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NYIAS 2012: Porsche Boxster 981

The Boxster (Type:986) was introduced to the world in 1997. Even though the Boxster is an entry-level Porsche, it was a chance for Porsche engineers to start with a clean slate. What emerged was a two-seater sports car suitable for year-round driving, even in New England. In the intervening fifteen years, this affordable Porsche has developed a large and devoted following. There are car clubs and online forums (986PedrosBoard) dedicated to the mid-engine roadster. The appeal is understandable. The Boxster is great looking, well-engineered, and incredibly fun to drive. We have had ours for over 10 years and can’t imagine driving anything else.

The Boxster has seen a couple of significant updates since its introduction. The first (Type: 987) was back in 2005. With a bigger engine and some cosmetic and mechanical refinements, the 987 addressed some of the requests and lessons learned from the 986. A more powerful engine gave the car more snap off the line and agility when maneuvering. At the start of 2012, Porsche unveiled the next generation of Boxster (Type: 981). This time around, Porsche went all out. We got a first-hand look at the brand new Boxster at the NYIAS.

The new Boxster is a beauty. We liked what Porsche did in this update. While just about everything with the car has had been tweaked in one way or another, its pedigree and outline are still unmistakably Boxster. In general, we find the lines of new Boxster to be sharper and more purposeful. Take the example of the indents on the doors leading to the air scoops. While they may appear to be a cosmetic accent, they are actually air channels designed to increase the flow of air into the scoops on the side. The fact they look really cool is just a bonus.

The roll bars behind the seats are now more visually integrated with the body of the car. The interior has been rethought, refactored, and refined as evidenced by the more tactile feel of the controls, easier access to often-used buttons and knobs, and a generally more ergonomic layout of everything within the driver’s reach.

When we got our 986, the first item to go was the “Boxster” logo on the lid of the trunk. The logo was black, made of plastic, and was just too big. Something was just not quite right about it. We weren’t the only ones who felt that way. There were actually quite few threads on the various Boxster forums on how to remove the logo (the best way was to run a length of floss underneath the logo to undercut the adhesive foam holding it onto the trunk). Anyway, the new chrome lettering across the trunk lid now looks much nicer. It is a small thing, but you would not believe how Porsche aficionados obsesses over such details. Hmmm, wonder how much it would cost to get the new lettering put on our Boxster?

Those interested in the technical specs of the 981 can get their fill at the Boxster page on Porsche’s site. While they are impressive on paper, we didn’t feel we could make any comments about the new Boxster’s performance until we’ve had a test drive. Specs are one thing, but hands-on-the-wheel-foot-on-the-gas-pedal experience is another. One thing we would say is that if the new Boxster’s handling is as good as its looks, we may be tempted to justify an upgrade. The problem is, even after twelve years, we would be hard pressed to find enough reasons to warrant trading in our current ride. It is probably not something Porsche would be happy to hear, but it is a compliment to how well they did the job the first time-round.

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