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1998 Porsche Boxster Convertible

2dr Roadster Manual

Starting at | Starting at 19 MPG City - 26 MPG Highway

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  • $41,000 original MSRP
Printable Version

1998 Porsche Boxster Convertible

Printable Version

1998 Porsche Boxster Convertible


1998 Porsche Boxster

Source: New Car Test Drive

Pure sports car and purely Porsche.

by Tony Swan

Base Price $40,745
As Tested $42,095

If you think ordinary Porschephiles are fanatics, consider the Porsche sub-cult that regarded the old 914/6 as the best of this distinguished breed -- better, at least in terms of handling, than the immortal 911.

Although it was relentlessly rectilinear and singularly unlovely, the 914 also had superb handling for its day, thanks to the balance that goes with a mid-engine design.

Porsche faithful love to debate arcane issues such as this, like the guys in medieval monasteries trying to figure out how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. But we think the new Porsche Boxster effectively consigns the 914 to history. This dramatically all-new mid-engined roadster opens a new chapter for the world's premier sports car company.


Although it's not quite as drop-dead gorgeous as the Boxster show car of 1993, the production version is clean, purposeful and distinctively Porsche.

From the front, the Boxster design is reminiscent of the evergreen 911, particularly some of the 911 special appearance packages. But from the rear, it suggests a blend of a couple of '50s ancestors, specifically Porsche's 356 Speedster and the 550 Spyder.

Naturally, the proportions are a little different. This is a mid-engine car, as distinct from the rear-engined 356 and the 911, which means the engine is mounted ahead of the rear axle rather than over or behind it.

This configuration yields excellent weight distribution, and just as significant, puts most of the car's mass between the front and rear axles, a big asset in the department of rapid maneuvers. Which, of course, is what cars like this are all about.

Riding a 95.1-inch wheelbase and almost 170 inches long, the Boxster is about 10 inches longer than the BMW Z3 and Mercedes-Benz SLK, its Teutonic rivals. It's also a tad wider, with a wider rear track. However, the extra dimensions don't translate as a weight penalty. The basic Boxster scales in a tad over 2800 pounds, which is a little lighter than its competitors.

Propelling this tidy package is an update on a classic Porsche design -- the opposed or "boxer" six. With their cylinders opposed 180 degrees to one another, boxer designs offer packaging advantages, because they lie flat. And because they lie flat, they also help designers keep the car's center of gravity low.

At a glance, the new engine is classic Porsche, with roots that date to Ferdinand Porsche's early work in the 1930s. But there's a key contemporary difference. The Boxster's flat-six is liquid-cooled, eliminating the old 911 cooling fans and lending a distinctly new sound to its power delivery.

As you'd expect of a Porsche, the new engine is mechanically au courant, with twin overhead cams, four valves per cylinder and variable cam timing. And as you'd also expect, peak power -- 201 horsepower from 2.5 liters -- is plentiful, though both the Z3 2.8 and supercharged SLK are a little more robust in the torque department.

Two transmissions are offered -- the standard five-speed manual and Porsche's Tiptronic automatic, also with five speeds. The Tiptronic offers its operator the choice of full automatic operation or fingertip pushbutton self-shifting, similar in concept to a Formula One racing car. It's the best compromise between stick and automatic on the market, but at $3150 it's also the most expensive and the manual gearbox provides better performance.

Braking, with oversize vented discs on all four wheels plus Porsche's latest anti-lock system, is superb.

Our basic Boxster was equipped with the standard wheel/tire package -- P205/55ZR front, P225/50ZR rear, on handsome 16-inch aluminum wheels. Optional 17-inch wheels add a bit more grip at the rear of the car, but also add $1450 to the bottom line.

Other chassis/performance related goodies on the option list include a $3235 Sport package (17-inch wheel/tire combination, wind deflector, cruise control, alarm system and in-dash CD player) and a Technic Sport package (stiffer suspension components, 17-inch wheels and tires, automatic brake differential and traction control) for $1901.

The traction control system, which includes the automatic brake proportioning system, is also available as a separate option for $847.

The Inside Story

Consistent with virtually every Porsche ever made, the Boxster is all business inside, with plenty of room for two (we don't have specific measurements) highly supportive leather-surfaced bucket seats, contemporary amenities and excellent control placement.

However, the instruments do represent something of a departure from Porsche tradition. Three round pods are siamesed together, with the speedo on the left, coolant temp and fuel on the right and a big tachometer dominating in the center.

The speedo and tach are analog, of course, but there are smaller digital readouts at the bottom of each pod -- odometer incoporated in the speedo, clock in the secondary readouts and a digital speedo at the bottom of the big tach. It's an attractive and effective blend of classic with contemporary.

