Editor note: This is my first comparison review and I was lucky enough to have a team with me, hence the ‘we.’ Also, I realize the Boxster picture in the comparison graphs is a rough 911 and not a Boxster. Enjoy!
2014 feels like yesterday. Housing was more affordable, people were dumping ice water on themselves in the name of charity, and Joffrey was getting poisoned at his own wedding. The two featured cars of our very first comparison test were also quite new in 2014. Porsche was two years into their 918 Boxster and General Motors just released their C7 Corvette to much critical acclaim. Yet the years have a way of moving quickly. In 2017, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay feel practically standard as are back-up cameras and turbocharged engines.
Only one of our cars, the Corvette, came standard with a back-up camera in 2014 and neither came turbocharged. That’s right - these two track toys are naturally aspirated just as God has intended. The two happen to hovering right around the same price point in the used market at $50,000. Chevrolet has also been investing much marketing dollars into targeting folks outside the old school ‘Vette fans, like investment bankers, wealthy gen X’ers and Millennials. Kind of like Porsche’s audience.
Chevrolet doesn’t hold back with the C7 Corvette. Our particular example is equipped with the 3LT package, throwing in nice luxury offerings like heated and ventilated seats, Napa leather, 10 speaker Bose sound, and the Z51 package, which adds a special limited slip differential, dry sump oil lubrication, cooling ducts, and larger brakes. Equipped with a 6.2L V8 engine producing 455 hp and 460 ft-lb, our Corvette hit 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and 100 mph in just under 9 seconds.
Porsche doesn’t have a loyal following for nothing, though. The Boxster has been an enthusiast favorite since its release in 1997 and is credited with saving Porsche from extinction. Our tested Porsche comes rather bare bones, with heated seats, premium sound, the PDK dual clutch automatic transmission, and the “S” version which replaces the base 2.7L engine with a 3.4L boxer 6 producing 315hp and 266ft-lb. It may not have the acceleration of the Corvette, but it still has teeth. 0-60 happens in 4.6 seconds and 100mph in less than 11 seconds.
Pray for Cars got ahold of a 2014 C7 Corvette and a 2014 Porsche Boxster S. We took them through the back roads of Marin and Half Moon Bay to see which is most worthy of your fifty grand. Let the Porsche Boxster S vs C7 Corvette begin!
The true car enthusiast may blink twice at starting a car comparison test with curb appeal. Let’s be “real” for a second. No one spends $50,000 on a car to avoid the limelight. In fact, many purchase cars in this category for the name, the look, and the bragging rights. We’re guilty of it and you probably are too.
Porsche has done a fantastic job modernizing their Boxster while still making it resemble the very first model. Curvy lines wrap the car, and the black air intakes on each side are a great contrast to the pearl white color. The LED lights placed under the headlights look modern and the active aero spoiler adds an enhanced sporty vibe to the car. The downside of incremental change, though, is the risk of not enough “new.” Porsche’s Boxster may look a little too much like its 1999 ancestor.
The Corvette has perfectly placed hood intakes and brake coolers that are both functional and offer contrasting color to the blazing silver paint. The staggered 19/20in rims gift the car with an even more aggressive stance. To the untrained eye, the Corvette may appear as if it was designed in Maranello, Italy next to the 458 Italia. Chevy wasn’t kidding with their goal to expand the Corvette buyer. The 110 year old GM branch took a risk with the completely new look and it pays off marvelously.
Our nod collectively goes to the ‘Vette.
On paper, there’s a clear winner here. The Corvette blows away the Porsche. It has a 1.0g+ versus the Porsche’s 0.95g skidpad grip, it’s over half a second faster to 0-60mph, and has a 70-0 braking distance of 140 feet versus the Boxster’s 149 feet. Driving the two back to back reveals a different story.
We took both of the cars out through the backroads near Half Moon bay, knowing how badly the Corvette destroys the Porsche’s numbers. Opening the Corvette up on the straight aways gives one of the world’s best adrenaline rushes, and the sound from the quad exhaust pipes easily bests our now second favorite C63 AMG exhaust note. Upshifts are quick but often complete with a minor judder.
Despite the extra performance features from the Z51 package, tossing the ‘Vette through corners reveals body roll and the very real feeling of an extra 500lbs. Most of us were too hesitant to take the car up anywhere near its true performance levels around narrower or twisty backroads. Off the track, the Corvette is a straight line animal meant for touring.
As expected, switching into the Boxster S after the wild acceleration of the Corvette left us feeling underwhelmed with the comparatively timid acceleration. The exhaust note sounds less like one coming from Thor’s hammer and more like one coming from a pubescent teenager.
As soon as we hit the same twisty back roads in the Boxster S, the clouds parted, a bright light shone and we remembered why God made Porsches. One of our testers described the Boxster as a “surgeon’s scalpel.” Confidence exudes from the Porsche and you as you carve through windy roads. It makes you feel like a pro. Shifts are incredibly quick and come with no unintended side effects. The Porsche Boxster S is made for those who want to have fun on the backroads when the track is closed. It effortlessly pushes through corners.
The Porsche shines as the backroad animal despite the performance advantages from the Vette on the track. It wins the fun to drive factor.
Things get much closer for the two cars when it comes to the interior.
The Corvette interior has greatly improved since the C6 generation and the 3LT package further enhances the luxury appeal. Leather coats the dashboard and much of the tangible interior of the car. It feels supple, looks great and adds an inviting feel to the interior. The bucket seats are supportive and offer a suitable driving position to most heights. Interior plastics generally of high quality. Cost cutting by Chevy is still somewhat apparent - the paddle shifters are made of thin plastic.
The center console area feels sparse and the 8in touchscreen has too much travel and not enough precision when used. The resolution on the screen is low and the back-up camera is difficult to see in the sunlight. The touchscreen does drop into the console to reveal USB ports and extra storage space. Storage spaceis also plentiful in the cabin, and there are two cup holders in the center armrest area. ‘Murica.
With an original MSRP of $62k+, you’d expect more interior base features from the Porsche. Instead, you get a low resolution 8 inch touch screen, no cup holders, no back-up camera and a manual tilt/telescopic steering wheel. The instrument gauges look the same as they did 10 years earlier.
Interior materials are solid and luxurious feeling. The base leather feels rich and supple on the seats. The seats are quite supportive and bolster you nicely when you hit the curves. The interior design is excellent, with chrome-appointed center console buttons arranged in functional and stylish patterns. Paddle shifters are built into the steering wheel and allow upshifts and downshifts from the same button. Despite the lack of feature, the interior shows class worthy of the price.
It’s a tough call, but we’re giving the slight nod to the Boxster S.
The ‘Vette and the Porsche are both very worthy of your midlife crisis and/or investment banking associate bonus. If you prefer to have a straight line grand tourer, the Corvette is hard to beat. It’s comfortable, sexy, and has an exhaust note from the heavens. You’re going to get noticed on the city streets and track.
If you’re looking for the canyon carving machine that exudes class and is fun to toss on the weekends, look no further than the Porsche Boxster S. Just check the option list first.