Review: Porsche Boxster Spyder (2010 – 2012)

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Stripped back version of the Boxster. High performance and handling levels. High quality cabin. Available with PDK double-clutch gearbox.

No air conditioning as standard. Designed primarily for open-top driving and manual roof is fiddly. Noisy on the motorway. Very firm ride.

Porsche Boxster Spyder (2010 – 2012): At A Glance

The Porsche Boxster Spyder is a very different car from the standard Boxster. This is the purists version - a car designed first and foremost for driving in the open-air with high performance and weight saving the overriding factors in its design. As a result it's a more focussed and uncompromising car then the model it's based on.

It clearly stands out with its low-slung soft top extending far to the back. Together with the lower side windows and the two distinctive domes on the rear lid, the roof - when closed - gives the Boxster Spyder a silhouette reminiscent of the Carrera GT. As a result it has a more aggressive look than the standard Boxster - and it's also faster.

It uses the 3.4-litre straight-six engine from the Boxster S but with 10hp more power and an extra 10Nm of torque, which gives it a 0-62mph time of just 5.1 seconds with the standard manual gearbox and 5.0 seconds flat with the optional PDK semi-automatic transmission.

But it's not merely about extra power. The Boxster Spyder is designed to be light and agile, with lightweight engineering throughout. This includes everything from aluminium doors and unique light 19-inch alloy wheels to the removal of the electric roof mechanism and even the metal door handles. Luxuries such as air conditioning and a radio are also dropped.

This stripped back Boxster is sublime to drive with perfect balance, great steering and seemingly endless grip. But it's not the choice if you want everyday comfort as it's noisy at higher speeds and has a very stiff ride as you'd expect from an uncompromising performance Porsche. It's also more expensive than the standard Porsche Boxster S. But if you want something a little bit special with a touch more exclusivity, the Boxster Spyder is certainly a unique car and one you'll always enjoy driving.

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What does a Porsche Boxster Spyder (2010 – 2012) cost?

Porsche Boxster Spyder (2010 – 2012): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4342 mm
Width 1801 mm
Height 1231 mm
Wheelbase 2415 mm

Full specifications

The lightweight approach of the Boxster Spyder is probably most noticeable in the cabin which is very sparse compared to a standard Boxster. Porsche describes it as 'purist style' and its fair to say that standard equipment is restricted to the essential items in order to keep the weight down.

This is good for performance but means there are few creature comforts. There's no radio for starters. It's replaced by a storage box on the dashboard, while the cupholders that usually sit behind a thin panel above the glovebox are also dropped. There's no air conditioning either - which sounds amazing considering the price of the Boxster Spyder - but again, this is to reduce weight.

That said, these are available as optional extras, which is somewhat confusing given the light weight concept of the Spyder and also pushes the price up considerably. Climate control will set you back almost £1,000 although at least the radio is a no cost option. Satellite navigation, as part of the PCM Porsche Communcation Management system, is available as an extra.

The weight saving continues throughout the interior and even the metal interior door handles are replaced by unusual fabric hoops, made of the same material used on the seatbelts. The binnacle above the instrument dials has been dropped while the door stowage compartments have been removed altogether. Even the side windows are lower and lighter than a standard Boxster.

But that's not to say it isn't stylish. The standard interior colour is black, but in contrast, the door opening hoops, seat belts and the gearshift pattern on the gear lever all come in brilliant red. There are also a range of optional interiors including a stylish Carrera Red natural leather choice, although it's not cheap at nearly £3,000.

As an alternative to the extra light sports bucket seats featured as standard, Porsche's regular sports seats are available as a no cost option. And as with all Porsche cars, the interior finish and attention to detail are unsurpassed with top-class materials used throughout and a genuine feeling of quality in all the controls. 

As the Boxster Spyder is intended primarily for driving in the open air, it dispenses with the electrically folding roof of the standard Boxster. Instead there's a lighter low-slung top. And it really is more of a 'top' than a roof. So much so that Porsche even points out that it isn't tight enough for washing the car in a car wash. You can easily put your fingers through the gap between the roof and the side window.

Instead, it's designed to merely protect the driver and passenger from bad weather and is held in position on a carbon frame which connects to the top of the windscreen. Taking it off is fairly easily, but is quite a faff compared to an electric roof and putting it back in place is far easier with two people. Considering how changeable the weather is in the UK, you're unlikely to have the roof down all that often, unless you're really committed and don't mind getting occassionally wet!

The roof extends into two belt-shaped ends at the rear which hook into lashing points on the rear lid when pulling up the roof. When closing the soft top, the rear lid acts as a lever, tightening the roof in position. A wind deflector made of transparent plastic comes as standard.

Like the normal Boxster, the Spyder has the same useful deep boot space at the front along with luggage space at the rear, making it one of the more versatile sports cars. However it does have a smaller fuel tank than the standard Boxster - 54 litres rather than the usual 64 litres - again to keep maximum weight down, which means you may find yourself filling up with fuel more often than you'd expect.

Child seats that fit a Porsche Boxster Spyder (2010 – 2012)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Porsche Boxster Spyder (2010 – 2012) like to drive?

