2008 Porsche Boxster

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The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
September 8, 2008

Buying tip

The 2008 Porsche Boxster has steadily become more expensive over the years, with base versions starting around $45,000 and RS 60 versions pushing past $60,000. The S versions are as close as you can get to Porsche 911-like performance for the price, but the base car is still hugely entertaining.

features & specs

2-Door Roadster
2-Door Roadster Limited Edition
2-Door Roadster RS 60 Spyder
20 city / 29 hwy
20 city / 29 hwy
19 city / 27 hwy

The 2008 Porsche Boxster performs brilliantly, and looks and feels the part, delivering a modern take on the classic roadster experience.

TheCarConnection.com's editors researched a wide range of road tests of the 2008 Porsche Boxster to write this definitive review. TheCarConnection.com's resident experts also drove the Porsche Boxster to help you decide which reviews to trust where opinions differ, to add more impressions and details, and to provide you with the best information.

The 2008 Porsche Boxster is the car that returned Germany's most famous sportscar maker to its roots. The style is classic rear-engine roadster; in silver, the Porsche Boxster looks like it could have erupted right from a technical drawing pad. The interior looks basic, but the fundamentals are in the right places and trimmed with higher-quality materials than in the original Boxster.

The Boxster, Porsche's least expensive car, comes charged in its base form by a 245-horsepower, 2.7-liter six-cylinder engine, which is coupled to a five- or six-speed manual transmission Porsche says will accelerate to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds with the manual, 6.7 seconds with the automatic. The Boxster S sports a larger, 295-horsepower, 3.4-liter six-cylinder and a six-speed manual gearbox or the five-speed automatic. Its acceleration to 60 mph with the manual is just 5.1 seconds; with the automatic, it takes 5.8 seconds. There's also a 303-hp special edition of the Boxster S, dubbed the RS 60, available this year.
Fuel economy is 20/29 mpg with the base car, and 18/25 mpg with the Boxster S automatic. That's good performance to match the 2008 Porsche Boxster's brilliant road manners. It's an ideal companion for any twisty road--the steering winds in naturally, the brakes are strong and responsive, and the manual transmissions have short-throw shifts.

The cockpit is an ideal place to work, too. The controls are arranged neatly, although Porsche's audio systems are notorious for iffy sound quality and too many buttons. The convertible top is power-operated, the seats are typically firm (bolstered sport seats are an option), and since the engine is mounted in the back, the front hood hides a reasonably large storage area. Equipment is extensive; there's automatic air conditioning with air filtration, a CD stereo, a rear spoiler, partial-leather upholstery, heated washer nozzles, and locking alloy wheels, all standard. The 2008 Porsche Boxster also offers one of the longest lists of available interior and exterior cosmetic tweaks in the business--virtually every switch, button, and knob can be leather-wrapped in any of several finishes, for example.

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The 2008 Porsche Boxster has standard front, side, and special head-protecting side-impact airbags, which deploy from the doors' windowsills. Anti-lock brakes and stability control are also standard.


2008 Porsche Boxster


The 2008 Porsche Boxster offers classic Porsche styling that's guaranteed to turn heads.

Porsche styling is among the most distinctive and recognizable on the road, and the 2008 Porsche Boxster continues the tradition of elegant, purposeful looks.

According to Edmunds reviewers, the "2008 Porsche Boxster sports car comes as either the basic Boxster or the massaged, pricier Boxster S," though they "are visually similar except for the additional center front grille opening, red brake calipers and dual exhaust outlets on the S." For Porsche, 2008 brings an additional style in that "both the base Boxster and S model are offered in Limited Edition trim as well," which is "basically a retro paint theme with orange paint covering the exterior and parts of the interior," according to Edmunds.

The classically styled Porsche Boxster "is a roadster designed to be the 'spiritual descendant' of the 356 Speedster and 550 Spyder," surmises Cars.com, and "features large side and front air intakes and a front end that shares a lot of traditional Porsche styling cues." Regarding the 2008 edition of the Porsche Boxster, Autoblog says "styling modifications have been minimal, with updates to the front fascia and LED headlamps." Even without those updates, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show universal approval of the exterior styling of the 2008 Porsche Boxster. Kelley Blue Book reviewers are also pleased to note "styling carries over from the subtle, but effective muscular enhancement of the fender lines that debuted in 2005."

Many cars have either a beautiful exterior or impressive interior styling, but few manage to blend the two as well as the 2008 Porsche Boxster. ConsumerGuide says that the "racy design" of the interior "puts the tachometer appropriately dead-ahead on the instrument panel." Kelley Blue Book calls the interior "a modern interpretation of the classic Porsche look -- notably the instrument panel." While the interior is generally applauded by reviewers, Edmunds reports that "the array of interior controls, especially the audio and climate control systems, can be initially confusing." ConsumerGuide affirms that sentiment, allowing that although "the layout is logical" on the Porsche 2008 Boxster, the "audio and climate systems are governed by too many undersized, look-alike buttons."

