial smash hit, and ever since it has maintained an intimate relationship with the 911 while making a hefty contribution to Porsche’s bottom line.
Mixing almost perfectly resolved handling with serious performance and appealing value, the Boxster’s status as a fully fledged, envy-of-the-class Porsche sports car now seems indisputable. But Porsche has changed a great deal since 1996. Its biggest-selling model is now the Cayenne SUV and another 4x4 is in the pipeline.
So does this ‘affordable’ sports car still matter to Porsche – and is it still the class’s outstanding driver’s car?