Porsche Boxster
(2012 - 2016)

  • Sublime driving experience
  • Most have been cared for
  • Excellent reputation for reliability
  • Genuinely comfortable for a
    performance car
  • Expensive part and labour costs
  • Cost of consumables can quickly add up
  • Not the most aggressive image
  • Many hot hatches are simply faster
Overview

With the Boxster representing the entry level for Porsche Sports cars, unfortunately, and no matter how critically acclaimed it may be, many consider a used Boxster to be the Porsche you buy when you can’t afford a “real” Porsche.

However, with how dynamically superb a Boxster is with its compact dimensions housing two perfectly positioned seats, combined with the drop top roof, glorious flat six engine mounted in the middle providing incredible balance and offering a choice of engines and transmissions sending power exclusively to the rear wheels, not to mention Porsches excellent reputation when it comes to reliability, it begs the question, the Boxster’s issues seem to revolve around certain consumers preconceived opinions rather than any inherent problem with the car itself.

If your strength of character can easily rise above the ridiculous and unfounded image discrepancies, it’s important to know that the Boxster has been available across four generations and in this cheat sheet, we’re going to be focussing on the third generation 981 available from 2012 to 2016.

Also the Boxster is ostensibly the soft top version of the Porsche Cayman and while much of what we’ll cover in this cheat sheet will also relate to the Cayman, the Cayman deserves its very own cheat sheet.

In terms of Boxster models, here in Australia, and excluding a special edition or two, you can have your 981 Boxster in primarily three flavours, the base spec 2.7-litre Boxster, the 3.4-litre Boxster S and the option laden Boxster S based GTS.

While the special editions here consisted of the purely aesthetically enhanced Black Edition and the utterly sublime lightweight high performance Spyder.

The Spyder features the 3.8-litre flat six from the 911 Carrera S and is so thoroughly drenched in bespoke and re-engineered go-fast bits, it pushes the notion that it even is a Boxster at all.

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What goes wrong

There are a few reports of faulty sensors and switches on the roof mechanism, resulting in the roof not working properly and a few 2013 models suffered from corrosion in the rear left wheel housing however, this was sorted under warranty and the roof issues are an easy fix.

Inside, there are some reports of failed condensers in the air conditioning unit which causes the gas to leak out faster than usual.

Some owners have complained that an incorrect “Electric Parking Brake fault” message will appear on the dash display even when there is no issue.

Also, some early 981’s had issues with the infotainment display glitching out of failing completely however, all these should have been resolved under warranty.

Mechanically the overall reliability of the engines is good with no one serious problem causing common catastrophic failures.

The 2.7-litre and 3.4-litre units do not suffer from the IMS (intermediate shaft) bearing issues seen in previous generations that have caused engine failures.

They do suffer from some oil leaks & coolant leaks like all modern high performance European cars, however no worse than the others.

Transmission wise, the manuals are tough with the clutch being the most common problem. That can often be attributed to operator technique and the PDK transmissions are….okay.

They are not as reliable as the manual though and occasionally there can be internal position sensor glitches, hydraulic complications, dual mass flywheel and clutch failures.

Typically though, all PDK issues are expensive to fix. Some owners only complain about harsh shifting and shuddering, which in most cases can be improved by servicing or software updates.

Servicing and repair costs are significantly more expensive than most other cars and not just because parts are more expensive it’s also because everything is hard to access.

For example, you don’t just lift the bonnet and there is everything you need. There are complicated roof service position procedures so you can then remove the carpet & trim. This allows you to unbolt the cover to access the top of the engine. However, if you need to change an alternator or belt tensioner, there’s also a separate front engine cover. Even then, if you want to access the air filters you’ll need to remove all of the carpet and covers from within the rear boot. Overall, packaging can result in long labour times which will therefore, cost money.

Also the brakes do wear quickly, especially if you drive the Boxster in the way it was designed to be driven and suspension components, like lower control arm bushes for example, will all need replacing every 40,000kms to 60,000kms.

If you hear a terrible squeaky rubbing sound coming from under the front of the car somewhere and you can’t find where its coming from, have your mechanic check the foam insulation on the top of the fuel tank.

Model range, pricing & features

Boxster

  • Price when new: $101,500 - $168,600
  • Price used: $70,000 - $110,000

Released in July 2012, the 981 Boxster came as a 2-door convertible sporting a 2.7 litre flat six engine paired to either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Boxster models had already featured a large amount of standard equipment from 6-airbags, rear parking sensors, cruise control, automatic headlights, daytime running lights, electromechanical handbrake, 7.0-inch infotainment system with 7-speakers, 6-disc in-dash CD player, satellite navigation and sports seats with leather upholstery.

As with most Porsches, there is an array of optional equipment that could be added at the time, and so it is important to check with the owner on which (if any) optional equipment is fitted to the vehicle.

