2013 Porsche Boxster

Base RWD 2-Dr Convertible H6 man trans

Base RWD 2-Dr Convertible H6 man trans

2013 porsche boxster Reviews and News

Ruf 3800S Front Right Side View
Brand addicts in search of extreme Porsches should travel not to Zuffenhausen but to Pfaffenhausen, home of Alois Ruf, Jr., who has been manufacturing low-volume Porsche hot rods since he took over the business from his father in 1974. With no love from Porsche, Ruf has created such memorable driving machines as the 1987 CTR "Yellowbird" plus today's awesome 777-hp CTR3 Clubsport and the RGT-8 powered by Ruf's bespoke 550-hp eight-cylinder engine. Since other Rufs cost between $314,000 and $769,000 in the U.S., the Boxster-based Ruf 3800S looks like a bargain at $132,895. A Cayman-based coupe is available for $6800 more.
The 3800S benefits from a simple heart transplant that mid-engine proponents, but not 911 purists, champion. Sitting on more than fifty brand-new 911 engines that have been replaced with his own motors, Alois Ruf made a virtue out of necessity, tweaking the 911's 3.8-liter flat-six and fitting it to the Boxster S. Sounds clever, except now the parts manager is stacking brand-new Boxster engines.
Although the 3800S is a Boxster S with a Carrera S Kraftwerk wedged between its hind legs, Ruf also installs heavily modified front and rear bumpers, all-black wheels and bigger tires, stronger brakes, and tauter springs and dampers. The 3800S cannot be sold as a Porsche, so it's available with an extracost seven-speed RDK gearbox, carbon-ceramic RCCB brakes, and active suspension management dubbed RASM. The Rs stand for Ruf, one more thorn in the side of Porsche, which eyes this operation with profound skepticism.
There's no reason for the customer to mistrust the work of the renowned Bavarian tuning shop. The conversion to 3800S is commendably solid in concept and in execution. A new free-flow exhaust, which sports four prominent tailpipes, is primarily responsible for the 20 hp and 7 lb-ft jump. The 911 Carrera S also donates larger front brake discs (13.4 inches in diameter) straddled by fire-red calipers and twenty-inch wheels shod with slightly wider tires.
The 3800S eclipses the Boxster by a substantial margin, but is the open-top Ruf also quicker than a 911 Carrera S droptop offered for similar money? The 420-hp mid-engine Porsche accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 4.1 seconds, which makes it 0.6 second quicker than a manual 911 cabrio, and its 186-mph top speed is an academic 1 mph slower. The difference in fuel consumption is equally negligible. Such a 911-vanquishing Boxster is something the powers in Zuffenhausen and Weissach would never let happen.
Does this thin on-paper lead translate to the open road? To find out, we spent a day in the hinterlands of Pfaffenhausen, where corners abound and where the law is intimately familiar with each of Ruf's five demonstrator models. Even though the 3800S sounds like a 911, it still drives like a Boxster. It is better balanced, more playful, nippier, and commendably stable on the straights but full of bumblebees at the limit. The Carrera is more black or white, more emphatic, and yet more benign when pushed hard. This steroidal Boxster wants to be treated with care. The additional 105 hp and 66 lb-ft of torque make its larger footwear break away more aggressively. Its RSM (Ruf stability management) lacks that highly desirable in-between setting.
The 3800S calls for even quicker reflexes with RSM deactivated. Communication between steering and throttle is more of a shouting match than a dialogue, and the speed window is more in line with that of any rear-engine Porsche. The means with which to induce understeer, oversteer, or a four-wheel drift can blur and overlap. Small variations in driver input can result in major changes of vehicle attitude. Exciting, yes. User-friendly, less so. Is a 3800S a better buy than a Carrera S cabriolet? Yes. It is quicker, more special, and more demanding to drive. Is it worth twice the money to upgrade from a Boxster S to a 911-engined Ruf? Probably not. The 315-hp ragtop is so sweet, smooth, and special that all it takes to narrow the performance gap is the optional PDK. From Ruf's model range, it's more worthwhile to drive one of the crazier efforts that leave the donor car well and truly grumbling in the dust.

