What's the best all-around Porsche you can buy? If you're thinking 911, think again: The mid-engine 2014 Porsche Boxster S has that just-right feel. It's far cheaper than Porsche's iconic rear-engine sports car, of course, but the Boxster is much more than just a good value. Here are five reasons why Porsche's most affordable car may also be its most rewarding.

Sublime Engine and Transmission

The Boxster S model's 3.4-liter 315-horsepower flat-6 engine is a work of art. It responds instantly when you prod the throttle, and there's so much usable torque that it pins you to your seat at practically any rpm. Meanwhile, the PDK automated or manual transmission delivers flawless shifts in a matter of milliseconds. If you think you're fast with a manual shifter, wait till you see what PDK can do.

Here's an interesting tidbit about PDK, by the way: By default, you literally don't feel the shifts at all, and Porsche's engineers worried that this might seem strange to the typical driver. Accordingly, they tweaked the hardcore Sport Plus shift mode to emulate shift shock like the old days. It's not real shift shock, mind you; they just added some lines of code. That's how smooth this transmission is: Porsche had to add harshness to make it feel normal.

Ultra-Rigid Body

Convertibles, in general, are a lot more flex-resistant than they used to be, but the Boxster S is a whole new ball game. Try driving over a pothole or bump and see what happens. It's honestly like driving a coupe with a transparent roof; there are virtually none of the shakes and shudders that used to come with the territory for convertible drivers. With rigidity like this, it makes us wonder why anyone would opt for the more expensive fixed-roof version (the Cayman).

Tasteful New Styling

The original Boxster looked a bit ungainly from some angles, but the current model is just beautiful from every direction. The aggressive, angular headlights stake out a separate identity for the Boxster relative to the 911 with its classic round headlights, and the streamlined tail has an almost exotic appearance. The Boxster S is a car that transcends what you pay for it. It is simply a thing of beauty, and that's not going to change with time.

Legitimately Luxurious Interior

The previous Boxster's interior was pretty plain, but Porsche has gone all-out this time around. Both the materials and design are top-notch, and the result is a cabin that's so sexy and sumptuous that it wouldn't look out of place in a 911. Our test car had rich, camel-leather upholstery that reminded us of Ferrari's favorite leather color, and every interior trim piece seemed to be built and installed with care. Forget about the Boxster's entry-level status: This is a nice car, period, not just nice for the price.

Exceptionally Fun to Drive

Is this the most fun you can have on four wheels? Quite possibly. The Boxster S is a surgically precise driving tool, from its perfectly weighted steering to its epic cornering grip. Helping matters is the Porsche Torque Vectoring electronic limited-slip differential, which squeezes the inside rear brake as necessary to keep you on track. It all adds up to a telepathic driving experience, and that's increasingly rare in an age when computers and technology seem to have taken over. Perhaps more than any other car, the Boxster S reminds us just how joyful driving can be.

AutoTrader Says

Plain and simple, the 2014 Porsche Boxster S is one of the best sports cars ever built. If you're ready to reward yourself, make sure you give Porsche's roadster a go.

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Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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