Reviews

2013 Porsche Boxster Driving Impressions



The heart of any Porsche is its powertrain. The 2013 Boxster migrates from a 2.9-liter flat-six to one displacing only 2.7 liters. It's largely the same engine and, perhaps to a buyer's pleasant surprise, it makes about 10 more horsepower thanks to some cylinder-head and exhaust revisions. Output of the 2.7-liter is at 265 hp at 6700 rpm. Torque slips by 7 from last year to 206 pound-feet at 4400-6500 rpm. But that had no discernable impact on performance: The Boxster delivers solid 5.5-second 0 to 60 times with the manual gearbox, according to Porsche, 5.4 seconds with the PDK transmission, 5.2 seconds with Sport Chrono and PDK. Premium fuel is required. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 20/30 mpg City/Highway with manual gearbox, 22/32 mpg with PDK.

Boxster S, with its 3.4-liter flat-six, gets another 5 horsepower for 2013, at 315 hp at 6700 rpm. Torque remains 266 lb-ft at 4500-5800 rpm. Porsche says Boxster S can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds with 6-speed manual, 4.7 seconds with PDK, 4.5 seconds with PDK with Sport Chrono. Fuel economy for the Boxster S is 20/28 mpg with manual, according to the U.S. government, 21/30 mpg with the PDK. That's all using Premium.

We spent most of our time during our Alabama sojourn in a Boxster equipped with the Porsche Doppelkupplung, or PDK, or dual clutch, for those whose tongues twist into pretzels trying to pronounce German techno-speak. The reality is that the Porsche semi-manual package is so good and so quick it will be the option of choice for the majority of buyers, especially those who expect to spend significant time stuck in traffic. No clutch pedal with PDK.

We were disappointed Porsche didn't migrate the new 7-speed manual gearbox first introduced on the 2012 911 into the new Boxster, but the 6-speed manual is a fine compromise for those who can't fathom a car like this with anything but a stick.

Another debate centers around the 2013 Boxster's new electro-hydraulic steering system, a concept we first saw introduced with the seventh-generation 911. We fall somewhere in the middle of the discussion. There's no question it improves fuel economy. And, if anything, we agree with Porsche engineers that they had even more time to tweak and tune the steering system since the 911 rolled out. It is responsive and precise but it doesn't deliver quite the direct road feel of the classic hydraulic steering box.

The biggest weakness is that there is no progressive build-up, you feel the same degree of resistance in a tight, high-speed corner as you do during a moderate-speed, less aggressive turn.

Nonetheless, the overall road manners of the new Boxster are so good that it's easy to forgive that minor flaw. If anything, the new roadster only encourages more and more aggressive driving, as we discovered during our time behind the wheel both at the Barber race track, and during a couple hours of driving through the hill-and-dale Deep South countryside. We turned around after charging one particularly challenging uphill series of tight S-turns to see how much further we could press into the corner before hearing the tires chirp. It took several attempts and even then we were confident we hadn't come close to the car's limits.

Adding to our confidence was the Sport Chronos Package which features some trick magnetorehological transmission mounts. That's the same basic technology you'll find in a number of new high-performance suspension systems, including those from Ferrari, and on the Cadillac V-Series. By varying the power sent to electromagnets surrounding the mounts, which are filled with a ferrous-based fluid, it effectively stiffens or softens, all but instantaneously.

Another option introduced on the Boxster is the new Porsche Torque Vectoring system, or PTV, which uses both the locking rear differential and rear brakes to effectively shift torque from side-to-side to improve cornering.

Even without those options, the 2013 Boxster's wider track keeps the two-seater firmly planted and willing to respond to even the most demanding driver inputs.

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