2013’s The Good 12 – Porsche Boxster S – $60,000-$70,000

PORSCHE BOXSTER S

With 9.9 cubic feet of cargo volume, the Porsche Boxster S is a minivan among two-seat roadsters. Its capacity to haul your weekend getaway luggage is 13% better than what you’ll find in an Audi TT, 24% better than what the BMW Z4 can carry, 87% better than what Mazda’s MX-5 Miata will lug. Only the Mercedes-Benz SLK, obviously a genuine Ford Expedition rival, outperforms the Boxster S in the trunk department.

The Good 12 2013 logoThe SLK55 AMG, one of the most fuel efficient V8-engined cars on the market, is a startlingly quick machine. Its retractable hardtop is convenient and secure. And at $67,990, it costs less than a Boxster S that’s equipped with optional wheels, paint, and seats. (The basic Boxster S does have wheels, paint, and seats, but you won’t want them – no Porsche owner worth his salt avoids the option sheet.)

However, the SLK55 AMG is a front-engined roadster in a front-engined world. The Boxster S, like all the great $250,000 supercars of our day, is a mid-engined car. Placing the engine between the axles improves balance. The 3.4L engine has its cylinders arranged horizontally. Boxer engines are always able to rest lower in the chassis. Moreover, the Boxster S weighs 14% less than the Audi TTS Roadster, 18% less than the BMW Z4 sDrive35is, and 19% less than the SLK55 AMG.

Thus, the lightweight car has the optimal engine placement and the advantageous cylinder arrangement.

But like the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid owner who tells you he bought his SUV for the fuel economy, you can tell all your 3-Series-driving friends you bought your Boxster for its trunks.

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Engine: 315 horsepower; 266 lb-ft of torque from a horizontally-opposed 3.4L six-cylinder

Base USD/CAD Price: $60,900 / $69,500

City Fuel Economy: 20-21 miles per gallon

It’s Not Perfect: It pretty much is perfect. If we had to find fault it would be with the Boxster’s weight gain. The S now weighs approximately 80 pounds less than the outgoing model, but nearly 6% more than the original Boxster from 1997. Weight is the chief enemy of any sports car (besides the Mercedes-Benz SLK) so it would be nice if the Boxster S could shed a few pounds. Another Boxster Spyder maybe?

Sales Stats: The Boxster range hit a rough patch last year that extended into 2012 as the second-generation car aged and became rare on dealer lots. Now that the new 981 Boxster is here, sales have perked up. But, at least in the United States, Porsche isn’t about to return to the Boxster’s glory days. A decade ago, Porsche sold nearly 10,000 Boxsters in the America. Boxster volume in America hasn’t topped 5000 units since 2005.

Viable Alternatives: In the absence of the Boxster, it’s not as though you’d be disappointed with an Audi TTRS or BMW Z4.