December 22, 2014

2013 Porsche Boxster S: The ‘starter Porsche’ gets a mild redesign

2013 Porsche Boxster S

2013 Porsche Boxster S2013 Porsche Boxster SAnyone who has ever driven a Boxster might wonder how this could be Porsche’s entry-level sports car. Redesigned for 2013, the Boxster is a model of refinement, poise and performance, but it’s merely the opening act for a show that’s dominated by the legendary 911. 

Boxsters we’ve driven in past years were modestly powered compared with American sports cars like the Chevrolet Corvette, and even Japanese entries like the Nissan 370Z. Yet they handled so impeccably, the lack of a 436-horsepower V-8 seemed almost irrelevant. The Boxster’s engine is mounted amidships, contributing to the two-seater’s uncanny sense of balance. And Porsche has been adding ponies. 

Our test car, a GT Silver Metallic Boxster S with a red cloth top and Carrera Red natural leather interior, was blessed with 315 horsepower to motivate a car that weighs less than 3,000 pounds. It is rated at 20 mpg city, 28 highway, on super premium (93 octane) gasoline. The engine shuts off during stops but spins back to life quickly and unobtrusively. 

Porsche says the Boxster S can race to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds and has a top speed of 172. The base 265-horsepower Boxster is a lot easier on the pocketbook. It’s priced at $49,500 before options, compared with $60,900 for the S model. 

But if you want to dress up or personalize your Porsche, the price tag will take on the appearance of the National Debt Clock. Options brought the price of our Boxster S to $88,720. The 911 coupe costs $10,000 less. 

Thanks to the redesign, the Boxster is a little bigger and roomier, with more stylized sheet metal. The fundamental size, shape and personality are unmolested, however. Upon seeing an older black Boxster in a Southington parking lot, we noted its lines are plainer, almost understated. While there’s something to be said for simplicity, the new model does impart a sense of renewed of energy and excitement. 

Aside from its magnificent performance, the Boxster has more than its share of appealing qualities. Shifting is intuitive and effortless, making the Boxster an ideal vehicle for teaching teenagers how to operate a manual gearbox. While access and egress are challenging for big, tall adults of a certain age, the interior is roomy, the seats supportive and comfortable. The new model is quieter than its predecessors, but with the same pleasing tone from the mid-mounted engine. 

And unlike the Cayenne SUV and Panamera sedan, the Boxster has comparatively simple (and mercifully few) controls. The top is easy to operate, and can be raised and lowered at speeds as high as 30 mph. Cargo room adds up to about 10 cubic feet, with trunk space in front and back. 

Only two complaints: It’s hard to see out the rear quarters with the top up. And as we learned during the Nov. 7 nor’easter, the Boxster struggles in the snow when equipped with the standard performance tires.

Steven Macoy (smacoy3070@cs.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn. 

Price: $88,720 

Engine: 3.4-liter horizontally opposed Six, 315 300 horsepower, 266 lb.-ft. torque 

Transmission: 6-speed manual 

Drive: Rear-wheel 

0-60: 4.9 sec. (edmunds.com testing) 

Weight: 2,910 lb. 

Suspension: modified MacPherson strut front and rear 

Wheels: 19 by 9.5-in. alloy 

Tires: 265/40R Z performance 

Seating capacity: 2 

Luggage capacity: 10 cu. ft. 

Fuel capacity: 16.9 gallons 

Fuel economy: 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway 

Fuel type: premium