A Boxster Flirtation

20150425-DSCN6664Saturday I spent nearly an hour behind the wheel of a second-gen Boxster (2005 type 987 with the flat six with something like 240-250 hp) with manual gearbox and (standard, I think) 18-inch wheels.

Naturally, I had to compare it in my mind to my 944. Here are some thoughts, not based on any kind of real expertise, just my personal take on things:

First Impressions – The Boxster certainly has much more of the traditional (read 911) “look” than the 944 and seems much more modern, of course. With the top up, it gives us a little bit of that old Speedster feel.

Interior – Claustrophobic, compared to the airy cabin of the 944. Almost nil rearward vision (without using side mirrors; needs a back-up video camera) with the top up. Seems narrower and tighter inside than the 944, but only slightly. I also had the impression that I was sitting higher, although I didn’t spend that much time trying to optimize my seating position. The thick-rimmed Boxster steering wheel is much nicer. Seats seem a little grippier (but we are comparing this to 30-year-old foam) but perhaps softer.

Dimensions and Specifications – Found most of these in Wikipedia (but I have seen other weight and engine specs):

Boxster 944
Wheelbase (in.) 95.1 94.5
Length (in.) 171.6 170
Width (in.) 70.9 68.3
Height (in.) 51 50.2
Curb weight (lb.) 3130 2778
Engine 2.7L 2.5L
Horsepower 240 147
   @ RPM 6700? 5800
Torque 199 140
   @ RPM 4700 3000
HP/Pound 13.04167 18.89796

Sounds – Nothing sounds quite like a Porsche flat six. Although I don’t hate the 944’s exhaust note at all. Cabin noise is much less than the harshness of the Blue Rascal, with Konis and Yokohamas contributing a lot to the latter. I also suspect that the BX has more sound-deadening insulation (it does weigh several hundred pounds more than the 944; don’t know the weight figures on the arguably more comparable 944 cabrio). But when you stick it to the go pedal, it sounds … marvelous.

Performance (whatever that means) – The Boxster is decidedly quicker, as you would expect based on factors like a greatly advantageous power-to-weight ratio. There is a nearby mild uphill longish S-curve onramp that I occasionally use that lets the Blue Rascal see 85 – 88 per speedo as I top its crest and begin the freeway merge. Taking the Boxster up the same climb saw just under 100 on its speedo at about the same point. It has always been pretty easy to be illegal with my 944; even more so with the Boxster. And some of my favorite corners had to be dealt with judiciously, as the Boxster definitely emerges faster and its greater power is there earlier.

Subjective Feel – The 944 actually feels like it has ever-so-slightly more grip, but the Boxster just seems to glide in a planted way through the corners. Maybe that is because I am used to the 944, and certainly never romped on the Boxster to fear-inducing lengths. I was surprised at how similar — or at least recognizably “Porsche” — both cars felt, and both feel quite a bit different from what I recall of my 911 drives. I love the steering feel in both cars, and each had very similar clutch and gearbox feel, although the Boxster seemed to have shorter throws (making me want to investigate a short-shifter kit for the ‘Rascal).  Just a wonderfully responsive, fun and comfy car.

Conclusion – I really, really like the Boxster.   And it is a car I think my wife would love, without being put off by the harshness and noise of the 944. But I cringe when I think about servicing such a thing, or even looking at that engine bay.   I would enjoy more power at my immediate touch than the 944 has, but I am left with the thought that I still have a remarkable dollar-for-dollar package of cost effectiveness in my 30-year-old beater.

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