Let’s start with a disclaimer: I am not a convertible kind of girl. When faced with the choice between a 996 Cabriolet and a 987 S for my Porsche, I chose the Cayman. I like a stiffer, lighter ride and am willing to sacrifice a little sunshine to get it.
Not that I have anything against convertibles, mind you. I love how a convertible has the power to turn a bad day into a good one and a beautiful day into a great one, and how it can invoke instant feelings of vacations, freedom, and running around with friends in the days before mortgages and kids.
My mother, who inspired my love of cars, owns an 11-year-old Boxster that she has driven over 70K miles, and she often calls to tell me how putting the top down and going for a drive can cure just about any blues. And that is why I jumped at the chance to review the new Boxster for PorschePurist at Porsche's US media launch in Birmingham, Alabama; I wanted to revisit the convertible mystique. That, and upon first seeing pictures of the 2013 Boxster S, I was taken by how incredibly beautiful the car looked, and it immediately made me want to travel to California, obtain one, and drive along the ocean, wind in my hair and two hands on the wheel.
The 2013 Porsche Boxster is More Carrera GT Than Any Other Porsche in the Lineup
The Boxster has come a long way since first making its debut in 1997. Since then, I have heard people refer to the Boxster as a “budget” or “entry level” Porsche, or worse, a “Porsche with panties.” Let me assure you, there is no way anyone looking at the 2013 model will utter those phrases, because the new Boxster has more Carrera GT and 918 in it than any other current model in the Porsche lineup. The Boxster has truly come into its own design-wise, and the results are a joy to behold.
Arriving at Barber Motorsport Park
We arrive at Barber Motorsports Park, and I finally see the new Boxster in person. The good folks at Porsche have it parked next to a Carrera GT, and the similarities are even more obvious than in the pictures I’d seen. The car is, simply put, beautiful. Its head lights and door indentations pay tribute to the Carrera GT next to it, making the Boxster look like its husky younger brother. Not only are the standard wheels bigger this year – 18" and 19" – but the Boxster’s wheelbase has grown by 2.36 inches. Add to that its lower ride height (10 mm) and the result is a lovely, aggressive stance.
While the nose is beautifully proportioned (a result of its new, bulbous headlights and redesigned more efficient air intakes), the rear end is where the new Boxster really shines. Its tail lights blend beautifully into the spoiler, participating in the aerodynamics of the car and creating deliberate continuity throughout the car. Simply put, the new Boxster is a stunner. I haven’t even driven it and I already want one.
2013 Porsche Boxster Top and Interior
A peek inside reveals that the new Boxster has borrowed many elements of its luxurious interior from the 991 redesign. The difference between interiors in the first generation Boxster and the 2013 model is like night and day. The prominent center console is the most obvious change, and it is a welcome one, as it gives the driver access to various settings without straying too far from the wheel and the shifter knob. The instruments cluster is clean and beautifully lit, with the rightmost display alternating intelligently between various settings. If you have a car with Sports Chrono Package, for example, your rightmost instrument display is where you can keep track of G-forces in real time. The remainder of the time, the display allows you to manage various settings in the vehicle (and there are way too many to mention).
Generally speaking, the new interior is not just more luxurious, but more comfortable, too. The seats, which I previously found uncomfortable for my small frame, are now more cushioned and padded while retaining their sporty edge. The car feels more roomy inside, while still providing the intimacy one would expect from a sports car. The balance between comfort and edge in the cockpit is just right.
And then there is that convertible top. As you would expect, it is quieter than before, and because the top comes down in 9 seconds (and can do so while you are in motion, up to 35 mph), the time it takes you to let the sunshine into your driving experience (or keep the rain out) is barely noticeable. Another notable improvement is that there is no longer a metal hood component to the soft top, which translates into both less weight and better lines.
Track Time in the 2013 Porsche Boxster
Having spent plenty of time admiring the Boxster’s interior, I am eager to get behind the wheel. And that I get to do first thing in the morning, just as rain starts falling on the track.
