Porsche Boxster roadster and Cayman coupe both come from the highly regarded German maker of sports machines, being smaller, lower-cost models than the timeless Porsche 911.
They are the same vehicle, except that there’s a folding roof on the Boxster and a fixed one in the Cayman. Boxster’s roof design is clever, in that the roof acts as its own cover when the top is open.
Both are mid-engined, meaning the engine is installed within the wheelbase, in this case just behind the cabin and in front of the rear wheels. The engine positions means they are two-seaters.
These pure sports machine delight in being pushed hard and fast. Their engines are responsive, the gearbox is a delight to use, road grip is very high and the feel through the steering wheel and the seat of the pants is makes them easy to control – up to a point.
As the engine is within the wheelbase these Porsche twins don’t have the tail-happy characteristics of the 911. If they are pushed too hard into corners the mid-engined machined can still let go fairly quickly.
Electronic aids can save you unless have been way-too ambitious and can be detuned should you wish to make your own decisions, such as for track days.
Shoulder room is good and unless you’re very tall in the body you will pretty well be protected from wind buffeting with the Boxster’s roof open.
The Boxster and Cayman are surprisingly practical for their class having luggage compartments front and rear. So they can work as daily drivers, even for holiday trips if can travel relatively lightly.
The Boxster arrived in Australia in January 1997, the Cayman didn’t get here until 2006 and was based on the gen-two Boxster. These older models are getting on in years so we will concentrate on the third generation, the Boxster 981 series that arrived here in June 2012. Cayman was almost a year behind it, May 2013.
Though the 981 series are slightly larger than the gen-two models they are lighter thanks to advances in structural design and the use of quite a bit of aluminium in the body..
Porsche made major changes to the 981series in June 2016. They kept the 981 model number but were renamed the cars the 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman. The ‘718’ is in recognition of the Porsche 718 sportscars that were victorious in races during the 1950s and ‘60s. It also ties in with the title of the Porsche 918 Spyder hybrid supercar.
Though not all-new, the Porsche 718 models do have new engines, significantly revised styling and retuned suspension and steering.
Power for the Cayman and Boxster originally came from a 2.7-litre flat-six or a 3.4-litre flat-six. Unfortunately they could not meet ever tightening emission reduction regulations.
So there were major changes in the 2016 718 Boxster and Cayman are fitted with turbocharged flat-four engine with capacities of 2.0 and 2.5 litres replaced the naturally-aspirated flat sixes.
Though without the near-instantaneous response of the sixes the flat-fours are still pretty good, and once you do get the turbos up and providing full boost they are stunning units. Note that the 2.5-litre has the advantage of variable turbo geometry so is even faster on the uptake than the 2.0.
Insurance ratings are generally moderate for a high-performance car. However, if you’ve a poor claims history and/or a poor driving record prices can increase dramatically.
A Porsche Boxster that’s always been serviced and repaired by an official dealer is relatively common and is the one to aim for. You probably be asked to pay more because of its history, but it’s money well spent.
Porsche is well established in Australia. The dealer network isn’t huge, but is well organised and we have head of no real complaints.
Some former Porsche dealer mechanics now operate independently and are well regarded by Porsche owners we speak to.
Spare parts aren’t cheap, but not outrageous for what you get.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
A six-cylinder engine should start easily, idle smoothly virtually from the moment it kicks over and have throttle response that’s all-but instantaneous.
Four-cylinder units may not be quite as smooth as sixes at idle, and there may be a slight delay on the throttle.
A manual gearbox should be light and easy to use.
Dual-clutch autos should be smooth and fast. Some are rather too touchy at very low speeds, particularly when parking. Check this on your test drive.
Heavy operation of the clutch is likely to mean it’s due for an overhaul. Not a complex job, but there are no cheap repairs on cars like this.
Look for severe tyre wear, heavy brake dust buildup on the wheels and suspension
Rust is very unusual and almost certainly means the car has been badly repaired after a crash.
Check the cabin and luggage areas for signs of harsh treatment.
Look under the floor mats for signs of dampness caused by a Boxster being caught out in the rain.
Repairs to the body may be minor – or major. In either case have a professional check it out, preferably in a workshop that can do alignment measurements.
Expect to pay from $28,000 to $39,000 for a 2012 Porsche Boxster; $42,000 to $55,000 for a 2013 Boxster; $46,000 to $61,000 for a 2012 Cayman S; $53,000 to $70,000 for a 2013 Boxster GTS; $62,000 to $83,000 for a 2014 Cayman GTS; $68,000 to $89,000 for a 2015 GTS; $72,000 to $98,000 for a 2015 Cayman GTS; $93,000 to $126,000 for a 2016 Boxster Spyder; and $103,000 to $139,000 for a 2018 Boxster Spyder.
CAR BUYING TIP
Sportscars that are actually driven in sport – that is, racing – are rare. But plenty take part in traffic light grand prix. Check for rubber buildup inside the arches of the driven wheels.