The Specs

Price: $132,895/$139,695 (convertible/coupe)
Engine: 3.8L flat-6, 420 hp, 332 lb-ft
Drive: Rear-wheel
2013 Porsche Boxster S Rear Left Side View
As everybody knows, Porsche has been hit hard with brand expansion disease. Whereas it used to be that a Porsche was a sports car, now the company instead seeks to make "the Porsche of" SUVs, luxury sedans, (and soon) smaller SUVs, grand touring coupes, and so on. Happily, there's no confusion as to what the Boxster is. It's a true sports car and, as the latest version proves, its focus and its excellence is undiluted by Porsche's forays into other types of vehicles.
There may have been a time when the Boxster was seen as the junior Porsche, a car for those who couldn't afford the real thing -- meaning, a 911. The latest Boxster has taken several steps to bury that perception for good.
The first comes in the form of the completely new sheetmetal. Previously, the Boxster's shape was a little bit soft, and the car suffered from proportions that were just a tad off -- especially when compared to the pitch-perfect concept that presaged its arrival. In contrast, the latest one has been toned and sharpened. It has a shorter front overhang, a longer wheelbase, and a wider track. It's still unmistakably a Boxster, but it's subtly more aggressive and now carries an undertone of Porsche's mid-engine supercar, the Carrera GT. Credit particularly the more prominent side air intakes; the thinner, more vertical headlamps; and the sharp-edged rear spoiler, which is so neatly integrated into the tail lamps. Also neatly integrated is the folded canvas top, whose front section is shaped to match the contour of the body, allowing it to present a clean appearance when lowered without the bother of a snap-on boot or the complexity of a hard boot. Another neat feature of the convertible top is that it can be raised or lowered when rolling along at up to 31 mph, which is a great convenience. You'll want to keep the top down as much as possible, not just because it's an awesome way to travel but also because top-up visibility is restricted due to the small rear and side windows.
A second area where the Boxster has grown up is in the cabin. Early iterations of the Boxster suffered from a hard-plastic-lined interior that seemed built to a price. The latest Boxster has shed the cheap plastic and now uses materials commensurate with what you would expect in a Porsche. The steering wheel, the door panels, the dash, and the center console have all been upgraded. Speaking of the latter, as in other Porsches -- Panamera, Cayenne, 911 -- the Boxster interior is now bisected by a high, ramp-like center console that, like the center stack, is littered with black buttons. The high console puts the shifter in a great spot but it does lack for stowage space -- there's nowhere to readily stash a cell phone, for instance.
Then there's the engine. The early Boxster had pretty modest engine output (only 201 hp when it debuted); although the S offered more. In the intervening years, output of but the standard Boxster and the S has steadily crept up. It does so again with this redesign, as the regular version is now rated at 265 hp and 206 pound-feet of torque, and the S puts out 315 hp and 266 pound-feet. Commendably, Porsche at the same time was able to shave off a few pounds (55 pounds in the Boxster, 77 pounds in the S).
It's now to the point where the Boxster is a plenty quick (0-60 in as little as 5.2 seconds) and the S is a screamer (4.8 seconds to 60 mph with the manual transmission, 4.5 seconds with the PDK and Sport Chrono package). Top speed is a heady 173 mph. I was blown away by the way the Boxster S could instantly make surrounding freeway traffic seem like it was standing still -- at any speed in any gear. And, as has always been the case, is does so accompanied by the hypnotic, tearing-paper sound of the signature, horizontally opposed Porsche six. It is hypnotic and addictive, and it's even more present than in the 911 because the engine is right behind your ears.
And then there's the element that has always been great -- the Boxster's mid-engine handling balance. There's nothing like it outside of the supercar arena. It gives this Porsche perfect fluidity, naturally eager turn-in, and fabulous controllability. The new, electric power steering still has perfect weighting; and if it no longer has perfect tactility, that's only in comparison to the previous one. No matter, this is still a car you just want to keep driving. It's a pure sports car, and a pure Porsche -- redemption for those who thought the company might have become too distracted elsewhere to make such a thing.
2013 Porsche Boxster S
Base price (with destination): $61,850
Price as tested: $88,720
Standard Equipment:
3.4-liter six-cylinder boxer engine
6-speed manual transmission
4-wheel vented disc brakes w/ 4-piston aluminum monoblock, red-painted calipers
8 x 19 in front, 9.5 x 19 in rear wheels
Power convertible top w/heated glass rear window
Power windows
Manual seats with power recliners
Rain-sensing wipers
Power side mirrors
7-in touch screen audio system w/CD player and 4 speakers
Bi-xenon headlamps
Automatically extending rear spoiler
Twin-tip, center-exiting exhaust
Options on this vehicle:
Premium package w/adaptive sport seats $5265
Infotainment Package w/Bose $3860
Carrera red natural leather interior $3535
20-inch Carrera Classic wheels $2730
GT silver metallic paint $2580
Sport Chrono package $1850
PASM $1790
Porsche torque vectoring $1320
Front and rear park assist $860
Vented seats $730
6-disc CD/DVD changer $670
Multi-function steering wheel $615
Light design package $340
Power steering plus $270
Heated steering wheel $270
Wheel caps w/Porsche crest $185
Key options not on this vehicle:
Porsche ceramic composite brakes $7400
7-speed PDK transmission $3200
Sports exhaust system $2825
Special metallic paint $2580
Mahogany interior package $1790
Carbon interior package $1790
Air vent slats in leather $1190
Contrast stitching on steering wheel rim $1025
Fuel economy:
20 / 28 / 23 mpg
3.4L flat-six
Horsepower: 315 hp @ 6700 rpm
Torque: 266 lb-ft @ 4500-5800 rpm
6-speed manual
Curb weight: 2910 lb
20 x 8 inch front, 20 x 9.5 inch rear aluminum alloy
235/35ZR20 front, 265/35ZR19 rear tires
Audi TT-S
BMW Z4 sDrive 335is
Chevrolet Corvette convertible
Mercedes-Benz SLK63 AMG
2013 Audi RS5 2012 BMW M3 Coupe 2013 Mercedes Benz C63 AMG Coupe And 2013 Porsche Boxster S Parked
Three 400-plus-hp coupes jostle to occupy the same space and win the same buyers. They exist in an automotive sweet spot, delivering luxury, performance, style, and excitement at an attainable price. Spend more money, and you'll face diminishing returns. Spend less, and you'll have less of a car.
Although the similarities are unmistakable, each is concocted from a unique formula with its own set of attributes. The Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG taps into man's innate lust for the thrust and roar of a big-displacement V-8. New to the States for 2013, the Audi RS5 elevates expectations of sophistication and speed. And the legendary, long-standing king, the BMW M3, has established itself as a rarefied driver's car.
To this mix of thoroughbred coupes, we also added a ringer, the Porsche Boxster S. With a folding roof, a mid-mounted engine, and space for just two people, the Boxster is nothing like the other cars, yet it lands in the same space when it comes to price and performance.
Just what do you get for your money? These cars all manage 60 mph in the mid-four-second range and blistering track times for an average base price of $64,719. So Porsche, BMW, Audi, or Mercedes-Benz? That's the $64,000 question.

Fourth Place
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

There's a reason AMG's two most important ambassadors cling to this 6.2-liter V-8. Whereas every other eight-cylinder AMG Benz adopts a twin-turbo 5.5-liter, the SLS AMG and the C63 AMG exist in a niche where character means more than numbers. The C63 isn't simply 451 hp of car. It's manic.
This Mercedes can be tame, even benign, if you're asleep at the wheel, but feed in enough right pedal and you might imagine a nitromethane tap opening somewhere under the hood. At full throttle, the thick rim in your hands becomes less like a steering wheel and more like an Alcantara grab handle. And that turn ahead? This car has a knack for sideways drifts.
Yes, the C63 can be hazardous to your health. Not only does it pressure you into gross acts of power-on oversteer, it leads to addiction. To the thunderous exhaust note. To 443 lb-ft of torque. To matting the gas pedal, over and over and over again.
You (and we) want the good stuff, so order the $6050 development package that swaps in lighter, stronger engine internals; adds 30 hp; and juices the top speed to 174 mph. Launch control (apply brakes, set stability control to sport, dial transmission to RS, pull right paddle, stomp gas, release brake, go fast) will propel this hulk to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, but get the sequence wrong and you'll be treated to a 4500-rpm clutch dump that immolates the rear rubber in a smoky scene that would make Michael Bay envious.
Hell of an engine, dog of a transmission. The C63 uses the same seven-speed automatic found in every other Mercedes with fewer than twelve cylinders, except that AMG unbolts the torque converter -- that's the source of the "slush" in slushbox -- and installs a direct-acting clutch pack in its place. Trading fluid for friction leads to crisper, quicker launches and more precise downshifts. Still, the Mercedes' gearchanges feel a skosh slower than those of the dual-clutch automatic gearboxes used by every other competitor here. We wish that was our biggest complaint.
Instead, we're dealing with straight-up insubordination. Even with the transmission controller twisted to manual, the paddle shifters retain the authority to overrule -- or at least ignore -- the driver's commands. Far more egregious on a not-especially-hot August morning at Michigan's Grattan Raceway, we couldn't log more than three laps at a time before the C63 called it quits. The computers booted us out of manual mode and into a limp mode that yielded barely enough power to accelerate the 3804-pound Mercedes. After less than five minutes of flat-out driving, the $83,845, 481-hp AMG had the motive energy of a Honda Fit towing a school bus.
That's too bad, because the C63 didn't need to come in last in this test. In those first couple of laps, with full power, we were able to record a time just 0.01 second behind the BMW. There's no hiding the weight of that big engine over the front wheels and a tendency to push in corners, yet there's a lot to like about the AMG on the racetrack. There's a natural heft and precision to the steering, utter control in the suspension, and gobs of torque no matter where the tach needle is pointing.
The C63 is even more fun on the road, where the roguish exhaust, on-demand thrust, and capable chassis make it an attraction whether it's sitting at a stoplight, painting black stripes in a straight line, or tearing through a corner. There's no shortage of street cred here. Once-stuffy Mercedes looks more like an attention-seeking adolescent with this particular C63, accessorized with a vivid red interior and an exposed carbon-fiber lip spoiler. Those details strike us as a bit tawdry and at odds with the C-class's otherwise conservative styling, but what do we know? Of the three coupes, the Mercedes drew the most looks and comments wherever we went.
It's easy to get caught up in what AMG has done with this car, but we also love that it is still very much a Mercedes. The C63 AMG is civil enough for the workaday world of urban and suburban commuting but can transform itself instantly when an open stretch of road presents itself. Just don't expect too much if that road leads to a track.

