2013 Porsche Boxster S Road Test Review
2013 Porsche Boxster adds technology and capability without losing its soul
Scores High: Superb dynamics, impressive balance of power and efficiency, innovative convertible top design
Scores Low: Limited rear visibility with roof up, oversized wheels and tires create a lot of road noise, pricey
Total Car Score Analysis
Porsche doesn't disappoint with its all-new 2013 Boxster S. Lower, wider and lighter than its predecessor, it is also quicker and more fuel efficient. The engineers sweated the details, as a marginally longer wheelbase provides a better ride without compromising the Boxster’s segment-leading handling. The icing on the cake is a well-insulated power-operated convertible top that raises and lowers in less than 10 seconds — twice as fast as the competition.
While it performs admirably on both road and track, the 2013 Porsche Boxster is less impressive when analyzed from a pure cost/benefit perception. This roadster is not only the most expensive vehicle in its class, it’s also the least luxurious. Does that make the new Boxster a “bad” deal. Not if you love to drive.
Porsche's all-new third-generation Boxster is offered in two models, each differentiated by the displacement of its mid-mounted engine. The standard model, known simply as the Boxster, is powered by a 2.7-liter flat-6 rated at 265 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. The range-topping Boxster S model, the vehicle we tested for this review, features upgraded performance equipment and a more powerful 3.4-liter engine generating 315 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. Both are rear-wheel drive and offered with a choice between a traditional six-speed manual transmission and a seven-speed dual-clutch "PDK" automated gearbox.
The 2013 Boxster S with a PDK transmission is one quick sports car — it will hit 60 mph in less than five seconds. The dual-clutch gearbox (with second-generation software) seems to possess a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality. It is buttery smooth when driven with a gentle touch in its default configuration, yet shifts become lightning fast and very deliberate when pushed aggressively in Sport Plus mode. While many still prefer the manual gearbox, Porsche's automated dual-clutch automatic remains an industry benchmark.
The new Boxster’s suspension is also every bit as capable, balancing firm damping without being too harsh (our vehicle was fitted with Porsche's PASM adaptive suspension). The engine is behind the passenger compartment, allowing a well-balanced chassis with mass over the driving wheels. As a result, handling and agility are excellent, with quick and precise turn-in that builds confidence. The variable-ratio electromechanical power steering, new to the 2013 Boxster lineup, is precise and still delivers intuitive feedback to your fingers on the steering wheel.
According to the manufacturer, the 2013 Porsche Boxster S with PDK will earn 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway. Premium unleaded fuel is recommended.
Interior Design and Function
Anyone familiar with Porsche's Panamera sedan or new 911 will feel immediately at home within the two-place cabin of the completely redesigned Boxster, as the automaker has adopted its now-familiar interior architecture for this newest model.
The Boxster’s primary instrument cluster remains a three-ring affair, with a large analog tachometer taking the center spotlight. The left ring is reserved for an analog speedometer (calibrated to 190 mph), while the right ring is a new, very legible multi-function TFT display — the driver chooses what he or she wants to see.
A much larger digital touch-screen display resides at the top of the center stack, offering volumes of information regarding infotainment and navigation, while the HVAC system resides below it. The traditional transmission housing sits just below your right hand, while several small buttons take up the rest of the central control area. Primary instrumentation is clear, concise and easy to read at a glance. However, the driver's eyes must be removed from the road to work most of the Boxster’s accessories.
The bucket seats are comfortable enough for extended highway cruising yet supportive enough to keep occupants in place over serpentine asphalt. The third-generation Boxster has extended seat travel, thanks to its longer wheelbase, and drivers up to 6-foot 4-inches fit without issue. Headroom is also generous (even with a helmet). Outward visibility with the top down is excellent, but a closed roof reveals thick B-pillars that restrict visibility to the rear three-quarters. Thankfully the exterior mirrors are effective, removing some of the top-up, lane-changing stress.
The Boxster’s infotainment and navigation system offer high-quality displays in both the center stack and primary instrument cluster, but the interface is unintuitive and initially confusing. The touch-screen works well, even in direct sunlight, though fingerprints remain a visible annoyance.
Primary Features and Options
Boxster models arrive with full power accessories, dual-zone climate control and partial leather seats, but otherwise are very light when it comes to creature comforts and amenities. A power-operated electrically operated soft convertible top with a heated glass rear window is standard, however. Aside from its larger engine, the 2013 Porsche Boxster arrives with standard 18-inch wheels, while the Boxster S is fitted with 19-inch wheels from the factory. The cabins, for the most part, are identical on both models.
As is typical with Porsche, the options list is vast and varied. Buyers may opt for metallic exterior paint ($710) or other special colors ($2,580). Alternate roof colors are also offered. The small cabin may be appointed with a variety of seats and full leather ($2,385). The upgraded infotainment system ($3,860) includes navigation, but when bundled with the Bose audio package the price increases ($4,560).
Performance options, such as those fitted to our test vehicle, include larger wheels and tires, the Sport Chrono package ($2,370), Porsche Torque Vectoring ($1,320), Porsche Active Suspension Management ($1,790), and the automaker's performance-tuned PDK automatic transmission ($3,200).
It’s Perfect For…
The 2013 Porsche Boxster is for the discerning automotive enthusiast who demands that their roadster perform every bit as well on the street as it does on the track.
Unlike competitive automakers that often tweak and upgrade existing platforms to increase performance, the new Porsche Boxster was engineered from the first stroke of the engineer’s pencil to maximize driving enthusiasm. This two-seater is involving and engaging to sling down a twisty road — it’s truly a no-compromise sports car.
And while the 2013 Porsche Boxster is relatively expensive, to the discerning automotive enthusiast who demands a perfectly balanced drop top conveyance, motoring doesn't get much better.
Vehicle Tested: 2013 Porsche Boxster S
Base MSRP of Test Vehicle: $60,900
Options on Test Vehicle: Racing Yellow paint (included), Black leather interior ($2,385), Premium package ($3,760), Sport Chrono package ($2,370), Porsche Torque Vectoring ($1,320), Porsche Active Suspension Management ($1,790), Doppelkupplung "PDK" automatic transmission ($3,200), 20-inch Carrera S wheels ($1,560) and Destination ($950).
MSRP of Test Vehicle (including destination charge): $78,235
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The manufacturer provided Total Car Score this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Photos Courtesy of the manufacturer.