The basics: 2.7-liter to 3.4-liter flat-6, 265-320 horsepower; five- or six-speed manual or automatic; mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
Price: $47,000 and up
Fuel economy: 20/29 mpg (base Boxster) to 18/25 mpg (Boxster S)
Rating: 8.8 out of 10
There, now. You see? The Boxster and Cayman still check in numerically higher than the 370Z. No cracks in the earth's surface have opened, no satanic curses need to be muttered. However, you should know when plunking down the extra bills for the Teutonic two-seater, that you're spending a lot of time and effort and cash on some evanescent qualities.
One unquestionable edge you'll find with the Boxster and Cayman, versus the 370Z, is in handling. There's simply a benefit to the mid-engined layout of the Porsche twins over the very well-balanced, front-engined Z. The Boxster and Cayman turn in right now; they dance a much finer samba line at the edge of traction. And truth be told, part of the appeal in owning a sportscar is usually in its heritage. The Porsche not only has a pedigree, it wears it, in the sultry edges that do all but write "550 Spyder" in the air as it snaps through the atmosphere in a 5.0-second, 60-mph rush. It may also have a slight edge in cargo capacity than the Z, which may be pointless but still a point taken. And fuel economy--gas mileage of all things--is better in the base car.
On the other hand, you'll still encounter some of the loudness in the Boxster and Cayman you'd think you'd dodged by not choosing the Z. The automatics have a gear less than the Z, but dual-clutch gearboxes are on the way. The cargo room isn't teamed with small-item storage in the cabin, and Porsches still have a long way to go in integrating navigation and audio systems into a customer-pleasing whole. The worst offenses of all: the base seats feel a little wiry, and to get better chairs--and better trim all around--you'll need to open your wallet to almost 911 dimensions. A Boxster or Cayman can get very, very pricey, if you're not as steady at the showroom as you are on Lap Five at Laguna Seca.
TheCarConnection.com's Bottom Line? What's not to love about the Porsche Boxster and Cayman? The kind of things most sportscar buyers ignore as they indulge its standard-bearing handling and iconic shape.