Now seven years old, the 2004 Porsche Boxster is officially a classic. We fell in love when we first drove it and that love has not diminished over time in spite of other roadsters now vying for our affection. Porsche has been improving on this mid-engine roadster ever since its introduction as a 1997 model. Boxster got a bigger engine and an improved interior for 2000, and Boxster S was introduced that same year with an even more powerful engine. There were significant improvements for 2003, though they are subtle. All of these improvements enhance the quality of the original without affecting the basic attraction. The basic attraction is the Boxster's embodiment of the Porsche 356 Speedster and 550 Spyder. Steering response, clutch take-up, shift tension between gears, all are familiar in a fashion that can only be labeled Porsche. Yet the Boxster has that mid-engine, pivot-at-its-center feel, with none of the tail-heavy temperament that was the hallmark of the rear-engine 911 for so long. The standard Boxster offers plenty of performance, and its engine was revised last year (2003) for quicker acceleration. More important, it sounds much better. Dipping into the throttle at higher revs rewards the driver with a deep, muscular whoosh of air rushing through the intakes that's satisfying, intoxicating. Yet the Boxster engine is quite tractable, great for putting around residential areas or busy parking lots at low rpm. It handles superbly yet rides very nicely, a wonderful balance. We prefer the Boxster S, though. Boxster S retails for $9,000 more than Boxster, but, after all, it's your money. The S does everything better than the Boxster while maintaining what makes the original wonderful. The 3.2-liter engine delivers noticeably more thrust than what's on tap from the 2.7-liter. Though the standard Boxster is no softie, the Boxster S has firmer suspension tuning. Most important, the S is gratifyingly distinguished by its bright red brake calipers, easily seen through the elegant spokes of its specially designed wheels. Gotta have 'em. From a practical standpoint, the Boxster is eminently livable. The top can be raised or lowered at a moment's notice, making top-down motoring an easy decision. It rides smoothly and feels tight and rigid. It's impressively free of the vibration that normally accompanies convertibles. It may not be as comfortable as a new 911, but its seats are supportive and comfortable and it comes with a high level of standard equipment. There are other roadsters that cost less, but the Boxster offers a style and character that is uniquely Porsche and very satisfying. In short, we've never tired of driving the Boxster.