Full 2014 Porsche Boxster Review
What's New for 2014
Following a full redesign last year, the Porsche Boxster gets an optional Burmester audio system and a couple of new paint colors for 2014.
Like George and Weezy, the 2014 Porsche Boxster is movin' on up. Of course, the previous generations of the Boxster weren't exactly slumming it -- on the contrary. Roughly 300,000 examples were sold during its first decade and a half of production, making it one of the most popular convertibles on the planet. But there was always a distinct sense that it was the entry-level Porsche, the one you settled for because the 911 Cabriolet's asking price made you blush.
That's where the current Boxster decisively turns the page.
Entering its second year of production for 2014, the latest-generation Boxster is still headline news in the world of premium convertibles. Some of that is due to the car's exemplary performance, but let's be honest: The midengine Boxster has always been a dream to drive. No, what really sets this one apart is its newfound excellence in other respects.
Most notably, the styling has gone from cute to curvaceous, even evoking the exotic Carrera GT from certain angles, while the beautifully crafted interior has us thinking budget Ferrari, especially with the optional two-tone leather trim. Is the Boxster still the entry-level Porsche? Technically, yes. But it's suddenly one of the most desirable Porsches, too, unless you're holding out for the $845,000 918 Spyder.
Negatives? Well, there aren't many, but there is the standard four-speaker stereo, for example, which strikes us as a rather cynical gesture from the most profitable automaker in the world. Rear visibility is poor with the top up and mediocre even with it down, and the Boxster's separate front and rear trunks mean you've got not one, but two places where a golf bag won't fit. If you're in the mood to shop around, the 2014 BMW Z4, 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible and Mercedes SLK-Class offer intriguingly different takes on the premium-roadster formula, while the new 2014 Jaguar F-Type is an alluring if likely costlier alternative.
But here's the kicker: Among this group of cars, the Boxster's pricing is actually quite reasonable, even with a few choice options thrown in. True, the 2014 Porsche Boxster costs a bit more than its predecessor, but when you drive this convertible sports car, you'll definitely feel as if you're getting more in return.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Porsche Boxster is a two-seat convertible offered in base and S trims.
The base model comes equipped with 18-inch wheels, a power-operated soft top, an automatically extending rear spoiler, heated exterior mirrors, cruise control, six-way adjustable seats (power backrest, manual fore/aft and height), a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, air-conditioning, partial leather upholstery, Bluetooth, a 4.6-inch TFT driver information display, a 7-inch color infotainment display and a four-speaker sound system with an auxiliary audio jack.
The Boxster S adds a more powerful engine, 19-inch wheels, bi-xenon headlights and red-painted brake calipers.
As usual, Porsche will happily double the price of your Boxster if you select enough options. The Convenience package adds a wind deflector, heated seats and dual-zone automatic climate control. Upgrading to the Premium package nets those features plus adaptive headlights (bi-xenon for the base Boxster), auto-dimming mirrors, 10-way adjustable power sport seats (with four-way power lumbar), driver memory functions and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. An expanded version of the Premium package adds 14-way adaptive sport seats (also with four-way power lumbar) to the mix. The Infotainment package gets a navigation system, satellite radio, HD radio, smartphone integration via the Aha Radio app, a USB port and either a 10-speaker Bose audio system or a considerably pricier 12-speaker Burmester audio system.
Some of the above items -- the Bose stereo and the various seat designs (including heating and cooling functions), for example -- can be added separately, along with special wheel designs up to 20 inches in diameter, electronic torque vectoring with a mechanical limited-slip rear differential, an adaptive suspension, ceramic composite brakes, variable-ratio steering, front and rear parking sensors and a sport steering wheel with PDK shift paddles. Serious driving enthusiasts should consider 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. A sport exhaust system (with a cool on/off button on the center console) is also available.
Additional interior options include a heated steering wheel, voice controls, ambient lighting and numerous customization options that will cover just about any interior surface you like with leather, aluminum, carbon fiber, wood trim or paint.
Powertrains and Performance
All Boxsters utilize a rear-wheel-drive layout and either the standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional seven-speed automated manual transmission known as PDK. Porsche also provides a standard (and fully defeatable) auto stop-start system to conserve fuel when the car is stationary.
Under the hood, the base 2014 Boxster rolls with a 2.7-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine (flat-6) rated at 265 horsepower and 206 pound-feet of torque -- 10 hp and 7 lb-ft less than its hardtop Cayman sibling, if you're scoring at home. The stick shift gets the base Boxster to 60 mph in a shade under 5.8 seconds, according to Porsche, while PDK is a tenth of a second quicker by default and three-tenths quicker with the Sport Chrono package's launch control. EPA fuel economy estimates are 20 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined with the manual and an even more impressive 22/32/26 with PDK.
The Boxster S steps up to a 3.4-liter flat-6 that churns out 315 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds testing, an S model with the manual transmission accelerated from zero to 60 in a swift 4.9 seconds; expect the PDK with launch control to drop that time into the mid 4s. Fuel economy remains a strong suit at 20/28/23 combined with the manual and 21/30/24 with PDK.
Standard safety features for the 2014 Porsche Boxster include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, four airbags (two in front and one thorax/head airbag on each side) and rollover safety hoops above the headrests. In Edmunds brake testing, a Boxster S with the standard (non-ceramic) brakes came to a stop from 60 mph in a short 103 feet.
Note that Boxsters equipped with the stand-alone adaptive cruise control option are also treated to Porsche Active Safe, which uses the cruise-control radar to monitor collision probabilities up to 650 feet in front of the vehicle. The system can operate even when cruise is inactive, and its emergency responses range from simply priming the brakes to applying them with maximum force. If that freaks you out, don't worry. You can turn it off.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Boxster's cabin is almost as striking as its exterior styling. In contrast to the previous model's forgettable interior layout, the current design shines, boasting top-shelf materials and a dramatic (if button-heavy) center console that borrows directly from the executive-class Panamera. There's nary a sign of cost-cutting anywhere you look or touch; this is an environment that's fully commensurate with Porsche prices.
Further refinement is found in the convertible top itself, which gets extra sound-deadening material and now yields one of the quietest enclosed rides of any soft-top roadster we've driven. The Boxster's notorious blind spots remain, however. So if you've got 10 seconds to spare and aren't exceeding 31 mph, it's generally best to put the top down.
Thanks to its modestly stretched size and lower front seats, the 2014 Boxster can accommodate taller passengers without issue. But the two trunks -- one front, one rear -- remain too small to swallow a golf bag or even a large piece of luggage, so their respectable 10 cubic feet of combined cargo space doesn't tell the whole story. On the bright side, rear trunk space is unaffected when the top's down, a distinct advantage relative to retractable-hardtop rivals like the Z4 and SLK.
If you drive a 2014 Porsche Boxster, chances are you won't want to return the key. Compact dimensions, a midengine layout and Porsche's usual suspension-tuning magic join forces to produce some of the best road manners in all of autodom. The ride is firm but seldom jarring, and the handling doesn't get much better than this until you start looking at sports cars with six-figure price tags. As good as the 911 Cabriolet is, it's a significantly larger car and having an engine over the rear axle doesn't help its cause. We're not the first to observe that a Boxster with equal power might prove to be the better overall package.
In point of fact, the Boxster S runs neck and neck with a base 911, and only truly depraved power fiends will find its sonorous 315-hp flat-6 wanting. If you fit that description, you may find yourself musing that a bit more punch would be welcome for uphill climbs. Sane people, on the other hand, will find the base Boxster's sweet engine a more than willing companion, with the S motor a delightful but perhaps not altogether necessary indulgence.