Vital Stats

Engine:
3.4L Flat-6
Power:
315 HP / 266 LB-FT
Transmission:
7-Speed PDK
0-60 Time:
4.6 Seconds
Top Speed:
172 MPH
Drivetrain:
Rear-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
2,910 LBS
Seating:
2
Cargo:
5.3 (front) / 4.6 (rear) CU-FT
MPG:
TBD
A Reminder To Drive



After five days in Europe, I'm finally able to count the number of hours I've slept on both my hands and feet. I've been stuck in this sort of schmoozing fugue state for the past few days, part hapless journalist, part aimless wanderer.

The Geneva Motor Show is over. Covered. Done. But my trip isn't even halfway through. There's one last thing to do and that's drive the all-new Porsche Boxster. That means another flight. Another shuttle. Another hotel. And yet another press conference. This one I actually care about. It's just too bad I can barely focus, let alone take notes.

Chassis codes, curb weights, gear ratios and torque figures fly through the air. I manage to catch a few and jot them down. I'm running below E, barely fueled by some post-show adrenaline, copious quantities of caffeine and the occasional upbeat of my flustered circadian rhythms.

But I'm keeping my eye on the prize. One day with the new version of one of my favorite rides in one of the most beautiful parts of the world.

Walter Röhrl flashes on the asymmetrical jumbotron towards the end of the over-the-top PowerPoint presentation. He's driving the Boxster. I desperately want to be him. Right now. And that's when I hear him say part of our drive route will be the Monte Carlo Special Stage of the World Rally Championship. Another night of partial insomnia is now guaranteed.
2013 Porsche Boxster S side view2013 Porsche Boxster S front view2013 Porsche Boxster S rear view

This is the 2013 Porsche Boxster S. The nerds among us will refer to it by its chassis code, 981. As Porsche is all too happy to point out, it's the direct descendant of a long line of Porsche roadsters, beginning with the 356.

The Speedster's flat-four put out considerably less than this new Boxster, but it also weighed two-thirds as much. The 981 tips the scales around 2,900 pounds – still relatively svelte by modern standards – and Porsche's obsessive attention to tonnage becomes a regular topic of conversation.

Case in point: The 2013 Boxster is available with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed PDK gearbox. When asked about the decision not to include a seventh, fuel-economy cheater gear (à la the new 911), engineers cited the additional weight. "But the PDK weighs just as much?" I ask, pointing out the fallacy in their logic. "Yes, but the manual driver is different." Now there's some truth in engineering.

2013 Porsche Boxster S PDK shifter2013 Porsche Boxster S shifter

Porsche is surprisingly happy to admit that the 356 was a hit with the ladies. The original prototype was supposedly sold to a woman and later repurchased by Porsche and Co., and nearly half a century later, the Boxster's reputation as the Ladies' Porsche has continued to endure. It's idiotic. Thoroughly and completely. It's something that changed slightly with the last generation (987) and my hosts' design team makes it clear that this latest iteration was designed to be "more masculine."

You're inevitably going to see some shades of Carrera GT in the 981's sheetmetal, particularly when viewed in profile, with the deeply sculpted doors feeding air into the two (functional) air intakes ahead of the rear wheels. But viewed from the front and rear, the details haven't been pulled from an eight-year-old supercar. They're from a new one. The 918 Spyder.

The fascia is more stately than shapely, with shades of the 904 in the headlamps, while taillamps combine the 991's vertical slats and the 918's upkicked rear. Look closer and you'll notice the lights protrude outward in the middle, forming a solid sweeping line across the back that incorporates into the rear spoiler. Per usual, Porsche design is looking forward – albeit incrementally – and the director of styling admits to developing the new Boxster "cautiously." Still, few automakers make their wares look so similar while causing the outgoing model to look so dated.

2013 Porsche Boxster S headlight2013 Porsche Boxster S wheel2013 Porsche Boxster S side intake2013 Porsche Boxster S rear spoiler

Inside it's similar, with the now standard Panamera-inspired central tunnel dominating the interior, rising high above the waist, but mercifully slathered in far less switchgear.

