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Boxster

How to turn your old Porsche Boxster into a new 911 Turbo

Boxster

An early Porsche Boxster is the most affordable way to step onto the ladder of Porsche ownership. Use it to climb the rungs and, who knows, one day that dream Porsche 911 Turbo could be yours.

But what about if there was a way to get on the ladder and jump straight to the top in one move? Thanks to an enterprising company, dreamers now don’t only have to dream. Meet the A Nu Dimension Boxster GTB.

‘A Nu Dimension’ (AND) claims to provide what it calls “the only GT Boxster conversion kit”. The finished product obviously resembles a 911 but AND insists it’s not a replica. The objective is to “improve the look of older Porsche models, creating an up-to-date looking model”.

Boxster

The best part is that this near-complete transformation of a Boxster into a 991 911 can take place on your driveway. This is, in a sense, a kit car, with AND priding itself on the ease of application.

“The GTB kit is designed for the home builder with [a] simple straightforward process to enable the individual to build the car at home with a basic set of tools.”

Kits range from £5,300 (minus the donor car: prices start on Auto Trader from around £3,500) and they’ll fit 2.5, 2.7 and 3.2-litre first- and second-generation Boxsters.

You can also buy a fully built car for £20,000. Although at that price, we’d recommend your first Porsche ought to be a 997 911 instead.

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6 reasons why you shouldn’t buy a Porsche Boxster

6 reasons why you shouldn’t buy a Porsche Boxster

6 reasons why you shouldn’t buy a Porsche Boxster

Porsche’s entry-level soft-top is celebrating its 20th birthday this month. Early models are now classics in their own right, while the new 718 Boxster is a tempting buy for someone in the market for a new sports car. But you’re not seriously tempted to buy a Boxster, are you? Here are six reasons why you definitely shouldn’t.

1: You could buy a sensible Mazda MX-5 instead

A cheap Porsche definitely isn’t anything to aspire to. Starting at £3,000 in the classifieds for an early Boxster, you could get a much nicer MX-5 for the money. Yeah, a second-generation MX-5 with added rust, 140hp and a Mazda badge. Much better than a cheap Porsche Boxster.

2: James May had one

2: James May had one

The first car Captain Slow ever purchased new was a Boxster S in 2005. And we all know how uncool he is. The ex-Top Gear presenter also boasts a BMW i3, Ferrari 458 Speciale and a couple of planes in his garage. Why would you want to follow in his footsteps?

3: The 718 Boxster S has a 2.5-litre flat-four

Like a Subaru Impreza WRX, but with 350hp and 310lb ft of torque, meaning it’ll hit 62mph in 4.6 seconds. That’s 0.8 seconds quicker than its six-cylinder predecessor, and just as quick as an entry-level 911. But being a four-cylinder, it’s practically the same as a Ford Focus… right?

4: The original was ugly

4: The original was ugly

At 20-years-old, the original Boxster is so blobby and hasn’t aged well. Just look at it. Such an ugly mess.

5: It’s mid-engined, and apparently that’s dangerous

Like many dangerous cars including the Ferrari Enzo, Lamborghini Countach and Porsche Carrera GT, the Boxster’s engine is located in front of the rear axle. We all know that front-engined/front-wheel-drive cars are better. Because understeer is the safest of skids.

6: People will think you can’t afford a 911

6: People will think you can’t afford a 911

Used Porsche 911s start at around £10,000 for a 3.4-litre 996 and their engines are known to implode (even more than the Boxster’s). You should definitely spend money on a less reliable Porsche just for the 911 badge. Show the neighbours you’re winning at life. As your car lands you a bill of several thousand pounds and your television is repossessed.

In pictures: 20 years of the Porsche Boxster

In pictures: 20 years of the Porsche Boxster

In pictures: 20 years of the Porsche Boxster

November marks 20 years since the launch of the controversial Porsche Boxster. Love or hate the soft-top Porsche, there’s no denying that Porsche would be where it is today without it.

Back in the early 1990s, the German car manufacturer was in the doldrums, suffering from falling sales and what looked like an inability to ride out the global recession. To say a lot was resting on the shoulders of the Boxster would be underplaying things. For Porsche, the Boxster was not only a game-changer, it was a life-saver.

