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Porsche Boxster

Georg KacherwritersGlenn Paulinaphotographers

When the Boxster debuted in 1996 as a '97 model, it replaced the 968 as Porsche's entry-level offering. With its mid-engine layout-one of the first in a Porsche road car-the Boxster was revolutionary compared with its conservative, front-engined rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Although the Boxster was launched with an underendowed yet charismatic 201-hp, 2.5-liter flat six, the car was short on weight and long on tactility, like the 911 with which it shared its essential DNA. It was hard to imagine a Porsche that could eclipse the 911 in terms of turn-in promptness, brake balance, and feedback at the limit, but the Boxster managed to do just that, although its breakaway behavior was initially almost as vicious. The 1999 Boxster S fixed the performance and torque deficit with a bigger-bore, 250-hp, 3.2-liter engine, while extensive chassis fine-tuning added a welcome dash of creaminess and predictability in the twilight zone. The "new" Boxster that was launched in 2004 was in actuality a thorough face-lift that introduced fresh cosmetics, bigger brakes and tires, a 911-style cockpit design, and more urge from new 236- and 276-hp powerplants. The Boxster was also important to enthusiasts for this reason: it and the 911 shared a lot of major components, allowing for greater profits than Porsche had enjoyed when its 911, 944/968, and 928 lines enjoyed no commonality. In essence, the Boxster's sales success and its parts sharing with the 911 ensured the continued independence of the company.