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2008 Porsche Boxster


The 2008 Porsche Boxster is virtually unmatched when it comes to enthusiastic driving.

The 2008 Porsche Boxster is proof positive that great design and impeccable handling can prove just as appealing as simply being able to get off the line in a hurry.

The 2008 Porsche Boxster is available with one of two very capable engines. Edmunds reports that those engines are a "3.4-liter flat-6 that's good for 295 hp and 251 pound-feet of torque" on the Porsche Boxster S, while the base Porsche 2008 Boxster has "a 2.7-liter flat-6 providing 245 hp and 201 lb-ft of torque." Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com indicate that both engines are fun and engaging, but the 3.4-liter version powering the Porsche Boxster S receives understandably higher praise. ConsumerGuide finds that "any Boxster has smooth, ready power for any situation," while "S versions are particularly strong as engine speed rises." For those who want to know, Edmunds states that a Porsche Boxster S can go "from zero to 60 mph in 5 seconds flat and hit the quarter-mile in 13.4 seconds," while Motor Trend pegs the base Porsche 2008 Boxster at "5.8 sec" from "0-60 mph."

The 2008 Porsche Boxster is also available with three different transmission choices: one automatic and two manuals. Edmunds clarifies that the base Porsche Boxster "comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission," while a "six-speed is optional and comes standard on the Boxster S," and "a five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control" is optional on both. Reviewers praise all three alternatives, but the manual offerings earn the biggest accolades. AutoWeek reviewers "marvel at how perfect the clutch and gearshift mechanisms work," claiming that "their feel and operation is precisely what all other cars should strive for." As for the automatic, Cars.com says "new hydraulics and electronics make the system quick to respond to driver inputs." Although Kelley Blue Book reviewers note "the performance of the Tiptronic S transmission continues to improve," they also recommend that "those physically capable should consider only the ultra-smooth six-speed manual."

Despite impressive performance numbers, the 2008 Porsche Boxster returns very respectable fuel economy. The EPA estimates that a base Porsche Boxster will get 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway with the five-speed automatic transmission, while the manual bumps the mileage up to 20/29 mpg. With the six-speed manual, the base Porsche Boxster should achieve 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, according to the EPA. On the 2008 Porsche Boxster S, the fuel economy numbers are 18/25 mpg for the automatic and 18/26 mpg for the six-speed manual.

The true performance potential of the Boxster is unleashed when the road starts to twist. It is during hard driving that Motor Trend claims "no other sports car is more balanced, more rewarding, or more fun." From there, the praise simply keeps coming, as ConsumerGuide reports that the "steering feel is natural, communicative and responsive" and the Porsche Boxster is "rock-steady on straightaways and agile and balanced in corners." AutoWeek declares that the "handling is darn near perfect," and for emergency stops, the "brakes are phenomenal." Kelley Blue Book adds "the term 'Porsche brakes' has become a synonym for the ultimate in safe, positive stopping." Regarding ride comfort, Edmunds says that "some may find the Boxster's around-town ride too stiff, but it's never particularly harsh."

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2008 Porsche Boxster

Comfort & Quality

As long as you don't mind the engine note, you can just drop the top, load the trunks, and enjoy the luxury found inside the 2008 Porsche Boxster.

The 2008 Porsche Boxster is exceptionally comfortable and boasts plenty of top-notch materials. There is a fair amount of noise, though not only the pleasant kind.

The Porsche 2008 Boxster has room for "two occupants" to "enjoy leather-upholstered body-hugging bucket seats," according to Cars.com. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com unanimously rave about the seats inside the 2008 Porsche Boxster, which Kelley Blue Book says include "four leather-covered seating choices" that "range from mainly-manual six-way adjustable standard seats to fully-powered 'adaptive' sport seats." Edmunds reviewers also love the seats, cooing "seat comfort is extraordinary for both occupants." ConsumerGuide adds "the low-slung cockpit is roomy enough for six-footers," and the Porsche Boxster's "seats are exceptionally supportive during aggressive cornering."

For a sportscar, especially a roadster, the 2008 Porsche Boxster offers an impressive amount of cargo room. ConsumerGuide says that "careful packing takes good advantage of the front and rear cargo bays for more luggage-carrying possibilities than in many two-seaters." Kelley Blue Book cites the Boxster Porsche's "two trunks" among their favorite features, likening it to "having your cake and eating it, too -- and then getting seconds." In terms of actual capacity, Cars.com reports that the "cargo compartments at both ends offer a total of 9.9 cubic feet of space." Interior storage is not quite as practical as the overall trunk space, and ConsumerGuide indicates that "cabin storage space is very limited," but they also note "clever cubbies hidden inside the door armrests."