Porsche Boxster concept of 1993

The Boxster first appeared as a concept at the 1993 Detroit Motor Show. It totally stole the limelight, evoking memories of the stunning 550 Spyder. Its name was a combination of Boxer, a reference to its engine layout, and Speedster, a nod in the direction of the iconic 356. Such was the car’s reception, Porsche had little option but to push forward with production.

To save costs, the Boxster – internal designation 986 – was developed alongside the new Porsche 911 (996). Porsche looked to Japan – and in particular, Toyota – to learn new production methods, with the outcome being a leaner and fitter organisation. A change was required. In 1986, Porsche sold 30,471 cars in the United States. By 1993 that number had fallen to 3,728. Put simply, Porsche was in a mess.

Porsche Boxster launched in 1996

When the Boxster was finally unveiled in 1996, it’s fair to say there was a momentary sigh of disappointment. Gone was the svelte and sculpted styling of the concept, with the production car looking more bulbous and slab-sided. Of course, the majority of changes were required for mechanical purposes, but we certainly missed the curved doors, low side air intakes and front grille.

But the Boxster was critical to the firm’s long term future. Sure, in the 911 it could boast a global icon, but that was hardly the answer for a company looking to beat the recession. No, what Porsche needed was something more affordable. A car for those who aspired to 911 ownership but didn’t have the means to achieve their dream. The Boxster would go head-to-head with the Mercedes-Benz SLK and BMW Z3…

Poor man’s Porsche 911?

Crucially, the Boxster would trounce the opposition. The hints of 911 made it an easy target for armchair critics, but dynamically speaking the Boxster was in a different league to the Z3 and SLK. Forget the ridiculous tags of ‘poor man’s Porsche 911’ and ‘hairdresser’s car’, the Boxster was – and still is – the real deal.

In its basic form, the Porsche Boxster offered seats with Alcantara centres, 16-inch alloy wheels and no air conditioning. But naturally, Boxster owners were keen to tick a few option boxes, with leather, sports seats, climate control, heated seats, premium audio, a wind deflector, xenon headlights and Porsche Stability Management (PSM) among the options. Porsche was also the first carmaker to offer cabrio-suitable side airbags with head protection.

Porsche Boxster: hard-top

In the UK at least, the hard-top was a popular option. Squint hard and this could pass as a Porsche 911, which would only add fuel to the ‘poor man’s 911’ fire. And let’s not get started on the ‘looks the same from the front as it does from the back’ argument. The fact is, customers voted with their deposits. Such was the demand, Porsche opened a second assembly line in Finland.

In 2000, the Porsche Boxster came of age when the 201hp 2.5-litre engine was replaced by the 217hp 2.7-litre unit. The additional power and torque proved what many onlookers had been saying since 1996: that the Porsche Boxster’s chassis could handle more power.

Porsche Boxster S

But the 2.7-litre engine wasn’t the only big news of 2000. In the same year, Porsche launched the Boxster S, complete with a 250hp 3.2-litre engine. Although subtly different, the S could be spotted by its 17-inch rims, red brake calipers, S badges, titanium-effect trim and – the real giveaway – twin tailpipes.

The Boxster range was facelifted in 2003, with the plastic rear window replaced by a smaller glass window. In addition, the universally disliked ‘fried egg’ indicators were replaced with clear glass indicators. In 2004, Porsche launched the Boxster S 550 Anniversary, built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original 550 Spyder. Only 1,953 cars were built, each one painted in the same silver metallic paint found on the Carrera GT.

Porsche Boxster 987

Porsche Boxster 987

The long-awaited second-generation Boxster, known as the 987, was unveiled at the 2004 Paris Motor Show, before going on sale in 2005. The big changes were a new headlight design, larger wheelarches and an improved and harder-wearing interior. The Boxster 987 also spawned a coupe version, known as the Cayman.

A number of special editions followed, including the Design Edition 2. It featured a freer-flowing exhaust, which nudged the power from 291hp to 299hp. Only 500 were made.