I have been briefed on the Boxster’s many improvements: the new 2.7 L Boxster and 3.4 L Boxster S engines produce 265 and 315 hp respectively, arriving at 0-60 in 5.5 and 4.8 seconds. Both models are lighter, with the Boxster weighing in at 2888 while the S is 12 lbs heavier at 2910. More horses and less weight translate into a more agile, nimble Porsche. In fact, the new Boxster is now the lightest roadster among its competitors. The engine itself has been optimized in countless ways, most notably with a more efficient exhaust which benefited not just performance, but the Boxster’s sound as well. The engine sports a new thermal management system, which helps the car reach and maintain operating temperature faster.
PDK Wins Another Admirer
The PDK transmission, which our Boxster was equipped with, has also been revamped. One enjoyable such revision: the driver can now hear those lovely, rewarding blips as the car downshifts. I am not a lover of automatic transmissions [we know PDK isn't really an automatic transmission, but we can't break old habits], but I have to admit the PDK system is fantastic. Even in comfort mode, the car anticipates the driver’s needs and gets there in good time. In Sport mode, there is a little more aggressiveness and response, and the car becomes playful. Hit Sport Plus and the Boxster means business, anticipating your desire for the most aggressive shifting possible. If I had to drive an automatic, this one would be it. And I can certainly see how those who choose the Boxster as their daily ride would benefit from having a car that would happily go with them from rush hour traffic to the track.
I get behind the wheel and right out of pit lane, the Boxster S is ready to play. The rain is coming down hard, and there are quite a few puddles on track. While the Boxster moves laterally on the wet track, its path is predictable, allowing me to get comfortable even in inclement conditions. The turn-in is exceptional. Florian Sprenger, Manager of Chassis Development and Steering Systems for the Boxster, explained the new Porsche Torque Vectoring system is one of the reasons for the Boxster’s increased turn-in accuracy. For those wondering its even more precise than the previous generation 987s. Even in Sport Plus mode, where the PDK transmission is more aggressive, there is no wheel spin upon corner exit, and no surprises from the rear end (disclaimer: all driver aids must be left on during these drives, and although we never saw the telltale PSM light come on, these probably added the Boxster’s exceptional stability even in inclement conditions).
In between my track time, a small diversion at the autocross track revealed just how sharp and accurate the Boxster’s turn-ins are. Even with harsher inputs and under hard braking, the Boxster dances around corners beautifully, going exactly where you want. Each time around I became more and more aggressive, and each time the Boxster rewarded me with obedient response. No cones were harmed in the process of this test!
The sun came out in the afternoon and I headed back to the dry track to test the Boxster S in dry conditions. Talented Brumos driver Andrew Davis was my guide this time, riding shotgun while I enjoyed the Boxster in Sport Plus mode. And what a complete joy it was! In dry conditions, we focused on pushing the Boxster and working on speed. My 3 allotted laps turned into 6 as Andrew provided feedback and I took in the excitement that was driving the new Boxster S. I could have driven it all afternoon, and then driven it home.
But alas, I had to give the Boxster S back. And as soon as I did, I texted my partner in Porsche crime, Motorsport Editor Christian Maloof: “I have fallen in love with a convertible. The new Boxster is amazing!” Would I buy one? Absolutely. I already miss it.
Porsche's Low Maintenance Performance
One of Porsche’s biggest talents is making a workhorse of a sports car. Whereas many sportscars are delicate, tedious and needy of the owner’s velvet touch, Porsches offer essentially low-maintenance performance. While I would not subject the Boxster’s soft top to the rigours of snow and salt, I can assure you Porsche has tested the car in such conditions, chains on the tires, and the car has performed up to their expectations. Whether you subject your Boxster to inclement weather is still your choice – the car can take it. I love having a choice, and so would you.
2013 Porsche Boxster Pricing
The new Boxster is priced starting at $49,500 (manual) and $52,700 (PDK), while the Boxster S starts at $60,900 (manual) and $64,100 (PDK). There are too many options to mention, but the Porsche website is a great place to explore what you can’t – or can – do without.
More than any of its predecessors, the new Boxster is meant to be driven and enjoyed. And the convertible top? Just icing on one already amazing cake.
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