Porsche’s 2012 sales results show the Boxster is in need of some lovin’

2013-Porsche-Boxster

At £37,589 for the entry-level 2.7-litre Boxster, and £45,384 for the Boxster S, you’d expect them to be flying out of the showrooms, especially with its unfeasibly efficient flat-six boxer engine which propels even the slowest model from 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds and yet still manages to deliver 36.7 mpg.

You’ll pay almost ‘twice’ the price for an entry-level 911, which offers 85 more bhp, is 0.9 seconds faster from 0 – 62 mph and 2.3 mpg less frugal.

So how does one reconcile the fact that between January and September 2012, Porsche sold 19,261 911s and yet only 7,411 of the Boxster and Cayman combined?

Of course 911 sales take into account the new 991-generation model, which went on sale at the beginning of the year, while the new-generation Boxster didn’t kick in until May 2012 and we’ve only just seen the new Cayman at the LA Auto Show earlier this month.  But still, 911 sales are up 39.8% while Boxster/Cayman sales are down 21.3% on the previous year.

So, do the numbers tell us anything conclusive?

Well for a start, the old-boy still has plenty of life left in its tyres as it approaches its 50th Anniversary in 2013. It also shows that Porsche were (probably) right in not replacing the 911 with something younger and fresher (in concept).

However the Boxster has been saddled with the negative connotations of being a ‘hairdresser’s car’ (I should know, I used to own one), while the Cayman has deliberately been kept on a muzzle with less powerful engines, even though pound-for-pound it would be faster than a similarly powered 911 around the track.

If Porsche are using the Boxster and Cayman as an entry ladder to up-sell owners into a 911, then they’ve clearly been successful, but for what is arguably the best driving car in its segment, Porsche are simply not selling enough of them.

By comparison, during the same period BMW sold 12,201 Z4s (also 21.9% down on last year), and although we haven’t been able to obtain comparable figures for Mercedes-Benz’s SLK-Class and Audi’s TT, we’d wager they would be considerably higher than the Z4s.

This is during a record year for Porsche, which has so far delivered 128,978 new cars – some 8.5% higher than it achieved in the whole of 2011, with another month of sales still to go.

But the 911 is not the most popular model made by Porsche, not by a long way. For that we have to look towards the Cayenne, which sold 54,960 cars in the same period (up 24.9%) representing more than half of all sales, followed by the Panamera up 15.8% at 21,713 cars.

I have something of a soft spot for the Boxster, even though I felt more emotionally attached to the 911s I have owned, but if this news tells us anything then clearly Porsche’s success relies far more on non-enthusiast buyers than the tiny niche of petrolheads that are usually associated with its cars.

But the Boxster deserves to fare better. Barring the outgoing 911 GT3, the Boxster (and no doubt new Cayman) is the best car Porsche currently makes and deserves to sell a whole lot more. Let’s hope we see its fortunes recover in 2013.

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Model 2012 Sales(Jan-Sept) 2011 Sales(Jan-Sept) Change(%)
Total 103,245 85,872 +20.2
911 19,261 13,777 +39.8
Boxster/Cayman 7,411 9,421 -21.3
Cayenne 54,860 43,924 +24.9
Panamera 21,713 18,750 +15.8