Porsche Boxster Spyder

Milestones came and went, with the Boxster notching up 200,000 sales by 2006. This was followed in 2008 with a facelifted 987, featuring cosmetic and performance upgrades. But these were nothing compared to the impact of the Boxster Spyder. It was launched at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show and at the time it was the lightest production Porsche you could buy. It also sat one inch lower and featured a pair of signature humps. It was an instant classic.

Today, we’re all a tad excited about the prospect of the Porsche Mission E going into production, but back in 2011 the Boxster E was the most electrifying news to come out of Stuttgart. The four-wheel-drive Boxster E ditched its petrol engine for an electric motor, helping it to accelerate to 62mph in just 5.5 seconds. Sadly, an electric Boxster hasn’t made it into production. Yet.

New generation Porsche Boxster 981

New generation Porsche Boxster 981

The third generation Porsche Boxster – internal designation 981 – was unveiled at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, powered by either a 261hp 2.7-litre engine or a 311hp 3.4-litre unit. The 981 is wider and longer than the previous Boxster, but is 35kg lighter. Crucially, in this age where economy rules, Porsche claims the Boxster is 15% more efficient than before.

In 2014, the Boxster range was extended to include a GTS model, the first time the badge had been seen on Porsche’s entry-level sports car. It’s powered by a 330hp 3.4-litre engine which, when mated to the PDK transmission, helps the Boxster GTS sprint to 62mph in 4.9 seconds (4.7 seconds in Sport+ mode).

Porsche Boxster Spyder

An even more extreme version of the 981 Boxster followed in 2015, revealed at the New York Auto Show. Powered by a mildly detuned version of the 3.8-litre flat-six found in the Cayman GT4 and 911 Carrera S, the Spyder was the most powerful Boxster ever sold, producing 375hp. With a twin-hump rear deck and manually folding canvas roof, it looked the part, too.

The original design team of Grant Larson and Stefan Stark deserve huge credit for nailing the Boxster from the start. That the first and second generation cars stayed true to the original formula is a testament to getting it right first time. This is the Black Edition, a special edition that majors on a host of black upgrades. There’s also a small increase in power.

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster

2016 Porsche 718 Boxster

And that bring us today, with the new 718 Boxster currently on sale. Powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, many complain that it lacks the character of its predecessors. But with the Boxster S producing 375hp, hitting 62mph in 4.6 seconds yet returning a combined 34.9mpg, there’s a lot to like about the 718. It’s a new chapter for the Boxster, but one we’re happy to embrace. Bring on the next 20 years.

Porsche 718 Boxster

Porsche 718 Boxster review: 2016 first drive

Porsche 718 BoxsterEvery few years, Porsche launches a controversial new car and motoring hacks dutifully report how ‘the purists’ are crying into their cappuccinos. Nobody knows quite who these folk are, or why they’re so prone to getting upset. But this has been happening for a long time.

The sorrowful saga probably begins with the 924 of 1976 a Porsche fitted with a Volkswagen engine. Then, in 1997, the iconic 911 went from being air-cooled to water-cooled. That was followed in 2002 by the Cayenne, a Porsche that isn’t even a sports car.

In recent years, Porsche-o-philes have faced even more anguish. There was the electric power steering on the latest 911, the lack of a manual gearbox in the GT3 and now step away from that cup of coffee a Boxster with four cylinders.

It’s a familiar story: engines downsized and turbocharged in the name of improved efficiency. So, out go the familiar flat sixes in favour of two new flat fours, 2.0 litres in the 300hp Boxster and 2.5 litres in the 350hp Boxster S. Power is up by 45hp and fuel consumption reduced by 13% in both cars.  

Porsche 718 BoxsterThe Boxster also has a new name: 718 Boxster the numbers harking back to Porsche’s four-pot racing cars of the 1960s. Whether anyone will stop simply calling it ‘Boxster’ is perhaps a moot point, but we’re told it’s said ‘seven-eighteen’, not ‘seven-one-eight’. As a mid-life update for the 981 Boxster, the purists among you will doubtless refer to it as the 981.2.

Styling changes for the 718 are more subtle, although every body panel apart from the rear deck is new. The most noticeable difference is a pert rear spoiler, replete with wide ‘Porsche’ lettering that recalls classic Porkers of the past.

