When you can get away with selling the same sports car twice, you know you've built a cracking roadster!
When it was finally retired from service in 2004, the first-generation Porsche Boxster had established itself as a truly terrific sports car. Yes, it had its fair share of issues - the cabin wasn't quite up to the standard you'd expect from a car that cost $40,000 in the late 1990s, and early cars did have a nasty habit of cracking their engine cylinders - but the Boxster was a huge hit that Porsche was bound to capitalize on. And capitalize on it Porsche did, with its brand new Boxster range.
Calling the second-generation of Boxster "brand new" is, admittedly, a bit of a stretch: a fifth of the components were lifted straight from the original Boxster, and a lot of the parts were still shared with the 911, though this time the bits that were borrowed came from the then-new 997 series of the Boxster's bigger brother (it's probably the main reason why both cars were unveiled at the 2004 Paris Motor Show). Likewise, the flat-six engines seemed initially familiar as well, with a 2.7-liter for the entry-level car and a 3.2-liter for the more hunkered down and expensive 'S' version. Even the transmission options were pretty much identical: five-speed manuals for the standard Boxster, a six-speed for the Boxster S, and a Tiptronic auto for both.
You could argue, then, that the second-gen Porsche Boxster was an iterative evolution of the original, rather than a roadster that re-wrote the rulebook. But, when the original car was already a highly accomplished roadster, you can let Porsche off for laying low with the innovations. Especially when the second-generation Boxster proved to be an even better sports car than its predecessor. The extra power made it faster, the chassis revisions endowed the Boxster with a beautifully balanced handling setup and the engine note was smoother and raspier that the noise emitted by the first-gen Boxster's flat-six motors. Long story short, it picked up where the already excellent original left off.
The second-generation Porsche Boxster was also, you could argue, the first that could be used as a genuine track day car, assuming you had the time and money to properly invest in such a hobby. For the first time ever on a Porsche Boxster, carbon brakes were offered, which reduced the unsprung mass of the wheels (thus making the steering response better) and had improved stopping power over the standard rotors. At $8,000, they were damn expensive, but the argument this was still new technology did partly justify that. Remember, composite brakes had made their Porsche debut on the original 911 GT2 in 2001, and here they were, three years later, on the firm's entry-level sports car
With or without those silicone carbide rotors, the Porsche Boxster was comfortably one of the best sports cars from the day it went on sale, right up to the end of its production run in 2013 - with a good chunk of that down to the revisions and additions made throughout its life, such as the introduction of the excellent PDK dual-clutch box to the options list in 2008. So good was the second-gen Boxster, in fact, that Porsche pretty much used everything about the car as a base for the first-gen Cayman, which would quickly go on to outflank the fixed-roof sports cars that had remained beyond the reach of the soft top Boxster. That is, apart from one particular sports car: the Porsche 911 Carrera.
Understandably, then, Porsche promptly kept the Boxster and the Cayman spin-off on a firm leash in terms of performance - after all, why make a two-seater sports car that's better to drive than the faster, more powerful and more expensive 911? However, once work had properly begun on the development of the third-generation Porsche Boxster, design proposals were put forward that, if followed through correctly, could turn the entry-level roadster into quite possibly the best car Porsche had ever made.