In this day in age, the car enthusiast is keeping an open mind about the used car market, as there are so many different angles you can approach it with. Whether you simply want to buy low and sell high, or want to find that special something that will last forever, or a sports car that will time and again deliver the thrills for just pocket money. Some are in the market for a quick buck, some for thrills, and some for necessity.
A Porsche, however, will never be bought out of necessity. A Porsche will be bought out of enthusiasm, out of passion. And it just so happens that right now there is an 'all prices slashed' UK wide sale going on, and this sale includes a low mileage, good as new Porsche Boxster convertible.
Now, whether you consider the Boxster to be a driving tool of precision, or a poor man's 911, you cannot argue that owning a set of keys to a thoroughly modern Porsche from 9k (for a first-gen 986 model , 15k for the current, 987 gen model) is an enticing proposition, you certainly cannot argue that a 3.2 litre, 280-odd bhp convertible S version of the Boxster is a lot of sports car for the money, and a very easy and reliable everyday proposition. You may also benefit from excellent pre-economic downturn residual value. These babies may just bottom out soon and begin to hold their value well.
The car we are testing here is a 53-plate, first-gen 986 'S' model, 25,000 mile example that was bought by its current owner for £20k 2 years ago. She has done 10,000 miles in it pottering around town over 2 years of careful ownership, and is currently valued at £18k. Getting inside, my eyes are drawn to the built in sat-nav system with remote control, an aftermarket luxury fitted to this particular car, often found in cars that have been subject to a life pottering around a busy city. This car is an automatic version, with steering wheel buttons mounted in the thumb positions available for fingertip gearshifting when in sport mode.
The seats and interior trim have hardly wilted at all, proving the quality Porsche put into the build and design of the interior of their cars. There is dual climate control, a good Bose sound system which is easily audible at speed with the top down, and that is about it. From simply being sat in the drivers seat, you get a feel for the intentions of this car. It wants to go quickly, and it can handle whatever demands you may have of it.
The sun is shining, it is truly sunglasses weather. Start the engine and it bursts into life with a very Porsche-like burst of revs before settling to a muted, slightly rumbly idle. Unclip the central lever mounted on the roof, where it meets the windscreen, and press the 2-way dash mounted button. You are topless in roughly 20 seconds, and it lowers smoothly and effortlessly, without any mechanical niggles whatsoever. Lower the handbrake, slip the gearshifter into 'D' and away we go.
As I drive away the car feels very torquey with a pronounced, pointy front end. The car has a tendancy to shrink around the driver and offers a feeling of both comfort and confidence, which is promising after 5 years, that the prospective new owner will feel exactly what the first owner will have done when they took it for it's maiden voyage.
Out on the open road, the car feels at its best. However, not B-roads. The B-road blaster version of this car would be the manual, as the slightly sluggish automatic shifter, even in sport/manual mode, is really a deterrent to urgent progress. What it does do however is highlight various other pleasurable qualities in this Boxster S. Instead of banging through the gears, looking for the 280 horses that have been promised to you, which come very high in the rev range (at around the 6,000rpm peak), you find a tendancy to enjoy the torque, the effortless progress possible driving at eight tenths, the rumble of that 3.2 engine. Enjoy the sun, the open top motoring, the keen dynamics and fine balance of this car.
As this is the older model, the gearbox only has 5 speeds, however they are extremely long which, while slightly hampering 0-60mph potential, does allow it to hit over 160 mph. When it gets going on the way to its top speed, it does impress with the urgency it gets there, with its sporty appetite for high revs.
When I look at used buys I try to put myself in the demographic of the potental buyer; who am I, what sex, age, even height am I likely to be? This Porsche Boxster S is difficult to place, which is something that I like about it. It is suitable for the female driver without the family to haul around, as it is so easy to drive. It is also very appealing to the succesful male, who is looking for a sporty convertible with street credentials. However, I have met many young men with both Boxster's and Boxster S, who are not neccesarily petrol-heads, however they do appreciate a nice car, and their main criteria when purchasing their car has been price.
It seems that the second hand Porsche Boxster market has a car for all buyers, a '99 S-reg high miler for £7-8k or a brand new model that tops £40k. All owners and drivers will be experiencing a very similar array of sensations while driving their car, as I have discovered, Boxsters were lovingly built with everyday performance in mind, which Porsche has been doing for over 40 years with the 911. This also helps contribute to the excellent residual values. This is why anyone in the used car market for a funky sports car needs to consider one of these. You will not be disappointed, even when you come to sell it on. Buying one of these could just see you on the Porsche ladder for quite a long time.