Under the skin, an uprated steering rack nabbed from the 911 Turbo turns 10% quicker, while the rear suspension borrows parts from the hardcore Cayman GT4. PCCB carbon-ceramic brakes and PASM adaptive suspension, which reduces ride height by 20mm, are options for the first time. And the Sport Chrono pack (also optional) gives you a Ferrari Manettino-style drive mode selector on the steering wheel, with Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual settings.

As with any Porsche, the proof of the pudding is in the driving (even the Cayenne won us over eventually), so we packed our Factor 30 and headed for the mountain roads of southern Portugal. Time to find out if four into 718 really does go…

03_PorscheOn the road

The thudding beat of a flat-four engine is inescapably associated with the Subaru Impreza. So your initial thought on firing up the 718 Boxster is of the Japanese rally rocket/chav chariot (delete as applicable). Perhaps not quite the first impression Porsche intended.

In Lisbon traffic, the Porsche is harder work than most rivals. Its steering requires a pair of trim biceps, visibility is poor with the roof up and the ride is firm on the optional 20-inch alloys (18s are standard on the Boxster 2.0, with 19s on the S).

Heading into the hills, the traffic thins and the Tarmac becomes twistier. So we drop the roof, twist the Sport Chrono switch into Sport mode and… suddenly the Boxster starts to make sense.

That 911 Turbo steering still isn’t the last word in feedback, but it’s precise and very quick. And the PCCB brakes do a sterling job of scrubbing off speed. However, as we later discover, the standard 330mm front discs, sourced from the 911 Carrera, are more than adequate for normal road use.

As for the way this car goes round corners, it’s just sensational. The new chassis set-up feels even more agile, neither pushing wide into understeer, nor sliding sideways into oversteer. Obviously, switching the PSM stability control off and applying a bootful of throttle mid-corner will unstick the rear end, but you need to try very hard to make the Boxster misbehave. This car works with you, not against you, allowing you to indulge your inner Stig in safety.

Porsche 718 BoxsterImpressions of the new engines are more mixed. The extra turbocharged torque really slingshots the car between corners, with peak pulling power of 280lb ft arriving at just 1,950rpm (310lb ft at 1,900rpm in the S). A Dynamic Boost function keeps the turbo spinning when you back off the gas, meaning throttle response is instant in any gear. Even at motorway speeds in seventh, the Boxster simply pulls, while the S surges forward with a startling turn of speed. And, with less need for high revs, both cars are easier to drive quickly.

They’re quicker against the stopwatch, too. The benchmark 0-62mph sprint takes in 4.7 seconds in the 2.0 with PDK and the Sport Chrono pack (0.8 seconds less than the outgoing car), or 4.2 seconds for the S in the same spec (down by 0.6 seconds). Top speeds are 171mph and 177mph respectively.

No Porsche review would be complete without Nurburgring lap time, of course. The company quotes an impressive seven minutes and 42 seconds for the S, which is reduced by 14 seconds and very close to the Cayman GT4.

The Boxster has never been simply about raw speed, though. And some of what you gain in objective performance is lost in subjective feel. The new turbocharged engines bark and burble at low revs, but they don’t howl when extended like a flat six. And, much as we enjoy a slug of shove-you-in-the-back torque, we miss the old engines’ intoxicating high-rev rush to the redline.

Porsche 718 BoxsterOn the inside

The most obvious difference inside the Boxster is the upgraded PCM touchscreen media system. Bolder, smartphone-style graphics and more intuitive menus make it easier to use, particularly via the optional Apple Carplay interface (you can even talk to the car using Siri). Porsche still expects you to pay £1,052 extra for sat nav, but praise be – Bluetooth connectivity is now standard.

Apart from that, the upright, 918 Spyder-style steering wheel is slightly smaller and the air vents are a different shape. And, er… that’s about it.

Fortunately, there was little wrong with the Boxster’s cabin in the first place. The low-slung driving position offers plenty of adjustment, while materials and build quality feel worthy of a car that, in the case of the S, now comfortably exceeds £50,000.