Third Place
Audi RS5

Talk about confidence. The RS5 is the new guy here, and yet Audi has the moxie to strut in with the highest base price by a $4860 margin. We're sold, though, because the RS5 justifies the premium before you even start the engine. The cabin strikes the best balance of upscale, stylish, and tasteful. The optional Google Maps navigation is now joined by Google Street View, which shows a ground-level image of your destination. The underhood presentation is immaculate, with red valve covers, a small composite manifold cover, and handsome badging. Both the seats and the steering wheel are perfectly shaped and placed. And you can't put a price on beauty. The broad shoulders, meaty wheels, and fierce headlights look aggressive without being tacky. We just wish the snub-nosed, slack-jawed face were more elegant.
The RS5 also earns accolades for its 4.2-liter V-8. Arguably the best powerplant in this test, it straddles the line between the burly Merc engine and the peaky BMW mill. The 450-hp unit builds fury all the way to the 8500-rpm fuel cutoff, yet the long 3.7-inch stroke gives it a 22 lb-ft of torque advantage over the M3. The best of both worlds, the RS5 combines instantaneous responsiveness with high-end drama. Ask it to perform, and the RS5 delivers with silky power and an equally honeyed exhaust note.
Yet, other than when you rev the engine to the top of the tach, drama is hard to come by. The all-wheel-drive system, unique in this group of rear-drivers, takes some of the edge and excitement out of accelerating and cornering. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is so proficient that it neither detracts from nor defines the driving experience. Rather, it moves between gears so smoothly, so quickly, and so reliably that its actions often go unnoticed. Our test car's standard steering setup was far more natural than the optional variable-ratio steering we've previously driven, but it still pales in comparison to the directness of the Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes systems. There's a wide range of effort between Drive Select's comfort, auto, and dynamic modes, yet none feels quite right.
The sport rear differential, on the other hand, can do no wrong. By sending more torque to the outer rear wheel in a turn, it keeps the car from plowing to the outside of corners. More precisely, it allows the driver to point the car into a corner at a sane speed, get on the gas early, and exit at a velocity approaching reckless driving. The car rotates so precisely under throttle that there's a whiff of the same calculating, computerized machinations that are the essence of a Nissan GT-R. The differential is not quite as effective on the track, however, where the RS5's nose-heavy weight distribution is too much for the trick diff to overcome and understeer becomes apparent.
Contributor Marc Noordeloos called the RS5 "the least impressive car on the track," aggravated by the distant steering, the inherent understeer, and the overwhelmed brakes. Yet the numbers say something very different. The RS5 walked away with the quickest lap time by more than 0.6 second, putting more than 1.5 seconds on both the Mercedes and the BMW. The Audi is unbelievably quick -- literally. "There is no way the RS5 was that fast," Noordeloos gaped. But the numbers don't lie. Every single lap we recorded in the RS5 was quicker than anything the other cars could muster.
This leaves us with a moral dilemma of recognizing achievement or rewarding personality. The Audi and the BMW could have easily swapped places in the final standings. Yet we can't in good conscience put the RS5 ahead of a car that we find more desirable. Before we had a clear picture of the lap-time pecking order, it was the M3 that we were fawning over in the pits. Attractive, comfortable, and wickedly fast, the RS5 is lovable for everything it does on the road, but we don't lust after it because of what it does on the track.

Second place

The M3 for so long was pretty much the only game in town. Audi and Mercedes armed four-doors to poach M's customers, but they never succeeded in achieving greatness. You either bought the BMW or you bought the wrong car. That's hardly the case today, with both of the M3's direct competitors -- the C63 AMG and the RS5 -- offering a credible and compelling alternative. Yet the BMW M3 still sets the standard for the class, even as the oldest member of the group.
Its age does show, however. The high-strung 4.0-liter V-8 was magnificent five years ago. Today, it's merely great, overshadowed by the stronger and more extroverted personalities of the Mercedes and Audi engines. The gearbox shows shades of SMG, the automated manual of the E46-chassis M3 that was phenomenal on the track and fussy in the city. Compared with its competitors, the M3's dual-clutch automatic exhibits lazier shifts in auto mode. On one occasion, we pulled away from a red light with the lurch-and-buck launch of an absolute novice driving a three-pedal transmission. Early on, we seriously wondered how far back the BMW might finish in this test.
And then, after a long day of schlepping around for photos, we finally escaped the tourist-packed summer towns and our plodding photo car for a chance to attack the wide sweepers of northwestern Michigan's M-22. Deputy editor Joe DeMatio was the first to fall for the M3. "Forget any of the negative things I might have said earlier about this car," his voice crackled over the two-way radio.
It may not be the placid daily driver that the Audi and the Mercedes are, but the M3 sets itself apart from those two cars with every hard and fast mile you drive. The eight individual throttles follow every twitch of your right foot. Behind the fiddly gear selector, there's a rocker switch with an odd icon that might be mistaken for a volume control. It actually alters the intensity and the speed of the shifts. In manual mode, the gearbox interprets every up- and downshift before you've finished pulling the paddle, and the M3 can deliver the hardest and quickest shifts of any car here. We wouldn't have it any other way, except, of course, with a true manual transmission -- and the M3 is the only car of the three coupes to offer one.
After driving the Audi and the Mercedes, the BMW reveals a lightness and agility that you might otherwise take for granted. Its svelte chassis is beautifully complemented by surprisingly light steering that guides the car with pinpoint accuracy, while the suspension is planted but supple. The M3 is the embodiment of everything that BMW stands for: a potent engine, a balanced chassis, clairvoyant steering, and -- the key differentiator -- how they're all seamlessly integrated together.
At the absolute limit, the M3 does reveal some dicey manners. Add throttle in a corner, and the speed-sensing rear differential will suddenly shift grunt to the outside wheel, inducing snap oversteer. "The M3 was the only car that was difficult to drive quickly. I had to work the hardest for my lap time in this car," Noordeloos reported. He also set the brakes on fire. Fortunately, there's a distinct line between toying with the M3 and provoking its aggression, and you can have a blast on either side of that line.
Although the base prices of these cars average about $64,000, it's only the M3 that avoids sticker shock when the options are added. With an as-tested price of $69,595, the M3 is a stripper of sorts, with a no-frills interior devoid of navigation and power seats. We're OK with that, though. The manual sport seats are infinitely adjustable and fit any driver just so, and the sterile interior amplifies the feeling that you're in a purposeful, specialized machine.
That's exactly what makes the M3 our pick over the Mercedes-Benz and the Audi. It's not just a faster 3-series, it is a totally different car. A better car. While AMG and Quattro add speed and sound, M adds emotion. We're feeling it.

