Photos by Tom Strongman
It’s tempting to think of the Boxster as “that other Porsche,” because the Porsche name is so synonymous with the iconic 911 shape. But the Boxster has carved its own niche in the Porsche lineup with near-perfect balance, outstanding handling and a relatively more affordable, but still far from cheap, price.
The all-new 2013 Boxster is the third generation of the car that was introduced in 1998. It is longer, lower, wider and lighter than last year’s model. There are two models: The Boxster, starting at $49,500, and the Boxster S starting at $60,900. Out-the-door prices are likely to be considerably higher because Porsche chooses to make many items an extra-cost option.
The first Boxster was styled with cues that paid homage to the famous 550 Spyder. The second-generation car in 2005 received new headlights and bolder front. The 2013 maintains a familiar silhouette, but the windshield has been moved forward almost four inches, creating a cab-forward profile that bears more than a passing resemblance to the fabled Carrera GT. The sides of the top, however, intrude on rear vision when you are backing out of a parking space or driveway.
The base Boxster has a 2.7-liter, 265-horsepower, horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine that is slightly smaller than last year’s base engine but delivers more power. The S has a 3.4-liter engine with 315 horsepower. Both are available with a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic.
Highway fuel mileage is rated at 32 for the base model and 30 for the S, and that’s good for a performance car.
I drove both the base model and the S, and both were equipped with the PDK that is a $3,200 option. That would be my transmission of choice because it delivers slightly faster acceleration than the six-speed. In manual mode, the PDK’s shifts, made with paddles on the steering wheel, are quicker than the manual gearbox.
The 265 horsepower in the base model feels a bit flaccid at low rpm, but when you give it, in the words of one of my hot rod friends, a “proper neck wringing,” it comes alive above 5,000 rpm and really begins to sing. 2005 a little more low-speed grunt.
When flogged hard, the base car hits 60 miles per hour in 5.2 seconds with the PDK and Sport Chrono package. Its top track speed is 164 miles per hour.
The S, comparably equipped, scoots to 60 in 4.5 seconds and has a top track speed of 173. In everyday driving the S felt more noticeably more muscular.
Outright acceleration is not really the Boxster’s strength. Many less expensive cars are faster. andling is where Porsche really shines. The mid-engine design gives a near-perfect front-rear weight distribution, and the optional torque-vectoring rear axle sends drive to the rear wheel with the most traction. Powerful brakes are the perfect complement to the car’s go-kart handling.
To me, the best thing about the Boxster is its intangible ability to communicate with the driver. The handling is so solid and secure, and the engine and transmission work so harmoniously with the handling, that I often felt as if the car was reading my mind and reacting exactly as I wanted it to. That ability to feel as one with the car is enhances the driving experience.
The interior has been upgraded, the top goes up and down more quickly, and a long list of convenience features are offered, but Porsche buyers are more inclined to buy the car for that indefinable feeling they get behind the wheel.
Price: The base price of the Boxster S is $60,900. The test car was equipped with infotainment package, premium package, PDK, torque-vectoring rear axle, 20-inch wheels, stability control and the sport chronograph package. The sticker price was $80,200.
Four years or 50,000 miles.
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Point: The redesigned Boxster has beautiful styling and improved comfort. It is longer and wider, but more important, it feels quieter and more refined without losing its performance edge.
Counterpoint: So many items, such as the stability system and torque-vectoring rear axle, are optional that they drive the sticker price way above the base price. I would rather those items be standard and the base price be closer to what the sticker will be.
2013 Porsche Boxster S
Engine: 3.4-liter, 315-hp 6-cyl
Transmission: Seven-speed PDK automatic
Wheelbase: 97.4 inches
Curb weight: 2,910 lbs.
Base price: $60,900
As driven: $80,200
Mpg rating: 21 city, 30 hwy.