As we've come to expect from Porsche, it's a driver-centric cockpit, with the right buttons in the right places. Sport, Sport+, Adaptive Damper and Traction controls are directly next to the driver, with the convertible switches mounted in the middle and the spoiler, exhaust and auto start-stop button near the passenger.

Climate, seat, audio and navigation controls are similar to what you'll find in the 911, as is the new instrument panel ahead of the driver, which has the speedometer on the left, the tach in the middle and a new configurable TFT display on the right providing data for everything from navigation to audio, phone, tire pressure and, yes, even a G meter.

2013 Porsche Boxster S interior2013 Porsche Boxster S seats2013 Porsche Boxster S sport chrono2013 Porsche Boxster S center console controls

The steering wheel comes in a few flavors: totally bereft of redundant controls (in a manual model); fitted with Porsche's infuriatingly unintuitive push-for-upshift, pull for downshift PDK paddles on both sides; or the more pleasurable dual paddle shifters, with up on the left and down on the right.

The wheel measures in at 330mm, which feels a little large for something this size. I asked about a smaller tiller and was told that it would interfere with gauge visibility. Probably, but I still want it. And that's one of a thousand reasons I'm not a Porsche engineer. The only other gripe is a relative lack of interior storage, particularly in the doors, but such is the price of a small footprint and a compact cabin. And anyway, you've always got two trunks.

On the topic of dimensions, the 981 Boxster is 40mm wider up front, but the overall width is the same. It's also grown a bit longer (less than an inch), the wheelbase has been stretched by 60mm, and overall height has been reduced by 10mm. That last bit is thanks to an all-new cloth roof that makes use of magnesium and aluminum to keep weight down, and it surely helps to achieve the scant nine seconds it takes to put the roof up or down at 31 mph and below. The world doesn't need another video of a folding roof, but I put Porsche's claim to the test using its center-mounted Sports Chrono clock.


Porsche is proudly joining the party when it comes to weight reduction, with the standard Boxster weighing in at 2,888 pounds and the S model tacking on an additional 22 pounds, making this model around 100 pounds lighter than the 987 before it. Weight distribution stays the same, with a Porsche-approved rear weight bias of 46:54.

With the reduction in weight, you could forgive Porsche for simply slapping the existing engines in and calling it a day, but that's not very Germanic. Instead, Porsche has reduced the displacement of the standard engine from 2.9 to 2.7 liters, bringing output up an additional 10 horsepower in the process for a total of 265 ponies. Torque, however, is down some seven pound-feet to 206, available from 4,500 to 6,500 rpm. Fortunately or unfortunately, Porsche only had two of these "base" models on hand and they would mysteriously disappeared during the day. I was kind of okay with that, so the S it was...

While the the new entry engine and the S' 3.4-liter flat-six are both 15 percent more efficient (both in terms of fuel economy and CO2 emissions), the S engine has been boosted to 315 hp (a five-hp bump), with torque remaining the same as before at 266 lb-ft (between 4,500 and 5,800 rpm). New intakes and exhausts coupled with direct injection are the only notable changes, but like everything else from Porsche, it's been obsessively fussed over in the pursuit of efficiency.

2013 Porsche Boxster S logo2013 Porsche Boxster S badge

Auto start-stop is now standard on both models no matter which transmission you choose. Assuming you haven't engaged Sport, the system acts as expected, shutting down the midship mill at traffic lights and making the cabin so eerily quiet that you can hear the Sport Chrono clock ticking the seconds away. That same level of finely honed NVH is obvious when traveling on the freeway – top up or down – or on a particularly pockmarked backroad detour in the south of France.

Optioning up for the S with the PDK transmission also nets you active transmission mounts, utilizing the same magnetorheological fluid you'd find in the 911's engine girdles that alternatively loosen or firm things up when the going gets twisty.

That level of adaption also comes into play with the Sport and Sport+ settings, which change throttle and steering settings based on driver inputs and slightly overlap so there's less button-pressing for the occasional spirited blast. The new Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV) is equally cooperative, chattering away at the rear brake calipers to make the front tuck in under cornering and sort the rear out. A fully electronic diff is sure to be sitting on a test bench in Stuttgart, but for now, this is it. And it all works to glorious effect.