First place
Porsche Boxster S

The ringer wins. It is perhaps not surprising that a lightweight, mid-engine roadster won out against three heavier coupes, but it wasn't a given, either. The Boxster's competition was universally more powerful, quicker in a straight line, more practical on the road, and cheaper off the dealership lot. So how'd it win? By engaging and thrilling the driver in everything it does.
For one, the Boxster is striking to look at. Porsche's design studio has put some muscle and presence into the Boxster's traditionally delicate design. We also love the rich lime-gold paint but not the fact that it's one of several four-figure additions that lead to the incomprehensible cost of $28,685 for optional equipment. Try to filter out the extras and strip the Boxster down to its basics, because it's this Porsche's very core that is so very good.
The Boxster S is quick and its 315-hp engine sings a special flat-six song on the climb up the tach, but it's easy to become power hungry when every other car has about 100 hp on you. We're not so delusional to think that Porsche will up the output as long as it's selling the 911, so we propose a compromise: shorter gearing. In several turns where the other cars were content with third gear, the Boxster required second. Numerically higher gearing would quicken acceleration, increase torque at the rear wheels, and create more opportunities for using the ideally placed paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.
The PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission clicks through its seven gears with the speed of a firing pin, and the punch of every shift hits harder as you tap into Sport and Sport Plus modes. This gearbox falls just short of perfection. With Sport Plus activated and the gear selector pushed into manual mode, the computer still retains some control. The transmission will downshift to the lowest possible gear or upshift at redline if you've pushed the gas pedal through its kickdown switch, and on the track, a right foot in pursuit of full-throttle acceleration can't be bothered with a wimpy detent at the end of the pedal travel.
These are petty gripes; the Porsche is driving bliss on the road and the track. It is poised and planted, with puttylike grip and unflappable handling. The perfect steering -- not too heavy and not too light, great on-center action, and excellent feel -- makes the M3's seem ho-hum. And it's more than 400 pounds lighter than the other cars. Added together, these qualities instill a confidence that leads to superlegal cornering speeds on the road.
Our lap jockey deemed it "the only car here that could run at the track all day without breaking a sweat." Credit that to the most robust brakes in this bunch. Whereas every other car exhibited some fade during timed laps, the Porsche's brake pedal remained firm as it laid down faster times than the M3 and the C63 AMG. Part of the Boxster's allure is that it is so easy to drive so quickly. It takes a concerted effort or an unforgivable mistake to bring the rear end around. Instead, the Boxster gives off only the faintest whiff of understeer in what is quite possibly the industry's most neutral-handling car. With a more experienced driver piloting the faster Audi, one of our younger staffers shadowed the RS5's every move (save his brief disappearance on the long straight) for a full lap before the Audi driver relented and waved him by. It isn't the fastest car here, but there's a good chance the Boxster is the car that you would be fastest in.
If you've been paying attention, you've noticed that we can't quite separate the coupes from their shortcomings. The M3 is an edgy driver's delight that can be high maintenance on the street. The C63 and the RS5 are capable on the track but truly excellent on the road. Choosing the Boxster S means not having to choose sides. It is just as livable on well-worn roads as it is fierce on a track. Skip the pricey options, and it can be the answer to your $64,000 question, too.
Lap Times
Grattan Raceway
| 2.2 miles
Audi RS5 1:28.48
Porsche Boxster S 1:29.10
BMW M3 1:30.05
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG 1:30.06

2013 Audi RS5

BASE PRICE: $69,795
32-valve DOHC V-8
DISPLACEMENT: 4.2 liters (254 cu in)
POWER: 450 hp @ 8250 rpm
TORQUE: 317 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic
DRIVE: 4-wheel
Electrically assisted
FRONT SUSPENSION: Multilink, coil springs
REAR SUSPENSION: Multilink, coil springs
BRAKES: Vented discs, ABS
TIRES: Pirelli PZero
TIRE SIZE: 275/30YR-20
L x W x H:
183.0 x 73.2 x 53.8 in
WHEELBASE: 108.3 in
TRACK F/R: 62.4/62.3 in
WEIGHT: 4037 lb
WEIGHT DIST. F/R: 57.8/42.2%
EPA MILEAGE: 16/23 mpg
0-60 MPH:
4.6 sec
0-100 MPH: 10.8 sec
1/4-MILE: 13.0 sec @ 110 mph
30-70 MPH PASSING: 4.5 sec
SPEED IN GEARS: 1) 42; 2) 68; 3) 98; 4) 130; 5) 167; 6) 174; 7) --- mph
CORNERING L/R: 0.97/0.95 g
70-0 MPH BRAKING: 152 ft

2012 BMW M3 coupe

BASE PRICE: $62,295
32-valve DOHC V-8
DISPLACEMENT: 4.0 liters (244 cu in)
POWER: 414 hp @ 8300 rpm
TORQUE: 295 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic
DRIVE: Rear-wheel
Electrohydraulically assisted
FRONT SUSPENSION: Strut-type, coil springs
REAR SUSPENSION: Multilink, coil springs
BRAKES: Vented discs, ABS
TIRES: Michelin Pilot Sport
TIRE SIZE F, R: 245/35YR-19, 265/35YR-19
L x W x H:
181.8 x 71.0 x 55.8 in
WHEELBASE: 108.7 in
TRACK F/R: 60.6/60.6 in
WEIGHT: 3576 lb
WEIGHT DIST. F/R: 51.2/48.8%
EPA MILEAGE: 14/20 mpg
0-60 MPH:
4.6 sec
0-100 MPH: 10.6 sec
1/4-MILE: 13.0 sec @ 111 mph
30-70 MPH PASSING: 4.0 sec
SPEED IN GEARS: 1) 44; 2) 71; 3) 97; 4) 124; 5) 150; 6) 155; 7) --- mph
CORNERING L/R: 1.00/0.99 g
70-0 MPH BRAKING: 141 ft

2013 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG coupe

BASE PRICE: $64,935
32-valve DOHC V-8
DISPLACEMENT: 6.2 liters (379 cu in)
POWER: 481 hp @ 6500 rpm
TORQUE: 443 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic
DRIVE: Rear-wheel
Hydraulically assisted
FRONT SUSPENSION: Strut-type, coil springs
REAR SUSPENSION: Multilink, coil springs
BRAKES: Vented discs, ABS
TIRES: Continental ContiSportContact
TIRE SIZE F, R: 235/40YR-18, 255/35YR-18
L x W x H:
185.3 x 69.7 x 54.6 in
WHEELBASE: 108.9 in
TRACK F/R: 62.4/61.5 in
WEIGHT: 3804 lb
WEIGHT DIST. F/R: 53.8/46.2%
EPA MILEAGE: 13/19 mpg
0-60 MPH:
4.4 sec
0-100 MPH: 10.0 sec
1/4-MILE: 12.3 sec @ 117 mph
30-70 MPH PASSING: 4.4 sec
SPEED IN GEARS: 1) 41; 2) 63; 3) 94; 4) 131; 5) 174; 6) ---; 7) --- mph
CORNERING L/R: 0.94/0.94 g
70-0 MPH BRAKING: 165 ft

