2001 Porsche Boxster
Before I begin, please note that none of the following is intended as material to start a flame-war or otherwise make someone angry. I own both cars and love them, but I've never been one to pull any punches and will quite readily speak my mind. If you're not the type who can read a review objectively, please skip this!
In May 2001 I bought the Boxster, which was my first Porsche after wanting one for a couple of decades. My father nearly bought a 911 in '79, but ended up with a Mercedes 300CD instead. A more practical car for him, but I was perhaps the most disappointed 12 year old on the planet at the time. He finally bought a 964 Cabriolet in '87, which further fueled my desire to own one. I've always wanted/needed a truck or SUV, so that's what I've driven for most of the past 17 years, but I've had Porsche-on-the-brain the whole time. I now have two Porsches and an outstanding SUV, and I'm thankful that I've been fortunate enough to own such nice cars.
The second Porsche, the Carrera 4S, was acquired as the result of a trade about a month ago. I had been driving a '01 BMW X5 for a bit over a year and loved it, but not enough to keep it. I have a '99 Land Cruiser, which is a much better SUV than the X5, and I had the Boxster for a sports car. The X5's attempt at being sporty is noble, but it's not a sports car even if it is the best handling/braking/etc. SUV on the planet. The C4S was at the BMW dealer where I bought the X5, so they were more than happy to make the trade and both parties were happy.
I've been driving both cars on the same roads to compare and contrast them. Each is a fine vehicle, and neither wins hands-down over the other. For those of you who think that the Boxster is not a "real" Porsche, you really need to drive one for a while and make up your own mind. Don't fall into the trap set by those moldy figs.
Things are quite different at higher speeds, and from 20-70, 40-80, and so on, the C4S will positively spank the Boxster unless it's in the wrong gear. It can be left in 3rd and will pull very quickly to high speeds (for the US), whereas the Boxster will most likely need to shift a bit. While following a friend driving the Boxster I was easily able to close the distance, even when he was accelerating full out. I can only imagine what a TT or tweaked 993 must be like...
The C4S handles well, in fact it may have ultimately better handling than the Boxster, but you're not as likely to feel as confident when you first drive one. It's better (arguably) than most 2WD 911's, but it takes a bit getting used to. The 4WD is hard to notice, and so far I've not once been able to feel it pulling in the way that some trucks and SUVs can. But when combined with the huge tires and taut suspension, this thing handles very well. As with the Boxster, just steer and it will do what you want. The front-end is a bit "floatier" than with the Boxster, but it never feels as if it's not gripping as if magnets are being used.
Both cars suffer from having carpet on the doors. I don' t know if the interior designers at Porsche are stuck in the '70s or something, but this is way too cheezy for cars such as these. The door panels in both are nice enough otherwise, although the huge sections of beige in the 993 drive me nuts. Porsches should have black interiors.
Ergonomically the Boxster is a bit better, although it's not perfect. I'm tall enough that the lower vertical section of the center console is where my knee wants to be. I might "delete" it as some have done, but I've heard that the carpets for the replacement kit don't match well. I have to look at the interior and want it to be nice. Speaking of deletes, I'll probably delete the useless back seats in the C4S, again depending on if I can find something that looks nice.
Regarding the individual bits, I think that the nose of the Boxster is better, especially with the Litronics in place of the stock units. The '02 996s and the late-model Turbos are even better, although the latter is a bit over the top. The profiles of each are very nice, although the Boxster looks a bit goofy with the top up and should only be driven like that in bad weather. The rear of the C4S is outstanding, and the extra width of the fenders makes a great car look even better. One of my favorite tunes is "Baby Got Back", and that's the theme-song for this car!
The C4S is a bit "harder" to drive, quite literally when you compare the clutch, shifter, and so on with that of the Boxster. This may have to do with the relative ages of the cars, with the C4S being an updated 60's design vs. the modern design of the Boxster. I guess people are just wimpier than they used to be. For a daily driver the C4S is fine, but if I were in stop-and-go traffic all day long then the lighter controls in the Boxster might be less fatiguing. I would prefer something in-between the two cars, with more feel and effort than the Boxster but less so than the C4S. Each could probably be adjusted a bit to suit, I guess.
In summary, each car is quite nice, and there are only a few other makes and models that I'd rather have.