Pros: Styling, Handling, Braking, and Cornering. Nothing better than driving on open road with top down!
Cons: Auto Trans could use a 6th gear, limited luxury features
In 2004, I bought a used 2001 'Boxster S' with 50K miles from a Porsche dealer. I use it as primarily a second car. It has automatic (tiptronic) trans and nearly all features including 18" wheels, performance suspension, auto climate control, heated seats, all leather interior, and premium paint. I think the only thing it didn't have was a navigation system. It's original (new) sticker price was $65K so you know it is loaded.
Before buying the Boxster, I was more of a sport sedan guy (Lexus GS300, Infinity G35, BMW 325) and I was not really a sports car enthusiast...but I am now! After owning the Boxster for 6 months, I fall in love again every time I drive it. And one funny thing about owning a Boxster is that people look at you like you are part of a parade. They just smile and wave.
On a straight road, the Boxster definitely accelerates well but on curvy roads, you know that you're in an engineering masterpiece. This car absolutely moves and corners like no tomorrow. I drive pretty aggressively up and down California's North Coast (Hwy 1) and I can count on one hand the number of times the tires have chirped while cornering at over twice the speed limit. The handling and acceleration out of corners are outstanding.
The paint and body detail are superb and the top retracts easily and quickly. For colder evenings, driving with the heater on and the heated seats gives you a few extra months of driving with the top down. Plus, it's great fun. There is a surprisingly amount of luggage space. Two 'carry-on' suite cases and a laptop bag fit easily. You can also replace one of the suitcases for your golf clubs.
As for noise levels, sometimes I think the sound of the engine is the best part. The Porsche sound is like no other.
I bought the automatic transmission (tiptronic) because I often sit in city traffic. The tiptronic is surprisingly responsive. And in the tiptronic 'manual' mode, I dare say it's close to the same experience as a manual trans without the constant shifting in traffic. The only thing that could improve the auto transmission is adding a 6th gear as it could use a gear between 1st and 2nd (the tiptronic defaults to 2nd gear for take off). This would allow for a little more swift acceleration and deceleration around corners.
As for maintenance, I did have the check engine light come on a couple times but after having the 60K routine service, I've had no issues. My biggest gripe is the 30 day wait to get a service appointment at the Porsche dealer.
For those of you who are like me and are used to more of a luxury sedan, you have to get used to sitting low and not having space for drinks and suit coats. But it's a small price to pay for having an absolutely incredible driving experience. It's great fun and I will always own a Porsche.