2013 Porsche Boxster S

BASE PRICE: $61,850
24-valve DOHC flat-6
DISPLACEMENT: 3.4 liters (210 cu in)
POWER: 315 hp @ 6700 rpm
TORQUE: 266 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic
DRIVE: Rear-wheel
Electrically assisted
FRONT SUSPENSION: Strut-type, coil springs
REAR SUSPENSION: Strut-type, coil springs
BRAKES: Vented discs, ABS
TIRES: Pirelli PZero
TIRE SIZE F, R: 235/35YR-20, 265/35YR-20
L x W x H:
172.2 x 70.9 x 50.0 in
WHEELBASE: 97.4 in
TRACK F/R: 60.1/60.6 in
WEIGHT: 3133 lb
WEIGHT DIST. F/R: 44.6/55.4%
EPA MILEAGE: 21/30 mpg
0-60 MPH:
4.8 sec
0-100 MPH: 11.9 sec
1/4-MILE: 13.3 sec @ 106 mph
30-70 MPH PASSING: 4.5 sec
SPEED IN GEARS: 1) 42; 2) 71; 3) 99; 4) 125; 5) 151; 6) 172; 7) --- mph
CORNERING L/R: 1.02/1.01 g
70-0 MPH BRAKING: 137 ft
Roadster Roundup Front View
Forty-five degrees with a cold wind blowing and showers in the forecast -- bad timing for the new Porsche Boxster S to meet its two closest rivals? Far from it. For a start, there's no weather you can't beat by pulling out an appropriate set of clothes. Second, putting the roof down is not mandatory -- we would not have seen an indicated 287 kph (178 mph) in the Porsche and 291 kph (181 mph) in the SLK with the wind in our hair and tears in our eyes. And a bit of precipitation is actually not so bad; wet tarmac lowers the limit of adhesion and lifts the spirits of those who like a bit of attitude when tackling a set of twisties. So we ignored the puffy gray clouds that seemed to almost touch the sun visors, cranked up the seat heaters, and pretended that a couple of blue patches in the sky were a sign that summer was just around the corner.
Of our topless trio, two are new. The SLK55 AMG is the top-of-the-line version of the third-generation baby SL, introduced in early 2011. Why did we pick the much more expensive, 415-hp AMG version over the 302-hp SLK350? Because the V-6-powered SLK can't hold a candle to the 315-hp Boxster S, because price is not a prime buying motivation in this segment, and, quite frankly, because the idea of 398 lb-ft of torque making those fat rear tires spin appeals to our childish nature. For similar reasons, the Z4 featured in this threesome is not the 300-hp 35i but the more powerful 35is variant that musters 335 hp and is mated to a standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
A roadster is an undeniably emotional purchase, and falling in love with a car is a complex affair. Although the specs and stats are only of fringe importance, looks are absolutely pivotal. That complicates the decision-making process in this case, because all three cars make arresting visual statements. The BMW is a perfectly proportioned centerfold on wheels. Wide, low, and neatly sculptured, it's small enough to be chuckable and chic enough to score on the street-cred chart. The downside concerns the retractable hard top. It may be practical, but the cutlines it necessitates aren't exactly pretty, and its bulk compromises the passenger compartment as well as the luggage bay. The SLK, which also features a retractable hard top, has similar drawbacks. Unlike lesser SLKs, the butch AMG version is highlighted by available black ten-spoke wheels and four massive tailpipes, its body littered with drag-cutting and attention-grabbing details. In contrast, the new Boxster S looks clean, subtle, and totally unaggressive, with the exception of the bright yellow paint job featured here. The only obvious concession to fashion is the design of the motorized rear spoiler and the lateral extensions that peter out in the taillights. The Porsche has the fastest-lowering roof (nine seconds!), the roomiest cabin (by quite some margin), and two luggage bays that are undiminished by the stowed top. Such practicality can be a big bonus when it comes to making love last.
Launched in 2009, the Z4 is the oldest model here. At 3549 pounds, the BMW feels pudgy, and indeed it weighs as much as the V-8-engined Benz; both are much heavier than the Boxster S, which tips the scales at only 2976 pounds with the PDK gearbox. As soon as the serious driving begins, however, the BMW looms in the mirror of whoever is leading the pack. The twin-turbocharged straight six is a compelling engine. Cranking up the boost pressure squeezes out an extra 35 hp over the mainstream version, but even more significant is the bulge in the torque curve that now peaks at 1500 rpm, where we find 332 lb-ft (369 lb-ft during short spurts of "overboost"). Although the redline promises a lofty 7000 rpm, the Z4 is more about low-rpm grunt. In combination with the seven-speed DCT, the six-cylinder performs like a mix of turbine and afterburner. Part-throttle upshifts are particularly impressive and become whiplash-punchy the harder you depress the accelerator.
It even sounds pretty good, that BMW engine. The underlying deep growl turns into a muffled roar as the tachometer needle swings across the dial, but it's also hard not to be smitten by the overrun burble, the angry blat-blat that accompanies every downshift, and the throaty hiss that plays an impatient background bass at idle speed. The real virtuoso among these three is, of course, the SLK55 AMG, which fields two extra lungs and a mighty breathing volume of 5461 cubic centimeters. Although it is now equipped with high-tech items like cylinder deactivation, auto start/stop, and alternator energy recuperation, the V-8 still plays all our favorite heavy-metal tunes. Below 2000 rpm, the exhaust makes sure the bypass valves are closed to keep on good terms with the neighbors, but as soon as you bury the accelerator, windowpanes are guaranteed to rattle in their frames. Nice! But nicer than Porsche's boxer engine? Certainly different. The latest 315-hp flat six has the same tone of voice as all flat sixes conceived in Stuttgart since 1963, no matter whether they are cooled by air or water. It's a great soundtrack, kind of rock meets classical, very powerful and yet melodious. Although Porsche keeps modifying the boxer and making it more efficient, evolution has mercifully had no effect on the engine's special character and charisma.
The Boxster S is an all-new car, but its 3.4-liter flat six is only a variation of the previous engine. Maximum power is up a modest 5 hp to 315 hp at 6700 rpm; max torque remains an unchanged 266 lb-ft available at a slightly higher 4500-to-5800 rpm. Bolstered by new technologies such as auto start/stop and an engine-decoupling coasting mode, the new Boxster S earns an EPA fuel economy rating of 21/30 mpg city/highway (20/28 mpg with the stick shift). Having said that, we recorded a not-so-impressive 18 mpg. Still, that's better than the 16 mpg we saw with the Z4 (EPA rated at 17/24 mpg) and the SLK (EPA rated at 19/28 mpg).
The Porsche is the only car here that still offers a choice between manual and automatic transmissions. (The Z4 and the SLK also offer manuals but only in lesser versions.) The stick shift may be a little more involving, but you need the PDK automatic plus the wizardries of the Sport Chrono package (such as launch control and faster shift timing) to accelerate in 4.5 instead of 4.8 seconds from 0 to 60 mph. When you tick the box marked PDK, be sure to also specify the SportDesign steering wheel, which incorporates proper shift paddles rather than fiddly thumb switches.
Like the Boxster, the Z4 uses a six-cylinder engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Limited to 155 mph, the Z4 35is nearly matches the Boxster S in acceleration to 60 mph, but its base price is $3245 more. Only $6525 separates the Boxster S from the SLK55 AMG, which is a fair deal considering the Merc's power and torque bonus. But once again, performance is not the decider. The AMG car is a mere two-tenths of a second quicker to 60 mph than the BMW and equal to the Sport Chrono-equipped Boxster (according to the carmakers' estimates), and it needs the optional AMG Handling Package to lift the maximum U.S.-market speed from 155 to 174 mph, thereby eclipsing the Boxster by a token 2 mph. Throughout the entire mph range, the three contenders shadow each other like a pack of NASCAR racers. From 0 to 125 mph, the Boxster S edges the SLK55, which in turn opens a gap on the Z4. On the autobahn, there is again very little separating these three racy roadsters. The driver with the steeliest nerves will emerge as the winner -- he who lifts early loses.
Pushing a car to the limit is all about confidence, and confidence has a lot to do with stability -- or rather with the controllability of instability. On a racetrack, with room to spare, the SLK55 AMG is a hilarious plaything that permits silly drift angles and is willing to hold them. On public roads, however, it's a different story altogether. Here, the Mercedes seems to run an in-car gyro that makes its vertical axis spin whenever steering angle and torque flow reach a critical level -- which happens early, often, and with vigor, especially on undulating and slippery turf. Through second-gear kinks this attitude can be fun for a while, but in taxing fourth-gear sweepers, sudden tail-out episodes are not exactly friendship-forging behavior. This is a very loose car, no doubt handicapped by a short wheelbase and nose-heavy weight distribution. The fat tires help but only to an extent. In the rain, the Continental Conti-SportContacts reach their limit of adhesion with an angst-inflicting abruptness, tramline like snakes racing each other, and are partly responsible for the stiff ride, which adds a dash of indifference to the handling equation. In the dry, their gumlike grip helps reestablish a comfort zone, but the commendably quick steering still feels overly light as well as somewhat artificial, and despite the very firm suspension, the chassis displays a latent wobbliness that makes relaxing difficult.
In the BMW, we see less space than in the SLK, and the driver sits far back if not quite as low as in the Porsche. The steering-wheel shifters are about as intuitive as an evil sudoku, and at low speeds the nineteen-inch Bridgestones are noisy and feel brittle. Unlike the SLK, which has a fixed suspension, the Z4 35is is fitted with adaptive dampers as standard equipment. (The Boxster S can be ordered with a similar system, known as PASM.) Although the BMW's 335-hp, 3.0-liter six briefly unleashes as much as 369 lb-ft, the BMW is more two-seat convertible than hard-core roadster. The engineers did what they could to make the Z4 look, sound, and drive like a sports car, but heavy steering, heavy brakes, and relatively ponderous handling create the impression of an open-air GT.
Our loaded Boxster S wasn't exactly what you'd call a bargain, but the mid-engine roadster would still cost some $36K less than a comparably equipped (and also brand-new) 911 cabriolet. True, the 911 is the more iconic sports car, but the difference in performance between the 315-hp Boxster and the 350-hp Carrera is marginal, not to mention the fact that the cheaper car actually offers a few advantages -- and we are not talking only luggage capacity here. For a start, the engines make the same beautiful noise and combine telepathic throttle response with linear power delivery. Both can be mated to one of the best automatic gearboxes extant -- one that gets even better with a push of the sport button. The 911 feels like no other car on the planet, but it doesn't turn in quite as rapidly as the Boxster, is trickier when you choose to deactivate all the electronic safety aids, and is not quite as firmly planted in a straight line. In other words, the Boxster S is the more grown up, more complete, more homogenous car.
At high speeds, the Porsche's strong aerodynamic stability backs up the remarkably unperturbed suspension and the rock solid, almost lean-free body. Through second- and third-gear corners, the Boxster invites you to modulate the handling in a way the Z4 and the SLK simply cannot match. Throttle and steering plot the course, engine and transmission set the pace, the Pirellis and the strut-type suspension keep it grounded. There is a fluidity and a transparency to this car that makes even a 911 feel a little edgy in comparison. Where the Mercedes is two-dimensional in its oversteer-or-not persona, the Porsche is multifaceted in the way it is always ready to explore the full handling spectrum, from mild understeer to lurid oversteer. Like the SLK, the Boxster responds really well when stability control is set in the mid-position, which encourages waltzing steps without dancing you dizzy. And while we do not prefer the new electric power steering over the previous hydraulic setup, it was easy to get used to its fresh talents, such as the more pronounced self-centering action and the mild correcting tug under braking on split-friction surfaces. However, the optional, speed-sensitive Power Steering Plus (which dramatically boosts assist at parking-lot speeds) is more of an acquired taste.
The rev-happy flat six trumpets, howls, and barks the Boxster S to victory in this company. There is very little to fault with the car. The ergonomics are a bit of a mess and the choice of available driver-assistance systems is limited at this point. But there is no doubt that the Porsche has the best (non-carbon-ceramic) brakes, the most attentive steering, the fastest-shifting gearbox, the most riveting grip, and the least compromised ride, even when fitted with twenty-inch footwear. It is a seamless performer, athletic yet totally compliant, sharp-edged yet nicely balanced, absolutely focused yet very relaxed. The Z4 is a strong all-arounder with a lovely engine but is let down by that space-wasting roof and the neither-here-nor-there positioning in the marketplace. The brawny SLK55 AMG is all engine and not enough chassis. It looks and drives like a muscle car, falling short in terms of composure, refinement, and, dare we say it, style. So the Boxster wins. After one exciting week and more than 600 fast miles, it not only beat its two sparring partners, it also comes unashamedly close to the 911.

