There were only ever two reasons not to buy a Boxster over its rivals in the past. Both of those have, however, been solved with the all-new third-generation entry-level Porsche.
FOR PAMPERED PURISTS
|1. The 3rd generation Boxster is lighter (2,954 lbs), longer, wider and lower.
2. A smaller 2.7L flat-six makes 265 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque for a 0-60 time of 5.5 seconds or 5.2 with the PDK and Sport Chrono package.
3. Starting at $49,500 our test car retails for closer to $70k.
First up is the interior. Always respectable, past generations have better reflected the car’s purist driving sensation, rather than the luxuriousness one might associate with a German brand. True, the original Z4 was rather Spartan, but it’s now more of a grand-tourer, something the Mercedes SLK always has been.
The new Boxster’s interior is more coastline cruiser than track warrior and that’s far from being a bad thing. The car’s purists driving sensation has been retained, while luxury has been added in. There’s something to be said about the sensation of putting up with a Lotus Elise in order to enjoy its nimbleness, but there’s also nothing wrong with spoiling yourself.
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Some of the biggest changes include a new three-pot gauge cluster that replaces the old unit, with the farthest right gauge featuring an LCD screen that can show everything from what radio station you’re on, to the Navigation map, to a G-meter ¬– when equipped with the optional Sport Chrono package.
In addition, the center console has been raised to mimic that of the Panamera, with easy to reach buttons running up the slope, while the 7-inch display screen is now higher up on the dash.
Porsche purists may have opposed the Panamera, but they should be thankful, as it ushered in a new era of more luxurious interiors for the brand.
Living with the Boxster for two weeks, we did notice one drawback of the optional Sport Chrono package, namely that the simple sport steering wheel doesn’t include redundant audio controls. Again, purists may scoff, but trust us, if you drive your Boxster more than just on Sunday afternoons, you’ll miss those buttons.
A CUP HOLDER CRISIS
That little foible is nothing, however, compared to the level of anger, even hatred, we have for Porsche’s cup holders.
From a company that prides itself on building daily driven sports cars, Porsche’s cup holders are an oversight equivalent to faulty air conditioning or a broken radio (something we also experienced in our test car, with an odd glitch where we couldn’t override a past radio station preset). And if you’re a Starbucks addict, which is pretty much a qualification for owning a Boxster, they might be as big of a letdown as finding out your new Porsche doesn’t have a steering wheel.
Hidden away in the passenger side of the dash, they pop out with a touch of your finger, but that’s where the novelty ends. They’re flimsy and shallow, meaning that once you go around a corner (something a Boxster begs you to do) the weight of your tall late will force the little ring to open and your drink to spill. Or worse, the surprise of that happening and your reaction to limit the flow of stain-inducing caffeinated beverage all over the Boxster’s wonderfully reworked interior may cause you to take your eyes off the road and slam into a highway guardrail.
Does that sound like an extreme scenario? Perhaps. It certainly felt pretty extreme when it almost happened to us.
Lessons learned. 1. Don’t drink coffee in the Boxster. 2. Complain bitterly about not being able to drink coffee in the Boxster.
NEW PROPORTIONS AND A GREAT NEW LOOK
So with the cup holders obviously not one of the upgrades in the 2013 Boxster, you don’t need to look anywhere to see how else its been improved. It’s staring you in the face.
The 2013 Boxster simply looks stunning. Gone is the bubbly jellybean design of the old car in favor of a Carrera GT inspired look. It’s longer by just over an inch, though the wheelbase has been stretched by almost two inches with the wheels pushed even further to the edges of the body. Helping make it more aggressive, it’s wider in the rear by a half-inch and gains 1.5-inches more in the front, while the car overall sits a half inch lower to the ground.
LOOKS FASTER THAN IT IS
This amazing new design, however, brings into question the Boxster’s performance. With a 0-60 trim of 5.5 seconds in base trim, it’s no slouch. Our test car featured both the 7-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic and Sport Chrono Package, which drops the sprint time down to 5.2 seconds, though that still feels a little underwhelming compared to how fast it looks.
Due to a new light weight aluminum chassis, the Boxster now weighs less than ever before at under 3,000 lbs. As a result, it doesn’t require a great deal of power to push it. And that’s obvious when you look at the numbers on paper, which for a sports car, are remarkably low.
Power output is a modest 265 hp, while torque is a surprisingly diminutive 206 lb-ft. That number is actually down from 2012, when the Boxster made 216 lb-ft. Part of the reason is the 200 cc smaller engine, which displaces just 2.7-liters.
The downsizing efforts can be felt in your right foot, with little in the way of extra oomph beyond 80 percent throttle. Thankfully, you’ll also notice when you visit the gas pump, with our test car achieving an almost unbelievable 28 mpg average.
Fuel economy aside, it’s by no means a difficult argument here to suggest the Boxster S model. With 315 hp on tap from a sizably larger 3.4-liter flat-six engine, we’d wager that’s enough to make it feel more like a 911 in terms of performance. Backing up our assumption is a downright fast 4.4 second 0-60 time.
Thankfully the Boxster isn’t and never has been about straight line acceleration so even the non-S model delivers plenty of fun.
SOUNDS EVEN BETTER
And rivaling the car’s balance and finesse is its exhaust note. There’s nothing fancy about it. Simply put, it’s the sort of raw resonating tone the brand has become famous for, and if you close your eyes (not while you’re driving, please) you’ll think you’re listening to the opened exhaust of a Porsche race car from the ‘70s.
Drive it calmly and it’s blissfully muted with the new chassis offering a comfort-oriented ride and the cabin a restful place even with the top down. Press the Sport button and the steering and throttle firm up to near race-car like levels, as do the shocks when equipped with the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system. Further pushing the performance envelope is a torque vectoring setup that essentially delivers limited slip differential levels of grip by adding brake to the inside wheel in a corner to help the car rotate.
While many of the extra goodies will cost you more and add quickly to the base price of the Boxster, it does start at a refreshingly modest $49,500. Not exactly a bargain, we are talking about buying a German sports car here. Adding an S to the end will tack-on an addition $10k-plus for a $60,900 starting price.
Perhaps not quite as daily drivable as a Mercedes SLK with its retractable hard top, the Boxster’s soft cover does an impressive job of blocking out the world when you need or want to. It’s easy to carry on a Bluetooth conversation and doesn’t hamper rearward visibility to any significant degree.
COMPETITION: Read our review on the 2012 Mercedes SLK350
Giving up little to its rivals in the segment, the Boxster offers so much more in other areas, from dynamics to pure enjoyment.
A testament to German engineering, it retains its best features while now being both more luxurious and vastly better looking. Now if only Porsche would focus its engineering prowess on building cup holders.