By David Haueter
It's hard to believe the Porsche Boxster is now in its sixth year of production. It still looks contemporary and modern while retaining design cues that link the car to Porsches historic past. I've always loved the design of the car, particularly the rear, as the beautifully sculpted fenders flow down to the nicely integrated taillights and center-exit exhaust. 911 enthusiasts have complained (and rightly so) about the Boxster's similarity to the 911 in the front, but there's no question that it's a Porsche.
The most notable change to the base model Boxster for 2003 is the updated and more powerful engine. New VarioCam technology allows infinite adjustment of the crankshaft angle by up to 40 degrees, where previously it would adjust to only 25 degrees. This results in quicker response from the 2.7-liter engine, as the VarioCam system combined with the latest Motronic engine management can deliver more precise control over valve opening and closing times. These changes result in 225hp at 6,300rpm, up from 217hp in the 2002 model. Torque remains the same at 192lb-ft at 4,750rpm. In action, the engine provides very strong pulling power from a standstill and really comes alive once you get past 5,000rpm, where the exhaust emits a howl that is pure Porsche. Throttle response is also excellent in this car, as it no doubt benefits from the improved VarioCam system and electronics.