As the world of sports and super cars continues to embrace the SUV as a way of staying afloat in the modern day, Porsche was one of the first to adopt the pivot with the Cayenne. But few know Porsche’s renaissance was actually spearheaded by the little Boxster sports car.

By the turn of the 1990s, Porsche sales were faltering, having dramatically dropped from 50,000 in the mid-’80s to less than 15,000 in the early ’90s. The then-new 993-generation was the sole surviving model from the brand at that time after the 924/944/968 front-engined range was dropped.

What’s more, Porsche was spending way too much money building these models, resulting in the dire need for a more time- and money-efficient way to build cars.

Something was needed to broaden the German marque’s horizons. Porsche looked to Japan for inspiration, realising the success Mazda enjoyed with its MX-5 roadster, and to ex-Toyota engineers who helped implement a ‘just-in-time’ production method.

It meant all of Porsche’s forthcoming products would be based on the same platform – sacrilege coming from a company that made the 911.

But the Boxster would change the 911’s history forever, incorporating a water-cooled engine that would eventually find its way to the 996-generation 911. Also a new direction for a 968 replacement, Porsche fitted the flat-six engine midship, as it was with the 550 Spyder race car of the 1950s.

While design attributes were shared with the 996-generation 911, causing some ire within Porschephiles, the Boxster did manage to forge its own path, which the market took a quick liking to. It appealed to younger buyers chasing top-down motoring and quickly became Porsche’s best-selling model.

The Boxster allowed Porsche to springboard onto its next big-hitter, the Cayenne SUV, which opened up even more doors for the marque. Porsche executives saw to it that the design of the 1996 Boxster stayed largely the same as the 1993 concept car.

It’s this concept car that Porsche referenced years later when designing the 2021 Porsche Boxster 25 Years limited edition. Based on the Boxster GTS 4.0, the 25 Years edition scores a bold red interior, embossed red soft-top roof, and Neodyme gold accenting on the exterior.

Just 1250 units will be made available to celebrate the silver anniversary of the Porsche Boxster.

Of course, it does away with the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer engine of the 718 Boxster and employs a naturally aspirated 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine outputting 294kW/420Nm to the rear wheels. This powertrain is shared with the 718 Boxster GTS and can be optioned with a six-speed manual or seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Looking back on 25 years of the Porsche Boxster, it seems an unconventional way to return to profit – building a relatively impractical two-seater sports car. But the brand has sold more than 357,000 units, and the product is now in its fourth generation.

Makes us wonder what kind of left-field direction the brand will take next.

Tom Fraser

Tom started out in the automotive industry by exploiting his photographic skills but quickly learned that journalists got the better end of the deal. He began with CarAdvice in 2014, left in 2017 to join Bauer Media titles including Wheels and WhichCar and subsequently returned to CarAdvice in early 2021 during its transition to Drive. As part of the Drive content team, Tom covers automotive news, car reviews, advice, and holds a special interest in long-form feature stories. He understands that every car buyer is unique and has varying requirements when it comes to buying a new car, but equally, there’s also a loyal subset of Drive audience that loves entertaining enthusiast content. Tom holds a deep respect for all things automotive no matter the model, priding himself on noticing the subtle things that make each car tick. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t learn something new in an everchanging industry, which is then imparted to the Drive reader base.

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