A Porsche Boxster over a Honda S2000? Who’d have thought
This post was supposed to be about the Honda S2000, a good-looking two-seater that I thought would be easily within reach now that the better examples are some 8 to 10 years old. Well put together with Honda’s track record for reliability still intact, it certainly appealed to my sensibilities. It wasn’t as good as Merc’s SLK nor Porsche’s Boxster, but then it wasn’t as expensive, about half the price in the case of the Porsche.
Originally priced around AUD$73k, Red Book suggests an S2000 from 2008 should be between $20-28k. So I was somewhat surprised to find only two 2008 examples offered for sale at an eye watering $49k and $54k respectively. Not only was this twice what I was expecting, but I could get hold of a similar mileage Boxster for less. Either I am missing something and this is a car to keep, or there are some pretty greedy sellers out there. Supply and demand I guess. Nonetheless, bugger the Honda, I’ll go for the Porsche thank you.
Yes, I know all the car mags suggest that you buy a Porsche Boxster only because you can’t afford a 911, and no doubt that is true. The benefit, however, of the Boxster’s flat six mid-engine layout means there’s no surprises for the driver when you push it that bit too far, or when you take your foot off the pedal mid-corner. Something most 911 drivers will know about, and at my age, one less risk.
The 987, available from 2005-2012, was more powerful than the first model, with increased capacity to 2.7 litres and 176 kW in the standard car. The S had to wait a couple of years before its power plant increased to 3.4 litres, pumping out a very useful 216 kW. In 2009, Porsche upgraded it again, beefing up the engine to 2.9 litres, and 3.5 litres in the S. This meant the 0-100 dash could now be reached in a mere 5.9 seconds in the standard manual, whilst the S dispatched it in only 5.3 seconds.
Interestingly, 2009 was the year that electronic gear changes finally broke the back of the 6 speed manual with the introduction of the new PDK transmission. A far better system than Porsche’s old Tiptronic option, the 7 speed double clutch box eclipsed its stick shift rival to 100 km/h by a fraction of a second only, but it was enough for most buyers to begin to ditch the manual. As you’d expect, power increased too, up to 188 kW for the standard car, and 228 kW for the S.
So, are you buying a villain or a hero? Well, by most accounts, the Boxster has proven exceptionally reliable. Data out of the UK suggest that MOT passes, their equivalent to the Aussie pink slip, stand at 82% for early 2005 examples and a brilliant 91% for cars built in 2010.
It seems that you are also better off looking for a higher mileage options. Boxsters prefer to be used regularly, otherwise can suffer oil leaks, failed batteries and corroded brakes. On the outside, they are very well-built as you’d expect but if you notice any blemishes, take it as a sign it has not been looked after and it will most probably run more than just skin deep.
Ensure that the car has been maintained by a qualified Porsche technician, as they do require a reasonable level of expertise. So factor this in to your considerations, both for the future and over its history. It’s more expensive but likely worth it.
So let’s take a look around.
First up the roof. It should work smoothly, but broken push rods can be a common problem. They are not too pricey to replace, certainly not if you go for an after-market option, but it’s a pain nonetheless. If you see any water damage around the base inside the car, be aware that a leak may have reached the ECU, and this will not be cheap if it needs replacing. Whilst you are at it, ensure all the lights and indicators are working too, as they seem to be the most common vehicle check failures.
Check the cooling vents and ducts at the front of the car as they often get overlooked and can collect a lot of gunk. If not checked and cleaned out regularly, the airways can get blocked and you’re left staring at a bill to replace the radiator.
The transmission is generally very reliable, but you’ll know there is a problem if the gear change and clutch is stiff in the manual, or you hear a humming or clicking sound coming from the rear in the auto models.
Porsche Boxsters do seem to chew up its coil springs though, so listen out for any suspension knocks and check that the car looks nice and level.
More expensive issues can be an RMS (Rear Main Seal) failure – an oil leak from the gearbox which, in itself, isn’t too much of an issue but it requires the box to be removed in order to repair it. A potentially more damaging issue is an IMS (Intermediate Shaft) bearing failure which can kill the engine if left unchecked. Luckily, this seems to be more of a Cayman issue, with only a few early 987’s affected. Subsequently, Porsche remedied the problem in 2006 by moving the bearing inside the crank case and this has proven a far stronger set up.
So what do owners consider the costliest aspect of enjoying this car?
Maintenance by a qualified Porsche technician, the cost of decent tyres and ancillaries such as the water pump bearings or an IMS upgrade.
Most forums suggest that, if maintained regularly, a Boxster is a very friendly daily drive. If you budget AUD$2000 – 3000 per year for maintenance you should be enjoying open top driving for a long time to come.
More Information & Forums:
Revolution Porsche in the UK goes in to more detail should you need it.