2022 Subaru BRZ Vs. 2001 Porsche Boxster: Is Used Better Than New?

Smart Buy / 15 Comments

The answer is different than you might think.

If you're in the market for a brand-new affordable sports car, it's hard to do better than the 2022 Subaru BRZ. The BRZ is possibly the most enjoyable new car available under $30,000, making more expensive sports cars seem overpriced and overhyped by comparison. The BRZ (and its corporate sibling the 2022 Toyota GR86) are great values but if you are willing to spend that same $30,000 on a used car, you can find some pretty alluring options.

Specifically, you'd be able to purchase one of our favorite Smart Buy candidates, an original 986 generation Porsche Boxster. The Boxster is one of the most affordable ways to buy a Porsche right now, with values for a nice example hovering around half of what it would cost to purchase a new BRZ. We know this because we actually purchased one last year with 48,000 miles and a full service history for $14,000.

So, should you spend your money on a brand-new BRZ with a warranty? Or should you purchase a used Porsche like we did?

CarBuzz
CarBuzz
CarBuzz
CarBuzz

Performance: Closer Than You Think

The BRZ receives a larger engine for the 2022 model year: a 2.4-liter (previously 2.0-liter) boxer-four producing 228 horsepower (previously 205 hp) and 184 lb-ft (previously 156 lb-ft). These are significant performance gains that result in a 6.6-second 0-60 mph time with the automatic transmission (1.1 seconds quicker than the previous model) and a more pleasing torque curve that no longer makes the BRZ feel underpowered.

Despite being more than two decades older, our 2001 Porsche Boxster delivers similar performance. We bought a base model with the 2.7-liter flat-six engine, which delivers 217 hp and 192 lb-ft. With the five-speed manual transmission, the Boxster can outmatch the BRZ's 0-60 time by two-tenths of a second, though the Subaru would post a sub-six-second sprint with the six-speed manual.

6 Times Ferrari Made Less Than Perfect Cars
6 Times Ferrari Made Less Than Perfect Cars
Coolest Car Colors You Can Buy In 2022
Coolest Car Colors You Can Buy In 2022
Engine CarBuzz
Engine Bay CarBuzz
Porsche
Porsche

Had we sprung for the Boxster S with the more powerful 3.2-liter flat-six or the newer 987 generation model, the Porsche would be quicker than the Subaru. However, we have to commend the BRZ because it shows how far sports cars have some in the past 20 years. Subaru can now produce the same power from a four-cylinder as Porsche did from a six-cylinder at the turn of the century. And you can purchase the BRZ for under $28,000 versus $42,000 for the Boxster in 2001 (about $66,000 in today's money).

The Boxster's flat-six produces a more pleasing soundtrack than the Subaru's boxer-four, but the new FA24D engine is such a massive improvement over the old FA20D, we're willing to give the BRZ a pass. If you hated how the old BRZ's engine sounded at full throttle, it's worth trying the new car.

Gearbox Controls CarBuzz
Porsche

Driving Enjoyment: The BRZ Shines

You'd never expect a Subaru to drive as well as a Porsche, but as we mentioned in the opening, the BRZ loves to make more expensive sports cars look silly. With a near 50-50 weight distribution, the BRZ's handling is delightfully neutral, while the steering feels pinpoint accurate. In fact, the BRZ gets closer to an even weight distribution than the mid-engined Porsche and its electric power steering offers more precision than the Boxster's 20-year old hydraulic rack.

Subaru sent us an automatic BRZ for testing, but the standard six-speed manual transmission is among the best we've tested in any new sports car. By comparison, the Boxster's five-speed manual feels sloppy, though it can be improved via aftermarket upgrades or a 997 911 shifter like we installed in our car. With more modifications to the suspension and brakes, the Boxster could match the BRZ on driving enjoyment, but as-tested, we surprisingly had more fun in the Subaru.

