KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 3/1/2012
Though the term consistently echoes throughout the enthusiast networks, the definition of a "driver's car" varies from person to person. We believe a true driver's car should demand driver involvement, transmit the visceral thrill of performance motoring, and most importantly, provide infinite levels of fun. The 2012 Porsche Boxster wholly embodies these elements on account of its lightweight underpinnings, mid-engine layout, rear-wheel-drive platform and signature open-air cockpit. While rivals such as the BMW Z4, Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class and the Audi TT Roadster offer a higher degree of luxury and comfort, only the Porsche Boxster and its high-performance Boxster S, Spyder and Black Edition variants deliver the unadulterated driving pleasure that emphasizes the true meaning of what it takes to be a driver's car in today's automotive setting.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you've been yearning for a mid-engine roadster, but your budget begs to differ, the 2012 Porsche Boxster might be right up your alley. And as the least expensive car in Porsche's stable, Porsche admirers looking for the most affordable avenue into the brand will appreciate the Boxster's reasonable starting price.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If the Boxster's engineering formula is everything you desire in a sports car sans the drop-top roof, the marginally more expensive Porsche Cayman is the right car for you.
What's New for 2012
With an all-new 2013 model on the horizon, the Porsche Boxster receives minimal changes for the 2012 model year.
Typical of its inherent Porsche DNA, any Boxster model, from the base version to the lighter, more hardcore Spyder, delivers a typically sporting driving experience. Feedback through the steering wheel and chassis are about as good as it gets, and the seating position is excellent. Controls are deliberate and easily manageable, with the driver support systems like stability management and the available active suspension system providing minimally invasive corrections, but always there to assist should you overestimate your own driving talent. The brakes, too, are simply incredible across the range, and particularly so on the Boxster S and Boxster Spyder. The lightweight Spyder offers the most visceral and emotional Porsche driving experience this side of a 911 GT3, which costs nearly twice as much. Best of all, while they are undoubtedly sporting, the various Boxster variants offer perhaps the purest driving experience available in a new car today.
PDK AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
The available PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission is comprised of two separate manual gearboxes and clutches. With odd-numbered gears housed in one assembly and even-numbered gears in the other, Porsche's PDK transmission anticipates the next gear change based on driver input for virtually seamless acceleration.
DRY SUMP LUBRICATION
Conventional wet sump oil systems shift oil to one side of the engine during constant high-g maneuvers, hindering the oil pump's ability to sufficiently lubricate vital engine components. The Boxster's dry sump system utilizes a pressurized oil reservoir and a series of pumps that cycle oil to and from the engine for consistent lubrication regardless of extreme gravitational forces.
The Boxster's driver-focused cabin boasts a pair of heavily bolstered bucket seats along with a host of race-inspired instruments. The assortment of audio and climate controls feel unintuitive at first, but prolonged operation ultimately stimulates a muscle-memory response. Wind control is kept under wraps with the top-down, although top-up wind noise at highway speeds can drown out a conversation or music from the standard audio system. For this reason, we recommend the high-output, 10-speaker Bose premium sound system. Cargo space is surprisingly generous thanks to the Boxster's mid-engine design, which permits enough room for a trunk under the hood and behind the engine.
From its Carrera GT-like headlights to its timeless silhouette, the 2012 Boxster organically mixes contemporary roadster design with classic Porsche DNA. Dual center-mounted exhaust outlets and red-painted brake calipers help distinguish the Boxster S model from the standard version, while the Boxster Spyder's prominent rear deck fairings, revised taillights and distinctive beltline graphics produce a truly unique appearance. As is typical for Porsche, the 2012 Boxster offers a variety of standard and available wheel choices. The base model rides on 17-inch wheels, whereas stepping up to the Boxster S lands you a set of larger 18-inch alloys. Both the Spyder and Black Edition models receive a unique 19-inch split-spoke wheel design, with the Black Edition showcasing a – you guessed it – black paint finish.
Notable Standard Equipment
The 2012 Porsche Boxster comes with a 255-horsepower flat-6 engine, with the Boxster S, Boxster Spyder, and Boxster S Black Edition featuring an uprated 310-horsepower 3.4-liter engine (320 horsepower for the Boxster Spyder and Boxster S Black Edition). Non-Spyder models are equipped with a power canvas top and heated glass rear window, while the Boxster Spyder receives a small, manually-deployable soft top. Safety equipment includes six airbags with head-protection airbags housed within the doorsills along with roll hoops above the headrests for supplemental rollover protection.
Notable Optional Equipment
Individual options for the 2012 Boxster and Boxster S include Porsche's dual-mode Active Suspension Management, which automatically adjusts the damping force to each wheel based on current road conditions and driving style, rear parking sensors (which we highly recommend due to the sizable blind spot created by the soft top), and a mechanical limited-slip differential. All models offer Porsche's renowned 7-speed PDK automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. If track days and extensive canyon runs are your cup of tea, the Boxster S and Boxster Spyder can be outfitted with pricey, but extraordinarily versatile ceramic composite brakes.
Under the Hood
The 2012 Porsche Boxster's standard powerplant is a horizontally-opposed 2.9-liter engine that puts out 255-horsepower. The Boxster S sports a 310-horsepower 3.4-liter flat-6, while a modest retune ups the horsepower to 320 for the Boxster Spyder and Black Edition. All models are available with either a standard 6-speed manual transmission or the optional 7-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic.
255 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
214 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400-6,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 mpg (manual), 20/29 mpg (PDK automatic)
310 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
266 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400-5,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 mpg (manual), 20/29 mpg (PDK automatic)
320 horsepower @ 7,200 rpm
273 lb-ft of torque @ 4,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 mpg (manual), 19/26 mpg (manual, Black Edition), 20/29 mpg (PDK automatic)
The 2012 Porsche Boxster and Boxster S are priced at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of around $49,000 and $59,500, respectively. The Boxster Spyder begins at around $63,000, while the Boxster S Black Edition, limited to 987 examples, will set you back $66,000. Adding the dual-clutch PDK transmission to any of these adds another $3,420 to the bottom line. The BMW Z4 shares a similar starting price with the 2012 Boxster, though the Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class and the Audi TT Roadster undercut the Boxster by a few thousand dollars. To see what consumers in your area are actually paying for their 2012 Boxsters, take a look at KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price at the bottom of this page, 5-year projected resale values for the Porsche Boxster remain slightly higher than the SLK-Class and on par with the Z4 and the TT Roadster.