Full 2013 Porsche Boxster Review
What's New for 2013
The Boxster is redesigned for 2013.
About 300,000 Porsche Boxsters (and a few Caymans) have hit the road since production started in 1996, making it one of the most recognizable sports cars on the road. With the 2013 Porsche Boxster, the car has been comprehensively revised as the nameplate enters its third generation, yet it retains all the style and excitement that have made it the choice of so many.
The new Boxster improves on its predecessor in ways both subtle and significant. First, it looks sharper. Many of its sensual curves give way to creases, angles and increased definition along its flanks. A shortened nose also gives the Boxster a more cab-forward appearance, while LED taillights modernize the rear end, plus interior comfort improves with more cabin space.
Underneath the metal, the 2013 Porsche Boxster rides on a longer, wider and lower chassis that refines its handling behavior even as larger wheels and tires improve cornering grip. The Boxster has also shed weight; it's now 55 to nearly 80 pounds lighter. Finally, a new and improved engine for the base Boxster provides more power and better fuel economy.
Porsche purists indignantly kicked up a storm when the new Porsche 911 incorporated electric-assist steering, a measure that helps improve fuel economy, though often at the cost of compromising communication from the tires. The Boxster also has electric-assist steering, and we'll say that the new system is so good that only a Porsche purist with a heightened imagination could feel the difference from the previous hydraulic-assist setup.
As with every Porsche, the price of a 2013 Boxster can escalate with just a handful of options. And boy do you have options -- an almost overwhelming array of leather trim, electronic gadgets, wheel choices and performance upgrades. It'll take a few evenings study of the manufacturer's product guide to sort through them all.
The 2013 Porsche Boxster competes against a decidedly small group of rivals, each with its own strengths. The BMW Z4 and Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class are the most notable, and both benefit from additional headroom and a folding hardtop. But if performance ranks at the top of your must-haves, the Porsche Boxster remains unparalleled.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Porsche Boxster is a two-seat convertible offered in base and S trims. Base models come equipped with 18-inch wheels, a power-operated soft top, cruise control, six-way-adjustable seats (power backrest, manual fore/aft and height), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, air-conditioning, partial leather upholstery, Bluetooth and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player. Stepping up to the Boxster S gets you a bigger engine, 19-inch wheels, bi-xenon headlights and red-painted brake calipers.
As usual, Porsche will allow you to spend a small country's GDP on options. The Convenience package adds a wind deflector, heated seats and dual-zone automatic climate control. Upgrading to the Premium package includes those features plus adaptive headlights (bi-xenon for the base Boxster), 10-way-adjustable power sport seats (with four-way power lumbar) and auto-dimming mirrors. The Infotainment package gets a navigation system and a seven-speaker sound system with satellite radio and iPod/USB connectivity.
The items in packages can be added separately along with different 19- and 20-inch wheel designs, a mechanical limited-slip rear differential, electronic torque vectoring, an adaptive suspension, ceramic composite brakes, front and rear parking sensors, and a sport steering wheel with PDK shift paddles.
Interior options include sport seats that can be equipped with heated, ventilated and adaptive features; a heated steering wheel; voice controls; satellite radio, a six-CD changer; interior ambient lighting; and a 10-speaker Bose surround-sound system. Then there are the numerous customization choices that will cover just about any interior surface in leather, aluminum, carbon fiber, wood trim or exterior paint.
Serious performance drivers can opt for the Sport Chrono package, which adds dynamic transmission mounts (said to minimize weight transfer during gearchanges), a lap timer, driver-adjustable chassis settings and, with the PDK transmission, launch control.
Powertrains and Performance
The base Boxster is powered by a 2.7-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder (flat-6) that produces 265 horsepower and 206 pound-feet of torque. The rear-wheel-drive sports car comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission. Optional is a seven-speed dual-clutch automated transmission known as PDK. Porsche says the base Boxster will go from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds regardless of transmission type. Fuel economy is 20 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined with the manual and 22/32/26 with PDK.
The Boxster S comes with a 3.4-liter flat-6 that produces 315 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds testing, an S model with the manual transmission accelerated from zero to 60 mph in an impressively quick 4.9 seconds. Fuel economy is 20/28/23 combined with the manual and 21/30/24 with PDK.
Standard safety features for the 2013 Porsche Boxster include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, dual thorax and head side-impact airbags and rollover safety hoops above the headrests. In Edmunds brake testing, a Boxster S came to a stop from 60 mph in a short 103 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside the cabin you'll find the new Boxster's greatest leap compared to the previous one. Addressing a key complaint among taller drivers, the seats are placed lower and there's increased room for both occupants. The interior still features premium materials, and now the gauges, dash and center console borrow from the Panamera's ergonomic elegance. It's a classier look and feel all around.
Top-up motoring is now more pleasant, with new sound-deadening material suppressing more ambient noise, although the new Boxster retains its familiar blind spots and compromised top-up visibility. But with a power soft top that folds in 10 seconds, there are fewer excuses to ride around fully enclosed.
Although Porsche has stretched the 2013 Boxster, the additional room went into the cabin and, as before, the Boxster still lacks meaningful cargo space. Its two trunks -- one front, one rear -- are pretty small, though combined they total up for about 10 cubic feet of cargo space with the top raised or lowered. You'll have more luck fitting larger items (such as a golf bag) in the SLK.
Once underway, there are few driving experiences as fully engrossing as the 2013 Porsche Boxster's. Compact dimensions, modest weight and a midengine layout all help maximize handling ability, and the Boxster manages to feel glued to the road and light on its feet at the same time. Even the new 911 struggles to provide this level of confidence, and we're not the first to observe that a Boxster with equal power might prove to be a better overall package. And while the ride is predictably firm, it's not harsh, and the car settles quickly after encountering road imperfections.
Porsche faithful may fret over the Boxster's switch to electric-assist steering, but in our testing we've found the new steering a skilled mimic of a traditional hydraulic-assist setup: meaty in its effort level and mind-warpingly rapid in its actions. We think the new steering will feel transparent and communicative to all but the most seasoned Porsche owner.
We haven't yet driven the base-model Boxster with its improved 2.7-liter. If it sounds as good as the previous engine, but packs more power and drinks less fuel, we don't see any downside. The Boxster S, meanwhile, pushes off with authority from low revs, then comes alive and starts to sing when it hits the midrange.