CarBuzz
CarBuzz
CarBuzz

Interior Technology: A Lopsided Comparison

If you crave the newest in-car technology, this is a pretty lopsided comparison. The BRZ comes standard with an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, bundling Bluetooth, a backup camera, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility. By comparison, the Boxster's double DIN head unit offers AM/FM radio and a CD player (which doesn't work on our car). At least the previous owner wired in an aux cable, but the stock speakers don't sound great.

Porsche offered a navigation system for that Boxster that's woefully out-of-date by today's standards, but if you want modern technology with OEM fitment, the company sells a CarPlay/Android Auto unit that looks original without feeling out of place. Unfortunately, it's quite pricey at over $1,500. The Boxster deserves some credit though, because unlike the BRZ it comes with electronically controlled leather seats with optional memory function.

Infotainment System CarBuzz
Steering Wheel CarBuzz
Porsche
Porsche

Practicality: What's Your Priority?

It's not the most practical car on sale, but the Subaru BRZ is surprisingly usable thanks to its back seat, which folds flat to create a larger storage area. We wouldn't want to sit back there for an extended period but with the seats down, Subaru says you can fit a set of track tires. Subaru doesn't quote storage space with the rear seats folded, but the trunk offers a fairly tight 6.3 cubic feet of space.

Though it doesn't have a back seat like the BRZ, the Boxster makes up for this shortcoming with its two trunks. Since the flat-six sits in the middle, this allowed Porsche to design a shallow 4.4 cubic-foot trunk above it plus a larger front truck with 5.3 cubic feet of space. If you combine these two cargo areas, the Boxster offers a bit more space than the BRZ, though its ability to carry large items is less impressive, unless you stick tall items out of the convertible roof.

If you value passenger space and carrying large items, the BRZ is superior, but the Boxster is reasonably useful as well. It just depends on your priorities.

Back Seats CarBuzz
Maximum Trunk Space CarBuzz
Porsche
CarBuzz

Desirability: No Substitute

The BRZ is a fantastic car, but there's no comparing Subaru's Pleiades stars emblem to the legendary Porsche crest in terms of desirability. We love the second-generation BRZ's styling, especially the top Limited trim with the larger 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, rear spoiler, and the eye-catching Ignition Red paint on our tester. By comparison, the 986 Boxster was maligned by Porsche enthusiasts when it debuted in 1997 because of its oddly-shaped headlights, which were nicknamed the "fried eggs." Despite this, the Boxster has aged like a fine wine and its unique headlights now set it apart from other Porsche models before and after. Its mid-engined layout makes it look like a baby supercar, and no one will guess you paid less than $20,000 for it.

CarBuzz
CarBuzz
CarBuzz
CarBuzz

Price: Value Or Peace Of Mind?

A brand-new Subaru BRZ starts at $27,995 for the base Premium trim or $30,495 for the Limited. You could spend $1,500 to get the six-speed automatic transmission, but we don't recommend it. This is far less than you'd spend on even the most basic 2022 Porsche 718 Boxster, which starts at $62,600.

Of course, used Porsches are far more affordable. You can purchase a 986 Boxster like ours for around $17,000 - the prices have already gone up since we bought ours and could continue to climb. Around $20,000 will get you a 986 Boxster S while $5,000 more starts getting into 987 territory. Alternatively, you could spend over $30,000 for a Porsche Cayman or a 996 911, both of which will outperform the BRZ.

But the purchase price is not the only factor here. The Subaru comes with a three-year/36,000-mile basic and five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, offering peace of mind. The Porsches are all way past their warranty period, meaning you are on the hook for everything that goes wrong. Owning a Porsche is great, but if you want a trouble-free ownership experience, we'd easily recommend the Subaru BRZ.

CarBuzz
CarBuzz
CarBuzz
CarBuzz
2022 Subaru BRZ

Join The Discussion

Gallery

Trunk Space
Trunk Space with Seat Folded
37
Photos

Related Cars

Back
To Top