Porsche 718 BoxsterSupportive and well-padded seats hug you in all the right places and a large rev counter (redlined at 7,500rpm) dominates your view ahead. The steering wheel is pleasingly bereft of buttons, too – all the better to concentrate on the job at hand.

Unlike some roadsters we could name (Mazda MX-5), there is a glovebox and several stowage spaces around the cabin. The Boxster also has two boots, one in the front and one behind the engine, making it more practical than you might expect. Combined volume is 275 litres, just 15 litres less than a Ford Fiesta.

Lowering the roof takes around 10 seconds via a button on the centre console, and doesn’t affect luggage space. Clip the wind-deflector between the seats and, with luck, it won’t even affect your hairstyle.

Porsche 718 BoxsterRunning costs

We came to the 718 launch straight from a visit to Porsche specialists, Autofarm. There we saw no less than five examples of the legendary 911 Carrera 2.7 RS, a car worth up to £1,000,000 in perfect condition.

The values of classic Porsches may have skyrocketed, but you’ll need to hang on to your Boxster for several decades before prices of this popular Porsche start to appreciate.

That said, the Boxster is among the slowest depreciating cars on sale. Its percentage loss in value over time is beaten only by a handful of low-volume supercars and its Cayman coupe cousin. It’s still an expensive car to buy in the first place, though – starting at £42,094 for the 2.0 and £51,105 for the 2.5 S.

We say ‘starting at’ because Porsche is a Jedi master when it comes to extra-cost options. Most people will choose the paddle-shift PDK gearbox, which adds around £1,800. Then there is the Sport Chrono pack (£1,125), sports suspension with PASM for the Boxster S (£1,133) and – if you plan to tackle some track-days – PCCB carbon brakes (a whopping £4,977).

Porsche 718 BoxsterWe’d also be tempted to splash out £1,344 for LED headlights, £1,052 for sat nav, £348 for Park Assist and £284 each for digital radio and heated seats. However, we’d avoid most of the ‘personalisation’ options for the interior, such as boudoir-red leather. The good news is the none of this stuff is strictly necessary. A basic Boxster with a manual ’box is all you really need.

Porsche may trumpet the punchier performance, but the real reason for those turbocharged engines is, of course, fuel economy. Official figures of 40.9mpg for the Boxster and 38.7mpg for the S (both with PDK) represent gains of 4-5mpg.

Carbon dioxide emissions are also improved, at 158g/km and 167g/km, which equates to an annual car tax (VED) bill of £185 or £210. It’s worth noting, however, that the manual gearbox pushes both engines up by one tax band (£210 or £230).

Porsche 718 BoxsterVerdict

A sports car is one of the least rational purchases you can make. How many of us can spend the price of a terraced house in Liverpool on a car with just two seats and barely enough boot space for a week away?

But it has ever been the case. Sports cars are designed to stir the soul, not soothe the bank balance. And here is where our dilemma lies.

The new 718 Boxster is, without question, superior to the model it replaces. It’s faster, better balanced and more economical. Cutting to the chase, we think it’s still the finest roadster on sale – and a five-star car.

The Boxster has always been defined by its chassis, rather than its engine. However, something has certainly been lost by lopping off two cylinders. The Subaru soundtrack is a bit of a sore point, but we’d get used to it. However, the visceral top-end rush of those naturally-aspirated sixes will be missed. That’s the price of progress.

Porsche 718 BoxsterSpeaking of price, the Boxster has become very expensive. We don’t think the 50hp-more-muscular S feels different enough to justify a £9,000 premium over the regular car. And we’d save a further £1,800 by having ours with a manual ‘box, thanks.

Don’t worry if your budget doesn’t stretch to £42,000 or more, though. You can now find early 981 Boxsters, complete with flat-six engines, for less than £30,000. So while Porsche marches into the future, perhaps its canniest customers will look to the past.

Porsche 718 Boxster: specification

Price: £42,094

Engine: 2.0-litre petrol

Gearbox: 6-speed manual

Power: 300hp

Torque: 280lb ft

0-62mph: 4.9 seconds

Top speed: 171mph

Fuel economy: 38.0mpg

CO2 emissions: 168g/km

 

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