Porsche Boxster S

BASE PRICE $61,850
24-valve DOHC flat-6
DISPLACEMENT 3.4 liters (210 cu in)
POWER 315 hp @ 6700 rpm
TORQUE 266 lb-ft @ 4500-5800 rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed automatic
DRIVE Rear-wheel
Electrically assisted
SUSPENSION, FRONT Strut-type, coil springs
SUSPENSION, REAR Multilink, coil springs
BRAKES Vented discs, ABS
TIRES Pirelli PZero
TIRE SIZE F, R 235/35YR-20, 265/35YR-20
L x W x H
172.2 x 77.9 x 50.0 in
TRACK F/R 60.1/60.6 in
WEIGHT 2976 lb
WEIGHT DIST. F/R 46.0/54.0%
CARGO CAPACITY 5.3/4.6 cu ft (front trunk/rear)
EPA MILEAGE 21/30 mpg
0-60 MPH 4.5 sec
TOP SPEED 172 mph

BMW Z4 sDrive35is

BASE PRICE $65,095
24-valve DOHC twin-turbo I-6
DISPLACEMENT 3.0 liters (182 cu in)
POWER 335 hp @ 5900 rpm
TORQUE 332 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm (369 lb-ft with overboost)
TRANSMISSION 7-speed automatic
DRIVE Rear-wheel
Electrically assisted
SUSPENSION, FRONT Control arms, coil springs
SUSPENSION, REAR Multilink, coil springs
BRAKES Vented discs, ABS
TIRES Bridgestone Potenza RE050A
TIRE SIZE F, R 225/35YR-19, 255/30YR-19
L x W x H
167.0 x 70.5* x 50.6 in
TRACK F/R 59.5/60.5 in
WEIGHT 3549 lb
WEIGHT DIST. F/R 49.3/50.7%
CARGO CAPACITY 10.9/6.4 cu ft (top up/down)
EPA MILEAGE 17/24 mpg
0-60 MPH 4.7 sec
TOP SPEED 155 mph
*width without sideview mirrors

Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG

BASE PRICE $68,375
32-valve DOHC V-8
DISPLACEMENT 5.5 liters (333 cu in)
POWER 415 hp @ 6800 rpm
TORQUE 398 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed automatic
DRIVE Rear-wheel
Hydraulically assisted
SUSPENSION, FRONT Strut-type, coil springs
SUSPENSION, REAR Multilink, coil springs
BRAKES F/R Vented discs/discs, ABS
TIRES Continental ContiSportContact
TIRE SIZE F, R 235/40YR-18, 255/35YR-18
L x W x H
163.2 x 79.0 x 51.2 in
TRACK F/R 61.0/61.7 in
WEIGHT 3549 lb
CARGO CAPACITY 10.1/6.4 cu ft (top up/down)
EPA MILEAGE 19/28 mpg
0-60 MPH 4.5 sec
TOP SPEED 155 mph
All measurements per manufacturers
2013 Porsche Boxter Rear Right Side View
The second you sit down low into the firm sport seat, legs stick-ing out ahead of you, thumbs slotting into the perfectly proportioned steering-wheel rim where it tapers at quarter-to-three, everything feels familiar. Then you turn the ignition key located to the left of the wheel -- echoing the days when Le Mans racers twisted the key with their left hand and selected a gear with the right to save time -- and wuuum! Rev the mid-mounted flat six, and again it's deja vu as a slightly loose and raspy metallic roar trembles through the seatback and reverberates in your eardrums. No doubt about it, this is the Porsche Boxster we remember.
It's not, though. Despite the familiarity, this third-generation Boxster is basically all-new: a new engine, new platform, new dimensions, new technology, and, perhaps the most controversial, new electric power steering. More on that later. It's the Boxster's biggest-ever evolutionary leap. Just as with the 911, an all-new body structure -- a mix of aluminum and steel -- replaces its all-steel predecessor, helping trim about seventy pounds from the curb weight despite an injection of growth hormones. Width is essentially unchanged and there's an extra 2.4 inches between the axles, but the car is only 1.3 inches longer overall due to shorter overhangs.
Inside, there is a little extra room thanks to the longer wheelbase and also because the pedals have been moved slightly farther back, a neat trick that provides additional legroom. The seating position is now fractionally lower, and the rising center console places the gear lever closer to the driver's right hand. It's a very sporty, poised driving position. Our car's fully leather-lined interior looks great, with crisp instruments and easy ergonomics, but it's a pity that some of the highly visible plastics look decidedly downmarket.
In spite of the continuing commonality between the 911 and the Boxster under the skin, the styling of the two cars is now much more strongly differentiated. It all starts with the doors. Previous Boxsters got 911 hand-me-downs to cut costs, and as a result the styling had to mesh with the 911 doors. Not anymore. Substantial extra investment from Stuttgart means the new Boxster gets bespoke doors, which are much flatter than the 911's, and the character lines that are etched into them flow into and bear influence on the rest of the body. Up close, you'll see crisp edges ironed into the top of the front fenders that lead toward the new, more vertically stacked headlights. The same kind of crisp lines flow along the top of the more muscled rear fenders. The new design looks taut and sinuous, pointy and dynamic, low and aggressive. It's a fantastic-looking car.
We collect our Boxster S in Rome and head toward Bridge-stone's test track, an hour or so away near Aprilia. The roads, especially the autoroute on-ramps, are a mess, with fractured, crumbling asphalt that looks ready to swallow Fiat 500s whole. As soon as we set off, we're grateful for the stretched wheelbase and retuned PASM adjustable dampers, all of which helps to take a little of the edge off the ride compared with the previous Boxster, a machine that was still admirably compliant for such a sporting car. The ride is perhaps even more impressive in light of our car's optional twenty-inch wheels, the largest ever fitted to a Boxster.
The all-new fabric roof helps the refinement, too, with an extra layer that quiets the interior. The new top goes a long way toward tackling the sometimes-excessive noise that swilled around the cabin in the previous Boxster, and it's quicker to retract as well: the old car's already-rapid twelve seconds has been slashed to just nine. In real terms it's even faster, because its predecessor required you to unclip a latch on the header rail manually before the electrics could do their thing. This iteration is fully automatic at the press of a button. With the roof open, both driver and passenger are well cocooned from the elements, wind tickling the scalp at typical cruising speeds and swirling into a bluster only at much higher velocities.
But here's what's really great about this roof: folding-hard-top rivals such as the BMW Z4 and the Mercedes-Benz SLK insist that you come to a stop before the roof can be lowered, whereas the Boxster will bound along at speeds of more than 30 mph and still bare all. Have you ever lowered a convertible top at 30 mph? It feels insane; the roof whips away from the header rail like a toupee being ripped off by a tornado. And, when it stows, it doesn't stow in the same place that you keep your luggage, as it does in those other roadsters. So, top up or down, there's always a decent chunk of storage space in the trunk -- and, as before, there's another luggage compartment where most cars have their engine. It's a shame, though, that the new Boxster ditches the flush-fitting metal cover that once sat snugly atop part of the folded roof. The uppermost section of the roof is now fully on display, and the gaps between it and the bodywork are large and ungainly.
There are no complaints with the optional seven-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission that's fitted to our test car. The old unit was quick but slurred its shifts, adding a fuzziness that simply didn't fit with the sharp responses streaming back to the driver from everywhere else. The improved gearbox shifts more quickly, but there's also a crisper thunk as the next gear engages. It makes the experience more interactive yet no less refined. And, unlike so many automatics, it doesn't balk at multiple downshifts; pull the paddle four times in quick succession in seventh and, as long as you've got revs to spare, you'll nail third every time. It's by no means the soft option that the old Tiptronic once was. Still, there's no doubt that the standard six-speed manual will be the only choice for Porsche purists. It's an evolution of the unit in the previous car, meaning that the 911 maintains its seven-speed novelty.
The Boxster again launches with two engines and -- mirroring the 911 -- the base unit shrinks by almost 200 cubic centimeters, to 2.7 liters, while the engine in the Boxster S remains at 3.4 liters. The 3.4-liter unit sees an increase in both performance and economy: an extra 5 hp (now 315 hp) and an unchanged 266 lb-ft of torque combine with what should amount to a 2- or 3-mpg gain when official EPA figures are released. There's all sorts of clever stuff at work to achieve that improvement, including rapid heating of the powertrain components to reduce friction when the car is cold and a "sailing" mode that decouples the engine and gearbox when you gently back off the accelerator. And if you're driving hard and want engine braking when you back off the gas? The car knows, sensing that throttle control is more incisive and keeping the drivetrain connected. We tried -- and failed -- to trick it, but you can manually disable the system if you really don't like the idea.
With so many rivals switching to turbochargers in a bid to slash emissions and maximize mileage, it's become increasingly rare to drive a new car that's normally aspirated. So it's a treat when the 3.4-liter flat six's throttle response is absolutely in sync with your right foot, every fraction of extra accelerator travel yielding a symmetrical response, the revs crackling and zinging and spinning freely as you wind them beyond 6000 rpm. There might be more lethargy in the way it hauls itself from lower rpm than you'd experience with a 911 Carrera S, but, really, it's still intoxicating.
This, however, makes for something of a confusing juxtaposition with the steering. After all, Porsche could have gone with turbochargers to save fuel and lower emissions, but it didn't. Instead, it has carefully developed its stellar, normally aspirated flat six, because normally aspirated engines are crisper, more responsive, and more precise, and people who love driving love driving them. But then Porsche dropped its hydraulically assisted steering -- an equally important part of the Porsche DNA, we'd argue -- for a fully electric setup in a bid to save what amounts to a thimbleful of fuel.
Before driving this Boxster, I hadn't realized that the fizz of the normally aspirated flat six is, for me, cerebrally inseparable from the crackly feedback of Stuttgart's brilliant steering. But it is, and as much as I respect what the engineers have done with the new system -- it's accurate and quick and all that stuff -- the emotional connection is gone.
Porsche insiders defend the electric steering by saying there's no longer any need to run hydraulic lines from the engine to the steering, which saves weight and cost and complexity, plus it saves fuel. There's also enhanced safety, in that sensors moderate the forces acting on the steering during, for instance, an emergency stop, actively reducing the stopping distance. I don't care. The rack feels mute, and that's just not right.
The neutered steering feel is a negative, but it doesn't stop the new Boxster from being a truly sensational sports car. At the track, surface still wet after a violent hailstorm, the Boxster attacks a slalom with the adaptive dampers firmed up. As the car darts from side to side, it feels incredibly rigid and its body control is excellent, the nose flicking immediately and obediently in tune with every twirl of the wheel. It feels almost hyperactively alert, but in a good way. Push hard and overstep the mark a little, and there's a very different response from what you'd feel driving a last-generation 911, which typically slips slightly into understeer. Instead, the back end of the Boxster starts to slide a bit and the weight in the rear begins to come into play, gently tucking the nose of the car back into the apex. It feels graceful and progressive, a sensation you'll want to feel some more.
But if you really want to exploit this excellent balance, you'll need the optional Porsche Torque Vectoring system and its mechanical limited-slip differential. Our car has it, which gives a real precision to the way you can steer the car from the rear, and, on this damp track at least, it's easy to carve huge drifts through even the larger corners.
The Boxster is still a very connected, very visceral drive, no matter what all the improvements to ride quality and refinement might lead you to expect. We're left unsupervised on the track for a couple of hours and, frankly, it's gut-wrenching to hand back the keys.
For some, only a 911 cabriolet would be enough, but, for most of us -- and for almost half the price -- the new Boxster is a damn good substitute.


