2011 Automobile Magazine All-Stars

The Editors of Automobile Magazine
Daniel Strolle

Porsche Boxster/Cayman

In its rookie season -- 1998 -- the Porsche Boxster won our coveted Automobile of the Year award; we described it as "utterly communicative" and the "essence of sports car." The first-generation Boxster went on to make our All-Star team three times, and the current model has now gotten the nod five times in six years. Needless to say, we love this car.

We didn't think we could possibly adore the Boxster more until Porsche dressed it in a sexy hardtop body, creating the Cayman coupe in 2006. Perhaps the only problem with Porsche's pair of mid-engine marvels is that it's hard to pick a favorite. The Boxster is an all-seasons convertible sports car beyond compare; the striking Cayman entices you to pay an extra few thousand dollars to fully immerse yourself in its sweet motor music. We've carefully avoided this tough decision by making the Boxster and Cayman share their All-Star awards in recent years.

Since the Cayman's release, 25 percent more buyers have chosen the coupe than the convertible, although Porsche purists ensure that the archetypal 911 still handily outsells both "entry-level" Porsches. Not that $48,550 (or more than double that if you go wild with options) is chump change. But perfection doesn't come cheap, as numerous staff members noted after driving a Cayman S at GingerMan Raceway: "All controls are perfection." "Ride and handling balance is perfect." "Perfect -- don't change a thing."

Wherever one drives a mid-engine Porsche, it truly feels as if it's an extension of your body. The brand-new Boxster Spyder, with its lower curb weight, stiffer suspension, and manual top, enhances that feeling. The spartan treatment isn't necessary, though. Indeed, it's easy to imagine that any Boxster or Cayman would still handle superbly with flat, bald winter tires and the two luggage compartments filled with bricks. As worthy competitors such as the Chevrolet Corvette, the Lotus Elise, and the BMW Z4 have come and gone from our All-Stars roster, the Boxster and Cayman have continued to sweep us off our feet.

Ain't love grand?
- Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

BASE PRICE RANGE: $48,550-$67,250
ENGINES: 2.9L flat-6, 255/265 hp, 214/221 lb-ft; 3.4L flat-6, 310/320/330 hp, 266/273 lb-ft

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