A pair of steel tube hoops, mounted behind the seats and extending above the seatbacks, provide extra protection for drivers unlucky enough to find themselves upside-down, and of course there are the usual passive safety features -- twin airbags, three-point seatbelts and side-impact protection.

Unlike the BMW Z3, the Boxster's standard convertible top is power-operated. When the top is down, you can stretch a wind deflector between the upper seatbacks to minimize interior buffeting. It's a $360 option that we recommend. Porsche also offers a removable hardtop option, which includes a rear window defogger, for $2249.

Other optional amenities: a trip computer ($440), alarm system ($600), upgrades sound package (six speakers, four-channel amp, $590), headlight washers ($224), metallic paint ($789) and cruise control ($550). Although the seats in the basic car have leather inserts, you can spread more cowhide around the interior with the leather interior package for $1951.

All of the foregoing makes it clear to us that option shopping is something to approach carefully with this new car.

Luggage space is apportioned between fore and aft compartments, and is surprisingly good for a small two-seater. Getting at the engine, however, is another story. Although you can get to fluid reservoirs readily enough, all access to the engine itself comes from below. Unless you have your own hydraulic hoist, getting to the engine means a visit to your Porsche dealer, which is rarely cheap.

Ride & Drive

Although the BMW Z3 2.8, with its torquey in-line six, may be just a little quicker out of the blocks, the Boxster is definitely brisk. It'll dash to 60 mph in well under seven seconds, and top speed -- something we hope to explore someday -- is pegged at 149 mph.

But the real fun here is this car's unerringly precise response to driver commands. Mid-engine balance, an excellent chassis and firm suspension tuning add up to a level of agility and stability that seems a cut above the Boxster's key competitors. There's not a hint of wrestling to guide this aggressive newcomer down to the apex of a fast turn; it seems almost to anticipate its orders, and there's not a hint of hesitation or uncertainty.

The old British definition of a sports car was something that could, in a pinch, be raced. That's a key part of Porsche's heritage, and it certainly applies to the Boxster. The ride quality that goes with these gunfighter reflexes is distinctly firm, but somehow we don't think anyone will mind.

Final Word

The sudden revival of the roadster is a gratifying phenomenon in an age of sport-utility vehicles. Besides the Boxster, the SLK and BMW Z3 offer tempting packages to consider, each with its own appeal.

Of this trio, the Boxster is the most expensive, but it's also arguably the best at pure sports car duties. It's a genuine Porsche. To some, that alone will be worth the price of admission.

Order our 200+ page magazine of reviews. Send $8.00 (S&H included) to New Car Test Drive, 2145 Crooks Rd. Suite 200, Troy, MI 48084

©1998 New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Printable Version

1998 Porsche Boxster Convertible

Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std
Traction/Stability Control Opt

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Air Bag Std

Accident Prevention

Rear Parking Aid Opt


Alarm Opt
Anti-theft System Std
Printable Version

1998 Porsche Boxster Convertible

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 4 Years/50,000 Miles
Corrosion 10 Years/Unlimited Miles

Porsche Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

The Porsche Approved Certified Limited Warranty comprises two distinct limited warranty coverages.
  1. The limited warranty covers up to 6 years or a cumulative 100,000 miles/160,000 kilometers, whichever comes first if the vehicle is still under the new car limited warranty.
  2. The limited warranty covers 2 years from the date of sale, up to 50,000 miles/ 80,000 kilometers to a cumulative 100,000 miles/ 160,000 kilometers from the current mileage on the odometer at the time of purchase.
The Porsche Approved Certified Pre-owned Limited Warranty offers full peace of mind. Porsche Cars NA will repair or replace with new or remanufactured part any factory installed part that is faulty in material or workmanship under normal use. This limited warranty covers all parts of the following components:
  • Engine
  • Fuel / Cooling system
  • Power train / transmission
  • Suspension / Steering
  • Brake system
  • Heating / Air conditioning
  • Electrical Systems
  • Body
  • Comfort Electronics
Age/Mileage Eligibility 8 yrs from original service date/under 100k miles
Lease Term Certified N/A
Point Inspection A comprehensive checklist with over 111+ quality criteria is used for this purpose. This way you can rest assured that your pre-owned Porsche is in perfect condition, both mechanically and visually.
Return/Exchange Program N/A
Roadside Assistance With the purchase or lease of each Porsche Approved vehicle, the owner will receive the advantages of the Porsche 24-Hour Roadside Assistance program for the duration of the Porsche Approved Limited Warranty coverage.
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty Should you wish to sell your Porsche, you will also benefit from the Pre-owned Porsche Warranty. The remaining balance of the warranty is transferred to the new owner. And this will undoubtedly increase the value of your vehicle.
Warranty Deductible No

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

1998 Porsche Boxster Convertible

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