The Boxster Spyder is powered by the same six-cylinder 3.4-litre normally aspirated engine as the Porsche Boxster S but power is boosted slighty to 320hp - an extra 10hp - and it reaches its peak at 7250rpm, 950rpm higher than the Boxster S. The Spyder also has an extra 10Nm of torque with a maximum of 370Nm on tap adding to its stunning performance. 

All this combines to give the Boxster Spyder a storming 0-62mph time of just 5.1 seconds - that's 0.2 seconds quicker than the Porsche Boxster S, helped by the lighter overall weight. The characterful flat-six engine produces a wonderfully deep note on start-up and a great howl on acceleration, while the optional sports exhaust system which opens up baffles in the exhaust silencer, adds to this further with a real sports car noise.

The most impressive aspect of the Boxster engine is how smooth yet responsive it is. It pulls strongly from low down, all the way up to its red line at 7500rpm and the power delivery is consistent all the way up, making this an enjoyable and easy car to drive quickly. It's also very responsive, helped by Direct Fuel Injection which means it responds directly and spontaneously to even the slightest movement of the accelerator pedal.

Despite this immense performance, the Boxster Spyder is still impressively efficient and averages 29.1mpg with CO2 emissions of 218g/km, pretty remarkable figures for a sports car with this much power. Of course you're unlikely to see these numbers if you really start to enjoy the Boxster Spyder and that's very easy to do.

Take the roof off and it comes into its own. Suddenly, all that weight saving and the stripped down interior make sense. On an empty, twisting road it's truly sublime with pin-sharp steering that's well weighted along with a perfectly balanced chassis. It's further helped by the fact the Boxster is mid-engined which means it's incredibly poised and not at all intimidating to drive, even for those who are new to performance cars.

It corners beautifully and so getting into a rhythm from bend to bend is hugely rewarding, aided by amazing levels of grip and wonderful feedback through the steering wheel. This is down to the specially developed sports suspension which is 20mm lower than the Boxster S with shorter and stiffer springs as well as modified anti-roll bars and dampers with a harder setting. Even the wheels and tyres are specifically designed to keep weight down and add to driving precision.

Naturally there is a trade off. The ride is incredibly stiff and very unforgiving on poor quality roads or over potholes and motorway expansion joints. It can become quite crashy, although it doesn't fidget too much and tends to settle down quite quickly, but if you're after comfort, this isn't the model to choose.

It's certainly not designed for long distance journeys either. It's noisy on the motorway like an old-fashioned convertible and the lack of a seal between the side windows and roof is especially noticeable at higher speeds where the wind turbulence becomes quite bad. It can quickly become tiring and noisy on long trips.

The standard gearbox is a slick and positive six-speed manual plus there's an excellent semi-automatic, double clutch gearbox called PDK or - to give it its full name and it's quite a mouthful - Doppelkupplungsgetriebe. As it has two clutches, the gear shifts are incredibly fast and without any interruption in power. It's around 60 per cent faster at shifting than a manual gearbox and actually delivers a faster 0-62mph time of 5.0 seconds while economy is also better at 30.4mpg.

With the gear lever in D, gears are shifted fully automatically in an extra-smooth fashion but most drivers will change gear manually through the buttons on the steering wheel. We're big fans of the optional three-spoke steering wheel with proper gearshift paddles on the back. It also looks great with a chunky metal trim, giving the interior an even higher quality feel.

Like all Boxsters, the Boxster Spyder is available with both the Sport Chrono Pack or the Sport Chrono Package Plus (in conjunction with PCM Porsche Communication Management). As well as an analogue stopwatch on the instrument panel, there's a Sport mode which increases throttle response and means the stability control won't come into effect as early when driving enthusiastically.

With the PDK gearbox, a Sport Plus button is also included, which makes the gearchanges quicker and uncompromisingly sporting for optimum performance. It also includes the Launch Control system for optimum acceleration from a standing start, like you would in a race car.

All you need to do is make sure you have a clear road first! Then hold down the brake pedal with your left foot, fully press down the accelerator pedal which revs the engine up to 6,500 rpm. Then, when you taking your foot off the brake pedal, it will rocket the car away with maximum acceleration. This makes the Spyder accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.8 seconds and it's quite an experience.

However, what's likely to be more useful in everyday driving is the Start-Off Assistant which comes as standard on all models and prevents the car from rolling back (for about two seconds) when starting on a gradient.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
Boxster Spyder 29 mpg 5.1 s 221 g/km
Boxster Spyder PDK 30 mpg 4.8 s 218 g/km

Real MPG average for a Porsche Boxster Spyder (2010 – 2012)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

29–29 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Porsche Boxster Spyder (2010 – 2012)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Does sport mode increase fuel consumption?

I've just changed my Porsche Boxster 981 for a 718. I've only had one automatic in 44 years, but the PDK is fantastic. Anyway, I know the sport button gives you sharper responses but does it affect fuel consumption at steady speeds when cruising?
It delays upchanges, so yes, the car will use more fuel.
Answered by Honest John
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What Cars Are Similar To The Porsche Boxster Spyder (2010 – 2012)?

Key attributes of the this model are: Performance car and Convertible.

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