A five-hour drive through the mountains and villages outside of Nice proves that Porsche continues to be a master in the subtle art of refinement.

2013 Porsche Boxster S paddle shifter2013 Porsche Boxster S sport plus button

The electro-hydraulic steering lightens up at lower speeds and gets chatty once you're over 30 mph, providing nearly as much feedback through your palms as its predecessor. The extra front track is a bit much for narrow roads, but the additional grip is more than welcome, even if it comes at the expense of some of the old model's chuckability. Mid-corner corrections are a dab of throttle away and only the most hamfisted can exceed the limits of grip and sanity on public roads.

With no base models available for testing, I resigned myself to a PDK-equipped S before snagging a six-speed manual later in the day. Like all modern Porsche offerings, the double-clutch gearbox is both quicker and more adaptable than the rube behind the wheel. And for what it's worth, the PDK car is also good for a 7:58 run around the Nürburgring – some 12 seconds less than its predecessor. Zero to 60 happens in 4.8 seconds when launched in Sport+.

The manual, on the other hand, is still slick and gives up a few tenths to 60 over the PDK. The clutch is light enough for daily commute duty and the pedals are properly positioned for quick heel-and-toe action. My choice? For a vehicle like the Boxster, the PDK feels right. The manual simply feels righter. 'Ring times be damned.

2013 Porsche Boxster S rear 3/4 view

Nail the throttle and gravity goes horizontal. It's not overwhelming, but it's enough to make your sphincter suck in the seat. More importantly, it's predictable, allowing you to modulate and correct mid-corner without fear of overwhelming the rear or pushing the front. It's the perfect blend of balance and answers the question about why Porsche didn't go with a turbocharged mill for its latest entry-level roadster.

The same logic applies with the standard brakes, which stood proud throughout the drive. Four piston aluminum calipers clamp onto 330mm discs up front and 299mm in back, and there's an optional carbon ceramic setup if you want it. But the only time you would is if it had more power, and just like both Boxsters before it, it's obvious the chassis could handle more oomph with aplomb. That's as far as I'll go in the Boxster-hobbled-to-sate-911-sales debate, but I know of at least one senior engineer who wholeheartedly agrees with me.