The Porsche Boxster is a luxury performance car, and the luxury aspect definitely shines through when it comes to materials and build quality. Edmunds writes that the Porsche Boxster's "interior boasts premium materials, proper sports car seating and leather everywhere." ConsumerGuide seconds that opinion, finding that the Boxster's "rich-feeling, carefully assembled cabin materials enhance a sophisticated ambiance." Kelley Blue Book also jumps in with their own compliments, and they are pleased to find that the Porsche 2008 Boxster "carries over the major 2005 revamp that stressed roomier accommodations and upgraded materials."

For all the Boxster's luxurious appointments and performance credentials, it can't outrun its one major drawback in this category: loud road and wind noise. ConsumerGuide says that the "engine's location behind the seats means more mechanical ruckus than in front-engine designs," though fortunately, the "race-car engine note delights." Edmunds also reports "top-up wind noise above 70 mph can sometimes be enough to challenge both conversation and the Boxster's sound system." While AutoWeek reviewers lodge a similar complaint, they also claim that the problem is "easily solved by going topless, dropping the hammer and forgetting about all else."

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2008 Porsche Boxster


Poor top-up visibility isn't enough to bring the otherwise very safe 2008 Porsche Boxster down.

Like the rest of the Porsche 2008 lineup, the 2008 Porsche Boxster has not been crash tested by either of the U.S. testing authorities. However, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the available safety features on the Porsche Boxster are enough to inspire confidence in almost any driver.

The 2008 Porsche Boxster offers a welcome array of standard safety features. Edmunds reviewers are pleased to find that "standard safety features for the 2008 Porsche Boxster include antilock disc brakes" and "dual thorax/head side-impact airbags and roll-over safety bars." Cars.com adds that "a tire pressure monitoring system and an electronic stability system are standard" on the Porsche 2008 Boxster, while the passenger seat offers "weight sensors that disable the front airbags when a child-safety seat is detected." Of the standard safety features on the Porsche Boxster, Kelley Blue Book is most impressed with the Porsche Stability Management System, which they say is as "great for what it doesn't do -- interfere with your fun during aggressive driving -- as much as what it does -- bail you out when the fun stops."

While the Porsche Boxster has many redeeming safety features, driver visibility is a sore point. ConsumerGuide in particular is very critical of the fact that "top-up visibility is severely limited to the corners and aft." Fortunately, Edmunds mentions that there is an optional "park assist" feature on the Porsche Boxster that aids in parking lot maneuvers.


2008 Porsche Boxster


The 2008 Porsche Boxster comes fairly well equipped, but it’s the exhaustive options list that pleases most fans.

The 2008 Porsche Boxster comes well equipped even in its most basic form. For those who crave more, Porsche offers one of the lengthiest options list in the industry for the Porsche Boxster.

The 2008 Porsche Boxster has an impressive standard features list in either base or S trim. Kelley Blue Book says that the standard features on the Porsche Boxster include "an electrically-heated rear glass window" for quick defrosting. Edmunds reports that the Porsche 2008 Boxster lineup also comes standard with a "fast-operating power top (lowers in about 12 seconds), leather upholstery and a seven-speaker CD stereo." Both base and S Porsche Boxsters also include "variable-intermittent wipers w/heated washer nozzles," according to ConsumerGuide, while the Limited editions sport an "Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel."

The standard features on any Porsche 2008 Boxster are exciting, but the real action comes in the form of a generous options list. Kelley Blue Book notes that "Porsche aficionados look forward to personalizing their new Porsches nearly as much as driving them," and to appease them, Porsche offers "an extensive, and expensive, list of options." Some of the highlights on that options list are "19-inch wheels, ceramic composite brakes, full leather/power/heated seats, automatic climate control," and "a navigation system," according to Edmunds reviewers. ConsumerGuide mentions that the available Sport Chrono Package includes an "analog/digital chronometer," as well as "controls for modification of throttle, suspension, traction control, and antiskid system."

While most reviews read by TheCarConnection.com rave about the available options on the 2008 Porsche Boxster, one complaint does arise. That complaint comes courtesy of AutoWeek, which contends "the 'premium' sound system" is "weak in its ability to tune in and keep FM stations' signals and deliver sound quality." While the stereo isn't anywhere near the worst on the road, the AutoWeek reviewers feel that "in this price range, the stereo should be as solid as the driving experience."

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