THE first-generation Porsche Boxster was introduced in South Africa as long ago as 1996 and the launch was covered in that year’s September issue of CAR. The model had a long nine-year lifespan before the introduction of the 987 version in 2005.
The original Boxster used a 2,5-litre flat-six engine delivering 150 kW. The price back then was only R350 000, with the Tiptronic option priced at R375 000. In 1999 the engine capacity was increased to 2,7 litres and power bumped up to 162 kW. An “S” model with an increased capacity of 3,2 litres and 185 kW was also introduced, and the power of the “S” was later increased to 191 kW.
Boot capacity is decent for a mid-engined sportscar, with figures of 96 dm³ under the front “boot lid” and a further 96 dm³ behind the engine. In 2002, a facelift saw mildly altered headlamps, tail-lamps, bumpers and air intakes. A glass rear window replaced the troublesome plastic item. At the same time the power output of the standard model was raised to 168 kW.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
There were a few reports of overheating and cylinder head gaskets subsequently needing replacement. The coolant expansion tank exploded in one case, damaging the engine cover, while cracks in the plastic bottle were found in another. One owner of a 2,7-litre was unlucky to need the engine’s three main seals replaced under warranty. Cracked or porous cylinder liners were mentioned as a problem on some pre-2000 models. To check for possible overheating and gasket problems, look for signs of oil/ water sludge under the oil filler cap and in the expansion tank. Access to the engine is difficult to say the least.
Some early Tiptronic transmission-equipped cars had gear selector bearing sleeve seizures and a modification was introduced as a cure.
SUSPENSION, BRAKES AND WHEELS
Prematurely worn and rusty brake discs seemed to be the main gripe for some owners. Another had to replace front lower ball joints on his Boxster at a low mileage. Otherwise, problems are scarce – one CV joint developed a noise and was replaced, ditto another car’s rear-wheel bearing.
Early cars had some ignition switch/steering lock hassles, but otherwise no problems were reported.
The Bosch MAF (mass air flow) sensor can get damaged, leading to failure. Replacement is not difficult and might cost around R2 000 but because various versions were used, it is important to make sure that the matching part number is on the replacement item. Other reports mention a failed reverse light switch and an electrically-powered radiator fan that stopped working. One owner had his engine warning light illuminate but this was merely reset by the dealer.
Again, there are no obvious major problems. One owner reported that the passenger seat was not adjusting, which turned out to be merely an electrical connection problem. Watch out for placing items that don’t like heat in the rear luggage compartment – engine heat can warm things up somewhat. Two incidents of water leaks into the front luggage compartment were traced to non-sealing grommets. A couple of CD players gave minor track-skipping problems.
A petrol smell on a new vehicle turned out to be a poorly-fitting seal on the fuel flap, while another car had water ingress into one of the indicators. A couple of roofs needed replacement, sometimes because of the rear plastic window being damaged over time from creasing on folding, and once due to nylon parts breaking. Some companies sell replacement hoods with your choice of plastic or glass windows. A silencer heat shield came loose – a minor fix.
Creaks from the soft-top were mentioned a few times. Some owners reported a rough idle after a hot start or even in general use. A full service history is a must and owners need to make sure that coolant is treated with good quality anti-freeze to help protect the engine from overheating.
The Boxster is a sensible buy from new due to the status of the name badge, the quality and the good resale value. This follows through to the second-hand market, where, although one still pays a premium, a lot of flair can be purchased for the price of a smallish new saloon or hatch.