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The mid-engine Porsche Boxster roadster, known to aficionados as the 981, is in the fourth year of its second generation. A third-generation Boxster called the 718 has been scheduled by Porsche to be introduced June 2016 for the 2017 model year. Until the 2017 model arrives, the 2016 Boxster will be available.
The Boxster was a hit right out of the box that was first opened nearly 20 years ago, not only for its mechanical virtues but for its value. Other Porsche models might be more spectacular, but their price tags are too. The Boxster has all the right Porsche stuff, in fact some would say the best Porsche stuff, because it’s so solid, handsome, simple, and trouble-free. There are no downsides to the Boxster. It’s powerful yet easy to drive, and has a comfortable ride while delivering track-worthy handling. It succeeds by not trying to be spectacular.
For 2016, there are two basic Boxsters, plus the variants. The standard Boxster engine is a 2.7-liter flat six-cylinder making 265 horsepower and sending the car to 60 miles per hour in 5.2 seconds, up to a top speed of 164 mph. The Boxster S pokes that engine out to 3.4 liters and pumps it up to 315 horsepower, cuts the 0-60 time to 4.8 seconds, and raises the speed to 178 mph.
Then come the variants. The Boxster GTS adds 15 horsepower, along with some equipment that’s optional on the Boxster S, plus its own front and rear fascia and interior.
For 2016, the Spyder is brought back by popular demand from super enthusiasts who hang out at track days. It’s given a 3.8-liter engine making 375 horsepower, lowered one inch, and, to shed 66 pounds, stripped of all creature comforts such as air conditioning, insulation and a sound system, while using more lightweight materials like aluminum, magnesium, and polymer plastics. Total weight is 2899 pounds. More power and less weight drops the 0-60 time to 4.3 seconds and raises the top speed to 180 mph. It has a manual top, and when it’s down, the Spyder is easily identifiable by its aerodynamic fairing-like head supports that so wonderfully recall the Spyder of the 1950s and ’60s.
The standard transmission in the Boxster is a 6-speed manual gearbox, but a twin-clutch 7-speed paddle-shifting automatic/manual is available. It’s called PDK, or Porsche Doppelkupplung, and was developed for racing.
The PDK is an efficient transmission, enabling two more miles per gallon than the 6-speed manual. With the 2.7-liter engine and the PDK, the Boxster is EPA-rated at 22/32 mpg City/Highway, while the Boxster S with the 3.4-liter version brings 21/30 mpg. Even though the Spyder is the lightest, because it has the biggest engine, it gets the worst mileage at 18/24 mpg. But who cares? At the track you just fill it up when it runs dry, hand over the cash for high octane, and strap on your helmet.