By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 7.9
Even in its final year before an all-new version arrives, the 2016 Porsche Boxster remains an excellent-driving convertible. At just over $50,000, the Boxster is also the least expensive drop-top from the legendary German sports-car maker. As the last of the current-gen models to come standard with a 6-cylinder engine, the 2016 Boxster goes out on a high note with the Spyder, powered by a 911-derived 3.8-liter. But even a base Boxster is a dynamic machine that's as adept at screaming around corners as it is loafing top-down. The Boxster doesn't offer the practicality and security of a retracting hardtop like the Mercedes-Benz SLK and BMW Z4, or the all-wheel-drive traction of an Audi TT, but it hits the sport/comfort equation as only Porsche can.
Whether you desire a Boxster for its excellent performance-to-value ratio or the mere fact that it wears a Porsche badge, you'll be equally pleased. It's happy to be a weekend toy or a performance machine, especially if you step up to the more powerful Boxster S, GTS or Spyder variants.
With their retractable hardtops, the Mercedes-Benz SLK and BMW Z4 are better cold-weather companions, as is the all-wheel-drive Audi TT. If you want the latest and greatest Boxster, stay tuned for the more sophisticated 2017 Boxster. Dubbed the 718, it will use a powerful yet efficient turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.
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In the final year of its current generation, the Porsche Boxster is available as a Spyder. Boasting a 375-horsepower engine and $83,000 price tag, it is fast and exclusive. Also new is the Boxster Black Edition, with dark accents, 20-inch Carrera Classic wheels and amenities like heated seats, navigation system and upgraded audio system.
In addition to its relative affordability, part of the Boxster's success is that regular Joes and Janes can feel like champs driving it. These days, the base Boxster's 265 horsepower...
... isn't astounding, but sheer power isn't what this convertible Porsche is about. The Boxster's excellence lies in synergies: the crispness of its transmission, the directness of its steering and the wail of its flat-6 engine. The Boxster can make good drivers great, and great ones heroes. Step up to the S with its 315 horsepower and sub-5-second 0-60-mph bursts, and your pulse will quicken in step. The GTS has only 15 more horsepower, but boasts sharper manners thanks to features like torque vectoring and an active suspension system. The new 2016 Boxster Spyder, meanwhile, is an absolute howl. As the fastest and most distinctive Boxster, it's a pricey car for purists, evidenced by it being available only with a manual transmission.
QUICK FOLDING TOP
The beauty of a soft top is that it not only weighs less than a hardtop, it folds faster. In just nine seconds the 2016 Boxster will have the wind in your hair and sun in your face. Even better, the Boxster’s roof can be operated at speeds up to 31 mph.
SPORT CHRONO PACKAGE
Order your 2016 Boxster roadster with Porsche's excellent 7-speed PDK automatic transmission, and you can opt for the Sport Chrono Package. Along with adding a Sport Plus button to tighten the suspension settings and hold gears longer, the package includes a cool analog/digital stopwatch in the dash.
Elegance and intent meet inside the Boxster's 2-passenger cabin. Considering its roadster design and the car's performance-oriented nature, the Boxster is quite livable. It's surprisingly quiet with the fabric top folded, and triumphantly alive with it down. There is adequate room for two adults, and though many small buttons and switches fill the console and transmission housing, all are intuitive. Their lettering is small, though, so we suggest study before starting. A 7-inch touch screen relays infotainment functions, and there are even cupholders that swing out above the glove compartment for those who will bear liquids in their sports car.
Porsche’s Boxster boasts more angles than a geometry lesson. Not surprisingly, the Boxster is at its best with the top down, but even with the fabric roof in position, this roadster draws attention. Among the more prominent features are sculpted side sills that direct air to the engine bay. The new Boxster Spyder stands out from the rest with a pair of beautiful "streamliners" that bulge beyond the seats and taper to the rear. Also, the Spyder's fabric top is manually operated. It isn't nearly as shapely when in place as the standard Boxster -- just another reason to leave it topless.
Other than the fact that the base Porsche Boxster sport seats are manually adjustable for height and fore/aft positioning (the seatback recline adjustment is electric) in a world where most luxury makers go all-electric, the 2016 Boxster comes well-equipped right out of the box. The power-folding roof features a heated glass window, and the HomeLink garage door opener means you'll never have to dig for that transponder. The standard 50-watt audio system has four speakers and is controlled via a 7-inch-color touch screen. Base Boxsters come with 18-inch wheels, S models have 19s, and GTS and Spyder models ride on 20-inchers.
From a torque-vectoring rear differential to ventilated seats and a navigation system, there are myriad ways to make your Boxster quicker, more comfortable, or more technologically advanced. Premium audio systems are available, and an electronic logbook can record every trip for posterity or recordkeeping. We're fans of the wood package and matching heated, mahogany steering wheel. The most performance-minded will be interested in the carbon-ceramic brakes, a $7,000-plus feature alone. And there is, of course, that excellent 7-speed automatic transmission. The Boxster Spyder is so purist-focused that a radio and air conditioning are considered options, but at least they're no-cost ones.
The 2016 Porsche Boxster is the last of this model to be fitted standard with a naturally aspirated 6-cylinder. Base versions use a 2.7-liter flat-6 that puts out 265 horsepower, enabling the roadster to leap from zero to 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds. The Boxster S features a more powerful 3.4-liter flat-6 with 315 horsepower, lowering that acceleration benchmark to a rapid 4.8 seconds. The GTS adds another 15 horsepower. The new pinnacle of Boxsters is the Spyder, which uses a 3.8-liter flat-6 that puts out 375 horsepower and enables 0-60-mph blasts in 4.3 seconds. All engines are mounted midship and send power to the rear wheels. The standard transmission is a 6-speed manual, with the 7-speed PDK automatic optional on all models except the Spyder.
2.7-liter flat-6 (Boxster)
265 horsepower @ 6,700 rpm
206 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500-6,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/30 mpg (manual), 22/32 mpg (automatic)
3.4-liter flat-6 (Boxster S)
315 horsepower @ 6,700 rpm
266 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500-5,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg (manual), 21/30 mpg (automatic)
3.4-liter flat-6 (Boxster GTS)
330 horsepower @ 6,700 rpm
273 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500-5,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 mpg (manual), 22/31 mpg (automatic)
3.8-liter flat-6 (Boxster Spyder)
375 horsepower @ 6,700 rpm
309 lb-ft of torque @ 4,750-6,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/24 mpg
The 2016 Porsche Boxster has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at just over $53,000. Step up to the more powerful Boxster S, and the price tag zooms to nearly $65,000, while the GTS tops $75,000. The new 2016 Boxster Spyder starts over $83,000. Ladle on options, and your bottom line can swell by tens of thousands of dollars. At its starting price, the Porsche Boxster is several thousand dollars higher than that of the Mercedes-Benz SLK, Audi TT roadster and BMW Z4, but below the Jaguar’s brilliant F-Type, which starts around $66,000. To find out what others in your area are paying for the Boxster, check out KBB.com’s Fair Purchase Price. Similar to its hardtop sibling the Cayman, the Porsche Boxster's resale value has traditionally held up very well.