Seven hours later, I'm back at another hotel for one last night before catching a flight home. The roads were perfect. The new Boxster even more so. And the run through the Monte Carlo stage was the harrowing rollercoaster I'd hoped for. For the first time in a week, I sleep through the night, my mind finally cleared through the overtaxed, jet-lagged fog. I can concentrate on what matters most. That's what a great drive in a greater car does. And every now and then, you need to be reminded of it. The new Boxster does that.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 91 Comments
      Vien Huynh
      • 2 Years Ago
      I dont care if anyone call it a poor man porsche, or too feminine; IT IS PERFECT FOR A SUNNY WEEKEND DRIVE!!!!!
      th0mb0ne
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good stuff. Can't wait for the Cayman.
      Jake
      • 2 Years Ago
      "The steering wheel comes in a few flavors: totally bereft of redundant controls (in a manual model); fitted with Porsche's infuriatingly unintuitive push-for-upshift, pull for downshift PDK paddles on both sides; or the more pleasurable dual paddle shifters, with up on the left and down on the right." I don't understand why manufacturers don't let the user customize control interfaces like these. It can be done for virtually no cost; it's all in the electronics.
        sick of stupidity
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jake
        easy answer: lawyers and courts. Nobody wants major systems programable where they can get things mixed up.
      Shotgunner
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Still, few automakers make their wares look so similar while causing the outgoing model to look so dated." I agree 100%, but hadn't been able to express it so succinctly. I was never a big fan of the Boxter's styling, but this new one dropped my jaw when I first saw photos. Can't wait to see it in person. I was similarly impressed when the 997 911 replaced the 996. Great article!
      JB Kolod
      • 2 Years Ago
      I love the fact that Porsche is throwing bits of its carrera GT and 918 on everything. Those two cars are absolutely beautiful and I think it's great Porsche is trying to evoke that styling in all of their new cars.
      disngaj
      • 2 Years Ago
      'Nicely written review, Damon: Danke!
      stuck in 90s
      • 2 Years Ago
      This should be named as driver's best car (for both women and men)!
      brgtlm
      • 2 Years Ago
      I would be very happy driving a Boxster or Cayman - Porsches that are actually somewhat in reach of the non 1%. I've perused the various used car sites and the Boxster, in particular, makes a very used car purchase for a lightly used 1-2 year old one. The Boxster doesn't seem to hold its value as well as the Cayman since convertibles really only appeal to a small segment of the population.
        MJC
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brgtlm
        I've owned both a Boxster and a modern 911 and I can tell you that the Boxster is the more enjoyable daily driver.
        th0mb0ne
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brgtlm
        I'm definitely not part of the 1%, and bought a used 4 year old Cayman last summer. Best decision ever. It was the same price of a new GTI or WRX....so in many ways a no-brainer. It will take some compromises (mostly on space), but totally doable, and absolutely effin' worth it! The only annoying thing is people making "so, things must be going well" comments....never mind the fact I paid way less than their SUV/truck cost.
        superchan7
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brgtlm
        I am also a happy owner of a Cayman that I bought at 2 years old. The 987 Boxster/Cayman, when bought lightly used, is definitely a feasible sports car for the financially comfortable. The 3 kickers are: 1) Maintenance costs will be several times that of your friend's Camry, especially if you don't DIY. Budget for it. 2) Depending on your career, people at work may be judgmental. This is especially true with Gen-Y and younger, where people tend to be less interested in cars and quicker to judge them. 3) Your passenger capacity is 1. Your homeboss will need to approve. Surprisingly, grocery capacity is very good, especially in the Cayman with its two large boots. This helps convince the homeboss in item 3. That said, I am nervous about the new 981 Cayman's imminent release. I'm worried that I will want one very badly.
        brgtlm
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brgtlm
        th0mb0ne - totally agree. Some people are just wrapped up in needing a brand, spanking new Porsche so they can get some depreciation they drive way.
          pixelaided
          • 2 Years Ago
          @brgtlm
          Hmmm.... I bought a brand new Cayman in '09. Optioned it exactly the way I wanted it and got to design the interior. Best decision I ever made. I only bought "brand spanking new" because nothing on the lot was to my liking. It's already paid for, so it can depreciate all it wants. I'm happy.
        kcroc10077
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brgtlm
        The previous gen models (until 2009-2010 I think) had the RMS issues. I'm sure that's pushing down values. There's is a fix and from what I can tell that's the first things new buyers have done.
        over9000
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brgtlm
        maintenance can be afforded by the 1%.... maintaining a luxury performance vehicle is a different world, it's not simple as purchasing a $30k Porsche and you're done.
        stahlee
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brgtlm
        I leased a new 07 Boxster S which I really did enjoy driving. It had some electrical problems that they just could not fix, kept coming back. The car certainly did not hold value. It was worth 9k less than the residual when i turne fit back in. Used is definitely the way to go if you're buying. I have to say this is a great looking car. Really loving this new look which is making me want another one. Although, I'd probably go with a Cayman S this time around.
      bananapimpin
      • 2 Years Ago
      Your videos SUCK BALLS! A 30 second ad for a 18 second video where you open and raise the roof!
      bobmarley
      • 2 Years Ago
      "For a vehicle like the Boxster, the PDK feels right. The manual simply feels righter. 'Ring times be damned." "Nail the throttle and gravity goes horizontal. It's not overwhelming, but it's enough to make your sphincter suck in the seat." lol....this is a cool car. I never really liked the original boxster but this I lust after.
      AU3783
      • 2 Years Ago
      this car is awesome, and I like the new styling a lot. the red interior though seems a little bit too much red for my own taste.
      canuckcharlie
      • 2 Years Ago
      As expected, Porsche is not putting in the 7-speed manual on initial launch. Just like back in 05 when last gen boxster came out, the non-S model had a 5-speed manual.
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