From £38,810
New gearbox and limited-slip differential make the Boxster even better
19 January 2009
Porsche Boxster S 2009

What is it?

This is the facelifted Porsche Boxster S. Porsche has given its mid-engined roadster a host of subtle yet significant visual and mechanical upgrades, in line with its fixed-roof sibling, the Porsche Cayman, which we first drove back in early December.

With BMW getting ready to launch a second-generation Z4 and a soft-top version of the new Nissan 370Z on the way, the introduction of the facelifted Porsche Boxster S is timely.

Holding true to Porsche tradition, the visual changes made to this latest Porsche Boxster S are slight indeed, and will take the Boxster through to 2012, when an all-new model arrives.

As with the recently reworked Porsche Cayman, both Boxsters get a reworked engine, resulting in more power, better economy and reduced emissions.

The base model gets a slightly gutsier 252bhp 2.9-litre horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine, up from 2.7 litres, while the more overtly sporting Porsche Boxster S retains a 3.4-litre engine.

However, the Porsche Boxster S gets direct fuel injection and a host of other enhancements to raise peak power to 306bhp, with torque up by 15lb ft to 265lb ft, although that’s 15bhp and 8lb ft down on the figures Porsche quotes for the Cayman S.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Along with the new engines, the Porsche Boxster S now comes with the option of a seven-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission.

Another interesting development is the option of a limited-slip differential in combination with either 18-inch or 19-inch wheels. This is a complete turnaround from previous models and comes after pressure from owners demanding it.

What’s it like?

Even without a limited-slip differential the new Porsche Boxster S is, frankly, sublime. So good, in fact, that you step out of it after a good back-road thrash and wonder just how Porsche could improve upon it.

The reworked engine brings an added dimension in performance, with improved lower-end response, greater urgency through the mid range and a more linear delivery of power towards the top end.

Most will see the six-speed manual as the obvious choice of gearbox. And with such a slick and precise nature, it’s hard not to see why.

But don’t dismiss the twin-clutch PDK. The automatic operation of the clutch can be over-aggressive as you tip in the power at low speeds, causing some unnecessary driveline shunt, but in all other areas the PDK ’box on the Porsche Boxster S is brilliant. It’s lightning fast and, with an ability to hold on to a given gear all the way to the limiter in manual mode, you’ll never be able to match its operation.

Should I buy one?

Absolutely. Like its fixed-roof cousin, the Porsche Boxster S is one of the most enjoyable performance cars available at any price. And dynamically the Porsche Boxster S is still the king of the roadster brigade.

No rival comes close to matching its overall balance, adjustability, composure and superb braking ability. And the addition of a limited-slip differential now makes it even more involving.

Join the debate


19 January 2009

Couple of errors in your road test chaps:

1). The Boxter 987 range has always had a roof which can be operated up to 30mph, I've seen 39 indicated.

2). The LSD is available with both wheel sizes available on the Boxster S (18/19) not restricted to these sizes.

Want one.

19 January 2009

Put a deposit down this morning and will take delivery either late March or early April - gone are the old 9 month waiting lists. The LSD isn't available until July build cars though and I couldn't wait as spring is on it's way. Don't think I'll regret not waiting for an LSD too much as it isn't a track day tool anyway.

The dealer was also willing to negotiate on trade in price for my Cayman S, (previously unheard of), and a week of them thinking about it will see me £4800 better off on price to change.

19 January 2009

[quote Paul J]The dealer was also willing to negotiate on trade in price for my Cayman S, (previously unheard of), and a week of them thinking about it will see me £4800 better off on price to change.[/quote]

Sounds like you got a good deal Paul J, the troubled times we live in mean waiting lists are pretty much non existent unless you want a Ferrari California or a Morgan...

Having done some recent research on Porsche prices, it seems like used 911's are holding their value better than most other sports cars, especially if auto, so your boxster should do ok.

Whilst the 370Z is a rival in terms of performance and concept, in reality I can't think of many Porsche buyers considering it as an option, simply because of the Nissan badge, which is a shame as it will be a good car, as was the 350Z. (Ajay the designer was in the year above me at Coventry Uni and was easily the most talented artist in his year, unlike myself!)

I do wonder about how they are going to move the Porsche styling on or whether they are going to be caught in a rut like Jaguar was for 30 years...

19 January 2009

I bought a new 987 2.7 in 2005. A very complete sportscar in every way. Then moved to a 2003 911. The extra grunt was welcome and having used the car on trackdays, not the handful perhaps one might expect. The only difference I found was that the Boxster allows mid corner changes of direction. The new power output of the S probably makes it a genuine alternative to the 911. Be interested to know if there is any difference at all in terms of lap time.

20 January 2009

[quote Paul J]The dealer was also willing to negotiate on trade in price for my Cayman S, (previously unheard of), and a week of them thinking about it will see me £4800 better off on price to change.[/quote]

A good deal indeed. A speculative call from my dealer resulted in me being quoted £20k for an exact replacement for my 3.4S. Maybe I would be able to get that reduced if I were really serious but even then a £15k loss on a low mileage 18 month old car doesn't seem that great to me.

I do wonder whether the 'new' model changes are too suble for their own good - I would need significant persuasion to take on a new one at the moment. As Autocar says it's such a good car as it is, would I even notice the improvements? Any improvement on 22mpg would be welcome though :-(

21 January 2009

[quote Paul J]The dealer was also willing to negotiate on trade in price [/quote]

This is Porsche, right? Actually negotiating? Amazing what a recession can do. Seems like it might be time to trade our 2005 987 2.7 with 20k miles... Can't wait!

24 March 2009

Would it be such a bad thing if Porsche developed proper paddle shifters for the PDK and put this on the options list, with a small charge to cover the development costs? Porsches argument for the silly counter-intuitive shift buttons is that they don't want to alienate their current customers who are used to the old style shifters for the tiptronic autos. By developing an optional paddle shift system, this would allow current porsche owners to choose the current PDK shifters at no extra cost, whilst allowing everyone else the option of a propper paddle system. In my opinion, Porsche may find that most people will opt for this new paddle system. Everyone would be happy and this would make the Boxster/Caymen/911 perfect! What do you think?

5 April 2009

Having taken delivery of my 2009 Boxster 2.9 a month ago and driven the new Boxster S as well, I agree they are both very good cars. Handling are as good as ever and both the 2.9 engine and direct injection are winners. The PDK option (flappy-paddle gearbox) is a very good automatic-streets ahead of tiptronic-but a bit over complicated. Only question is whether it is worth the extra money for the 'S' now- the old boxster was a bit tame but 2007 update was beter and now you;ve got the 2.9 it really has all the torque and top-end power you need unless you really want to get into supercar territory. Stick wiht the 2.9 and spend the differnce on toys!

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week