- The Washington Times - Friday, May 9, 2003

The Porsche Boxster name was derived from the flat-opposed “boxer” engine and its roadster configuration. It competes in the marketplace with the likes of Audi’s TT roadster, BMW’s Z4, the Honda S2000 and the Mercedes-Benz SLK, at least in its presentation format of a two-seat convertible roadster.

The Boxster is available in two models: Boxster and Boxster S.

Both are rear-wheel drive and are powered by flat horizontally opposed (“boxer”) six-cylinder engines mounted in the middle — the base or regular model Boxster draws its energy from a 2.7-liter engine while the high end Boxster “S” moves out, courtesy of a 3.2-liter variant that produces 8 more horsepower than last year’s model, for a total of 258.

On the manual side, the Boxster offers a five-speed gearbox to handle gear changes, while the “S” adds a sixth gear at the top end.

The Boxster S features sport-tuned suspension and allows for an 18-inch wheel and tire option. Brakes on the S are larger too, to effectively rein in the additional power generated.

The Boxster S still comes with a base price of $51,600, even with improvements.

The price escalates as options are added — things such as: metallic exterior finishes, the Sport Package, larger wheels and tires and the Porsche stability management system (PSM).

The bottom line for the test Boxster S, finished in Lapis Blue metallic, with Graphite Grey and Metropol Blue partial leather interior, rang up $57,905 at the register.

The Boxster S is generously outfitted with standard equipment and features.

There are a host of options available with which to personalize one’s Boxster or Boxster S.

Exclusive options available for the Boxster S include custom interior trim packages as well as individual trim items; supplemental safety bars painted in body color or silver; full power-adjustable seats with driver’s-side memory function; and a removable aluminum hardtop with a glass rear window and defroster and roof transport system to cite a few. A Bose audio system is an available option for all models.

Visual appeal has been enhanced for both the Boxster and Boxster S, with distinctive differences between the two. The “S” rides on larger wheels — with their own distinct design — and tires, sports a third front air intake and comes with unique red-painted brake calipers. Titanium color highlights the front air-intake bars, windshield trim and rear window trim on the optional aluminum hardtop. A Boxster S badge appears on the rear trunk lid and a twin-tailpipe exhaust outlet replaces the Boxster’s single oval outlet.

Gauges also differ on “S” models, finished in aluminum-look trim accents.

A lighted and locking glove box is a plus feature as is the relocation of the HVAC controls from the console to the dash.

The Boxster first bowed in 1998 and has continually improved. The design recalls elements from such Porsche legends as the 550 Spyder of the 1950s and RSKs of the 1960s.

The Porsche Boxster for 2003 continues to share significant traits with its predecessors — being extremely well balanced with its midengine platform, visually dynamic in its appeal with the soft convertible top up or down (or with the aluminum hardtop in place or removed) and most of all, it is exhilarating to drive.

In other words, it looks good, sounds good and feels good — standing still or at speed. The top has been improved, rear spoiler revised, the front and rear fascias positively restyled and the mechanicals favorably enhanced.

What ‘s more fun than to drive the new Porsche Boxster in a spirited manner? To drive the new Boxster “S” of course. It simply doesn’t get much better in this price range. The Boxster is fast. The Boxster “S” is faster.

The Boxster “S” also has longer legs in terms of gear reach — when driving the Boxster at track speed, I found myself frequently hitting the rev limiter, where the “S” doesn’t suffer the same problem. In addition to being faster at the top end, the “S” is also quicker in getting there.

Because of the larger wheels and tires on the Boxster “S” that I tested, coupled with the sport-tuned suspension, the ride is firm — not objectionable, mind you, but firm. Braking capability is superb, and the PSM covers you admirably, should you become overzealous traversing wildly curvy roads. Most drivers will likely reach their limit before the car does.

Both Boxsters are well worth their respective price. The Boxster is a terrific driving machine. The Boxster “S” is quite simply put, a phenomenal machine to drive.

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