The Porsche 986 Boxster at a glance
In the shadow of the Porsche 911
The Porsche Boxster has been a constant in the Stuttgart-based product portfolio for 25 years now. Once decried as a housewives Porsche, in the 1990s it hardly reminded any car fan of the mid-engine ancestors 356/1 and 550 Spyder, just as the Porsche marketing department had actually thought.
But the ridiculed roadster, which was always overshadowed by the nine-eleven, became a serious sports car over the years and the first Boxster generation 986, built from 1996 to 2004, doesn’t need to hide in terms of driving dynamics.
Small six-cylinders ensure sufficient propulsion
The Porsche Museum kindly lent us this 986 from 2000 with the already larger 2.7-liter six-cylinder and 220 hp for test drives. In previous years, a slightly smaller 2.5-liter boxer with 204 hp provided propulsion. Regardless of the basic Boxster, the performance is more than sufficient for the mid-engine sports car, and the fuel consumption of around 12 liters is still moderate.
It never occurred to us that we would have been underpowered in the country – despite the built-in 5-speed Tiptronic. It grabs a bit of temperament from the wonderfully unadulterated sounding engine, but the gear steps are still quickly passed in for an automatic transmission from the 1990s, which certainly not every converter could do at the time.
986 Boxster is a real Porsche
Otherwise, the 986 Boxster also knows how to come up with the usual Porsche virtues. The chassis is designed to be sporty and taut, but not uncomfortable. The steering is direct and communicative, but the height of the valance can only be adjusted to a very limited extent. Overall, the 986 is a very active car, which the driver can always feel its mid-engine layout and, thanks to its balanced weight distribution, has extremely neutral steering behavior.
Those who do not overdo it on the home route will hardly be embarrassed that the PSM, which was optional at the time, begins to regulate. Headless sports car fans who want to prove their skills with deactivated control systems, especially in the wet, should be aware that even a basic Boxster can sometimes become a bitchy mid-engine fury.
Light and shadow – the interior
A surprise in the interior: the often criticized, cheap plastics of the first Boxster generation remain knock-proof even after more than 20 years, but the appearance and workmanship are solid. Of course, the cockpit presentation also depends on how the first owner configured his car.
Often the Boxster was not, or at least less, spared than comparable old nine-eleven. Vehicles that were used as first vehicles for many years (even in winter) sometimes show significant signs of wear. Neuralgic points here are the operating parts, elements made of leather and of course the fabric hood with its plastic rear window.
You won’t find any storage space in the 986. In response to popular requests, a glove compartment was not handed over until model year 2003, the two trunk compartments together hold a manageable 250 liters of luggage. The sitting position is almost too high for tall people beyond 1.90 meters, so it doesn’t just wind around the head. The sports chairs themselves are comfortable, however, and getting on and off is possible without wild contortions.
Market situation, price and conclusion
The Porsche Boxster (986) has an interesting future ahead of it. Not only did it mark the affordable entry into the Porsche world in the 1990s, it is (still) cheaper today than comparable Porsche 911s from that time. Its driving performance can keep up with that of a 911, but the sometimes capricious engine technology remains its biggest drawback. The stock of good vehicles is constantly decreasing, which also keeps prices at a stable level. For well-maintained models – depending on the year of construction, condition and equipment – interested parties still have to spend between 11,500 and 20,000 euros. (Text: tv, fm | Images: tv)