PRICE $65,050 (with PDK automatic)
ENGINE 3.4L flat-6, 315 hp @ 6700 rpm, 266 lb-ft @ 4500-5800 rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed automatic
DRIVE Rear-wheel
L x W x H 172.2 x 70.9 x 50.4 in (European-spec)
WEIGHT 2976 lb
0-60 MPH 4.7 sec
TOP SPEED 172 mph
2013 Porsche Boxster
2013 Porsche Boxster

New For 2013

Everything. The Boxster rides on a new, lighter platform, has more efficient and more powerful engines, and features a thoroughly updated interior. Its aggressive new sheetmetal is, for the first time, completely different from that of the 911.


The Boxster is all-new for 2013, but the best thing we can say about it is that it drives and feels pretty much the same. Under the subtly revised skin lives a smaller, 2.7-liter flat-six that nevertheless puts out ten more horsepower than its predecessor, for 265 hp total. The spicier Boxster S still employs a 3.4-liter flat-six, which gains 5 hp. Both models can again be had with a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The automatic incorporates a new freewheeling, or “sailing,” mode that decouples the engine from the wheels when coasting to save fuel. Despite gaining 2.4 inches in its wheelbase, the Boxster has actually lost weight, thanks to Porsche’s extensive use of aluminum. It also helps that Porsche has not joined the hardtop-convertible crowd. Instead, the Boxster has a fully automatic cloth top that folds neatly into a compartment separated from the rear trunk, leaving plenty of room for bags. Inside, the baby Porsche now has a similar layout to that of the Panamera and the new 911, with a high-rising center stack. Despite some quibbles with the new electric power steering, which doesn’t communicate as well as the old hydraulic setup, the new Boxster is a special car. Just like the old Boxster.


Front, side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; and traction and stability control are standard. Stability control can be disabled but will still intervene if you brake hard enough to activate ABS.

You'll like:

  • Mid-engine balance
  • Soulful yet surprisingly efficient flat-six

You won't like:

  • Can be pricey with options
  • Steering isn’t as perfect as the old car’s

Key Competitors For The 2013 Porsche Boxster

  • BMW Z4
  • Jaguar F-type
  • Mercedes-Benz SLK
2013 Porsche Boxster Left Side View
Each year we review dozens of new cars, encompassing everything from the cheapest subcompacts to the most powerful supercars. This year was no different, as our staff spread out across the globe to drive brand-new cars, updated cars, and occasionally cars that hadn't changed at all for several years. Some car reviews proved more popular than others, as evidenced by this list of the top 10 most popular new-car reviews we published in 2012.
2013 Porsche Boxster S Front End
I almost didn't come to work today. It took every bit of my self-restraint to steer the Boxster toward the office parking lot and not anywhere, everywhere else. I count the outgoing Boxster among my very favorite-driving cars of all time, and the brand-new 2013 model seems every bit as good, if not better. (I will definitely need more wheel time to decide that. OK, boss?)

2013 Porsche Boxster S

2013 Porsche Boxster S Cornering
It may not have the same cachet and recognition as the Mille Miglia or Le Mans, but the Targa Florio in Sicily was one of Europe's oldest and longest-running road races, spanning a more than 60-year history. Angus MacKenzie explore's the historic race's route in a 2013 Porsche Boxster S, while exploring the history and culture of the Mediterranean island.

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2013 Porsche Boxster Specifications

Quick Glance:
2.7L H6Engine
Fuel economy City:
20 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
30 MPG
265 hp @ 6700rpm
206 ft lb of torque @ 4400rpm
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control
  • Sunroof (optional)
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front
  • Stabilizer RearABS
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential (optional)
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear (optional)
  • Radio
  • CD Player
  • CD Changer (optional)
  • DVD (optional)
  • Navigation (optional)
50,000 miles / 48 months
50,000 miles / 48 months
Unlimited miles / 144 months
50,000 miles / 48 months
IIHS Front Small Overlap
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
IIHS Overall Side Crash
IIHS Rear Crash
IIHS Roof Strength

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5-Year Total Cost to Own For The 2013 Porsche Boxster

Loss in Value + Expenses
= 5 Year Cost to Own
Fuel Cost
Repair Costs
State Fees
Five Year Cost of Ownership: $54,335 What's This?
Value Rating: Below Average