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2012 Porsche Boxster 2.7 review

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We sample the entry-level, 2.7-litre Porsche Boxster on UK roads. Is the more refined mk3 still fun?

2012 Porsche Boxster 2.7 front static

What is it?
 
The new, third-generation Porsche Boxster in its entry-level trim. It uses a 2.7-litre flat-six engine and costs from £37,589. If you like your nerdy model codes, this is the 981 Boxster (replacing the 987).
 
Technical highlights?
 
The engine is smaller than the 2.9 used in the outgoing base Boxster, but is pretty much as powerful – 261bhp and 206lb ft outputs represent a 9bhp rise and 8lb ft drop – while being a good chunk cleaner, CO2 emissions falling to 192g/km (180g/km if you spec the PDK twin-clutch gearbox) and the claimed fuel economy topping 36mpg.
 
Dynamic options include carbon ceramic brakes, active suspension management and ‘power steering plus’, but we’d keep things relatively simple. PTV – Porsche torque vectoring – includes a mechanical limited-slip diff while the £1473 sports exhaust system seems pricey, but does sound excellent.
 
What’s it like to drive?
 
The fitment of stop/start and electro-mechanical power steering tell you a lot about how the Boxster has transformed compared to the mk2. Like the 991-generation Porsche 911, it’s a more rounded and environmentally conscious version of what’s gone before, and it immediately feels more refined and easy to get along with. But that doesn’t mean it’s not fun.
 
Its fine mid-engine, rear-drive balance makes for a car you can confidently drive quickly from the off, and unless you kill the electronic driver aids, it feels next to foolproof. Grip from its 265-section rear tyres is abundant, and the 2.7-litre engine – which provides brisk rather than brutal pace – rarely troubles them. You need to keep the flat-six on the boil and its revs high for this base Boxster to feel fast, but that’s hardly a chore. Something especially true with the sweet six-speed manual of our test car fitted  – it’s better than the 911’s seven-speed transmission, and remains our choice over PDK’s slightly cold sophistication.
 
How does it compare?
 
As an all-round proposition, the Porsche Boxster is still very hard to beat. A comparable Audi TT Roadster, BMW Z4 or Mercedes SLK isn’t anywhere near as fun, while the Nissan 370Z Roadster and supercharged Lotus Elise S – two cracking rear-drive rivals – are far from as polished, the latter especially requiring practical sacrifices the Boxster doesn’t even know about. Closer to home, the 311bhp, 3.4-litre Boxster S starts at £45,384.
 
Anything else I need to know?
 
As you might expect, 37 grand buys you a pretty barren Boxster, with feverish options box ticking no doubt encouraged by your friendly local dealer. We managed to spec one past £73,000 on the online configurator…

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evo RATING

 
[+]
The Boxster's still brilliant
[-]
Even though the steering's electric

evo SPECIFICATIONS

 
Engine: Flat-six, 2706cc
Max power: 261bhp @ 6700rpm
Max torque: 206lb ft @ 4500rpm
0 - 60mph: 5.8sec (claimed 0-62)
Top speed: 163mph
Price: £37,589
On Sale: Now

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