Standard features:

18-inch alloy wheels
Body coloured bumper bars
Body coloured side mirrors
Stop/start system
Drive mode selector
Electric sterring system
Driver and front passenger airbags
Front side airbags
Head-protecting airbags
3-point (lap sash) seatbelt for all occupants
Seat pretensioners and load limiters for for all passengers
Seatbelt reminder for all seats
Headrests for driver and front passenger
Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
Electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD)
Brake assist
Electronic stability program (ESP)
Traction control
Rear parking sensors
Rear vision mirror
Electric side mirrors
Heated side mirrors
Electric windows – front only with auto up/down function for all windows
Cruise control
Projector headlights
Front fog lights
Automatic headlights
Daytime running lights (DRL)
Intermittent wipers with speed settings
Remote central locking
Engine immobiliser
Proximity alarm
Tachometer
Fuel gauge
Trip computer
Electro-mechnical handbrake
Steering wheel – electrically adjustable
Leather steering wheel
Leather gear knob
Dual-zone climate control
Sports seats
Leather upholstery
Seat heating: driver and front passenger
2-way electric adjustment of the front seats
7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system
7-speaker sound system
AM/FM radio
6-disc in-dash CD player
MP3 compatibility
Bluetooth connectivity – phone and audio streaming
Satellite navigation
AUX (3.5mm) input
iPod connectivity
USB connectivity
12V power outlet
Centre console storage
Glovebox
Vanity mirror for driver and front passenger

2015 updates:

Multi-functional sports leather steering wheel
Front parking sensors
14-way electrically adjustable front seats

Black Edition

  • Price when new: $110,400 - $115,790
  • Price used: $75,000 - $110,000

The Black Edition was a limited edition model based on the Boxster and had the same 2.7 litre flat six engine, released in May 2015.

In addition to the Boxster, the Black Edition added 20-inch Carrera Classic Alloy Wheels, Bi-Xenon headlights, Porsche’s dyanmic light system, black edition logos, black-painted rollover bar, electrochromatic rear view mirror, auto-dimming side mirrors, sports steering wheel and embossed Porsche logo on the headrests.

Additional features:

20-inch Carrera Classic alloy wheels
Bi-Xenon headlights
Porsche dynamic light system (PDLS)
Black Edition logos on exterior and door guards
Black-painted rollover bar
Electrochromatic rear view mirror
Auto-dimming side mirrors
Sports steering wheel
Embossed Porsche crest on headrests

S

  • Price when new: $126,500 - $138,600
  • Price used: $90,000 - $120,000

The Boxster S was released at the same time as the Boxster and features a 3.4 litre flat six engine mated either to a 6-speed manual or 7-speed DCT gearbox and adds 19-inch alloy wheels and bi-xenon headlights over the standard Boxster model.

Additional features:

19-inch alloy wheels
Bi-xenon headlights”

GTS

  • Price when new: $145,500 - $154,490
  • Price used: $95,000 - $140,000

The GTS was released in Australia in July 2014, with primary mechanical differences being the “D” variant of the MA123 3.4 litre flat six engine used in the Boxster, thus generating more 9kW more power and 10Nm more torque over the S model.

Equipment additions over the S model include 20-inch alloy wheels, unique front spoiler design, black finish bi-xenon headlights, Porsche’s Dynanmic Light System (PDLS), lower rear apron, sports exhaust system, Sport Chrono package with dynamic gearbox mounts, tyre pressure monitoring system, a SportDesign steering wheel and Sports seats Plus.

Additional features:

20-inch alloy wheels
Unique front spoiler design
Black finish bi-xenon headlights
Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS)
Black gloss rear lettering
Lower rear apron
Sports exhaust system
Dynamic gearbox mounts
Tyre pressure monitoring system
Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM)
Sport Corono package
SportDesign steering wheel
Sports seats Plus

Spyder

  • Price when new: $168,600
  • Price used: $115,500 - $165,000

Introduced in the third quarter of 2015, the Spyder model was powered by a 3.8 litre flat six engine available solely with a six speed manual transmission.

Compared to the standard Boxster, the Spyder had a 20mm lower ride height, direct steering and brakes from the 911 Carrera and sports bucket seats.

Additional features:

20mm lower ride height
Performance brakes
Sports bucket seats

Should you buy it?

Simply, yes, yes you should.

Obviously avoid any abused examples and it is absolutely critical you have a pre-purchase inspection carried out but about the only reason you wouldn’t buy a Boxster is if you cannot afford the upkeep and running costs or simply don’t have the self esteem to rise above the Boxster’s image issues.

Besides that, an excellent condition 981 Boxster, in any trim spec, is still a truly spectacular car.

Some may argue that a BMW Z4 or even Audi TT provide a similar set of skills for less money or a Mazda MX-5 Miata could save you tens of thousands of dollars but, as excellent as those cars are, the Boxster is in a whole other league.

Warranty & servicing

Warranty:

3 years/unlimited kms

Servicing:

12 months/15,000kms

Tech specs

Body style:

2-door convertible

Engines:

2.7 litre flat-six engine (Boxster, Black Edition)
3.4 litre flat-six engine (S, GTS)
3.8 litre flat-six engine (Spyder)

Power:

195kW – 2.7 litre flat-six engine (Boxster, Black Edition)
232kW – 3.4 litre flat-six engine (S)
243kW – 3.4 litre flat-six engine (GTS)
276kW – 3.8 litre flat-six engine (Spyder)

Torque:

280Nm – 2.7 litre flat-six engine (Boxster, Black Edition)
360Nm – 3.4 litre flat-six engine (S)
370Nm – 3.4 litre flat-six engine (GTS)
420Nm – 3.8 litre flat-six engine (Spyder)

Transmission & drivetrains:

6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive (RWD) – (Boxster, Black Edition, S, GTS, Spyder)
7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT), rear-wheel drive – Boxster, Black Edition, S, GTS

Fuel consumption:

7.9-9.9L/100km

Length:

4374-4414mm

Width:

1801mm

Height:

1262-1282mm

Kerb weight:

1315-1330kg

Disclaimer

Information correct as of November 18, 2022.

The advice provided on this website is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

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