Vehicle Overview
In January 2005, Porsche's lower-priced mid-engine sports car emerged in redesigned form. Both the regular Boxster and the higher-performance Boxster S got major styling revisions and handling enhancements. The Boxster became the first roadster with head-protection airbags, which deploy from the side-window rails.

Both of the Boxster's engines were unchanged in size but delivered significant power boosts. The regular Boxster's 2.7-liter flat-six-cylinder jumped from 225 to 240 horsepower. The 3.2-liter in the Boxster S is the most powerful engine ever offered in the model line; it generates 280 hp. According to Porsche, the Boxster can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, versus 5.2 seconds for the Boxster S.

Variable-ratio power steering was new for 2005, and its track width increased. By eliminating the spare tire, cargo space grew slightly.

For 2006, the passenger seat gets weight sensors that disable the front airbags when a child-safety seat is detected. Ten-spoke, 19-inch Carrera Sport wheels, a tire-pressure-monitoring system and an electronic logbook are newly optional.

Rivals include the Audi TT, BMW Z4, Honda S2000 and Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class.

The front and side air intakes were enlarged for 2005. The headlights and taillamps were new, and the side windows were enlarged.

Alloy wheels on the Boxster S hold 18-inch tires, while the base model gets 17-inch wheels. Nineteen-inch wheels are optional. The Boxster S has a firmer sport suspension.

Two occupants enjoy leather-upholstered body-hugging bucket seats. The driver faces a trio of gauges in a hooded cluster. Seat heaters, sport seats, Bose surround sound, Park Assist and a navigation system are available. Cargo compartments at both ends offer a total of 9.9 cubic feet of space.

Under the Hood
The base Boxster holds a 2.7-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder that develops 240 hp. The engine is mounted behind the seats but ahead of the rear axle. A five-speed-manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed manual is available.

In the Boxster S, a 3.2-liter six-cylinder makes 280 hp and works with a standard six-speed-manual gearbox. Either engine can use Porsche's Tiptronic S five-speed-automatic transmission, which incorporates steering-wheel buttons for manual gear selection.

All-disc antilock brakes, side-impact and head-protection airbags and the Porsche Stability Management electronic stability system are standard.

Driving Impressions
Few automobiles offer as much all-around driving enjoyment as the Boxster, and the 2005 model raised that bar even higher. With quick, precise control and racetrack-quality moves, the Boxster is eager to dash ahead and keeps its tires planted firmly on the pavement.

While previous-generation Boxsters weren't the quickest sports cars, the current models are substantially swifter. Significant pavement imperfections can result in a rough ride in the Boxster S. The surefooted and positive Boxster follows commands with precision.

Still, the base model may be more appealing. It's less raucous and delivers a satisfying ride without losing much enjoyment. The base model's five-speed manual shifts a little easier than the Boxster S's six-speed manual, but both clutches behave admirably. The Tiptronic S automatic transmission operates with excellence.

Limited cargo space has been a drawback, but the current version has a bit more room. Top-up visibility is troublesome. The seats are snug but surprisingly comfortable.