2013 Porsche Boxster HD Video Review

There are cars that connect so well with a driver’s synapses that auto writers have to pause, reflect, study the sterile checklist, review it again, and then think twice about gushing like a little schoolgirl.  The 2013 Porsche Boxster is just that.  Porsche tends to do things the right way so let’s just cut right to it- yes, Boxster is a great car.  This is the kind of machine that lures a guy out of bed very early on the weekend, just to drive without traffic on a winding country road.

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This is pretty much all you need to know.  Go ahead, pour over specs and compare them to other high performance roadsters such as Nissan’s 370Z and the Chevy Corvette.  That won’t tell you what you need to know.  There are no engineering metrics to measure soul.  If you have 50 grand for the base model (73 grand as tested) and need to carry just one passenger, put the 2013 Porsche Boxter on your short list.  It’s just that simple.

You Probably Want to Know More, Huh?

Okay then, for 2013 the chassis and body are new.  It’s an inch and half wider, the wheelbase is now two and a half inches longer.  Overall, length grows only slightly.  At 75 pounds lighter, the body’s torsional rigidity is up by forty percent.  Hmmm, what’s the German word for impressive?

There’s 10 more horsepower now but a skosh less torque (280 Nm at 4,500-6,500 rpm vs. 290 Nm at 4,400-6,000 rpm for the 2012).  Open the rear hatch and you won’t see the premium fuel drinking, 265 horse 6-cylinder.  It’s nestled between the seats and a nicely finished cargo area so lay down protection when filling the fluids. Turn the left-mounted ignition and you’ll definitely hear it.  Boxster generates a terrific noise that’s great fun to hear from behind.  How musical is it?  I’ve left the excellent Bose sound system off except to test it.  Fun fact- it uses 10 quarts of engine oil (the engine, not the Bose system).

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Shifty

A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic type transmission is available.  Known as the PDK (because few can pronounce Doppelkupplungsgetriebe) it is a fabulous piece of work with blink-of-an–eye gear changes.  My tester has the crisp six-speed manual with a close proximity to the excellent steering wheel, heated on my tester.  I love manuals but knowing what the PDK is like, the automatic is my personal choice.

Boxster is a mid-engine car with a powerplant that lays deep and low for better balance.  The pistons fire horizontally rather than the usual vertical orientation found on most engines.  This is called a Boxer engine.  It’s also a two-seat convertible, AKA roadster.  Put the two descriptors together and you get the Boxster name.

You Can Just Call it Thrilling

0-60 happens in five and a half seconds but more than velocity, Boxster is about the total experience.  The low center of gravity and mid-engine design give Boxster cat-like moves.  Push hard and deep into a corner and it comminutes EXACTLY what’s going on, proof that electric power steering can be done right. It helps that the structure is as solid as an ingot. No squeaks, no rattles, no quivers.  This is automotive meth.  It is very hard to go back to a family sedan after driving a Boxster.   Very, very hard.

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Wind management is pretty good, those looking to completely eliminate hair tousling miss the point.  It’s a convertible.  Bring a hairbrush.  The sound and feel of the engine has a gravitas that must be experienced to be understood.  It’s mechanical in a refined sort of way.  If a Rolex watch had an engine, it would be just like this one.  The EPA rates the fuel economy of the manual at 20 city, 30 highway.  The seven-speed PDK gets two MPG better.

There’s optional torque vectoring and active suspension, both are on my tester.  Extremely capable brakes are standard (12.4” in front, 11.77” in back).  Various levels of electronic stability control can be selected by the driver.  Order the Sport Chrono package and Porsche throws in active transmission mounts that soften to reduce vibration and increase comfort, or firm up for less drive line flex and better power efficiency.

Active self-aligning steering makes sure that the steering wheel is automatically returned to the straight ahead position. Brake on surfaces with different levels of grip and the steering input is stabilized, making it easier to keep control of the car.  Boxster can even save drivers from embarrassment; stall the engine and simply pushing in on the clutch restarts it.

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Really, I could go on for pages describing how the stability control, active suspension, toque vectoring, and PDK transmission interact with each other to make you a better driver, but it would be a long, long read. Just know that it works, and it’s fun.

Top Notch Top

Boxster uses cloth rather than a hard top material, allowing for lighter weight, better packaging and a lower center of gravity.  It’s insulated and the back glass window is mounted perfectly flush to the high-grade material.  With a one step operation, the roof does its thing in less than nine seconds.  The new Boxster does without a top cover now for more cargo space.

As expected in a Porsche (and any other car starting at 50 large) the detail, craftsmanship and materials are top grade.  It’s a great space to see the world from, complete with the most over-engineered cupholders in the automotive universe.  Seats are supportive, comfortable, heated and cooled in this case, plus adjustable in 14 ways.  The switchable right gauge in the cluster rocks.  It puts useful information in front of the driver including suggested shift points and a g-meter that’s a kick in the pants to play around with.

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Boxster’s cabin is tailored for two people with door storage and a pocket down near the passenger’s feet.  Not much in the way of cubby holes behind the back seat though.  Porsche door releases allow your fingers to just glide in.  The parking brake is electric, a power tilt/telescope steering wheel is optional.

Porsche’s touch screen interface is pretty simple and intuitive.  Sonic parking assist is handy since large headrests and a removable windscreen compromise rearward visibility.  A back-up cam would be appreciated.  Another gripe? The USB port located in the glovebox is a reach for the driver.

Which Trunk Will You Use Most?

Performing the TP test with a Porsche Boxster is a two-step operation.  In what most think of as the traditional cargo area, a single bundle fills the space. Don’t forget there’s space up front, it holds twice as much for a total of three packs.  Better than most roadsters.  I suggest luggage when traveling though, last time I checked hotels supply TP for free.

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To my eye the 2013 model is the best-looking Boxster ever.  Park last year’s model next to generation three and there’s a dramatic difference.  Crisper.  Sharper.  More extroverted.  It’s a very purposeful design right down to the air intakes up front and on the sides.  The bee sting exhaust remains and I appreciate the way the taillight flows into the spoiler lip.  Hats off to the guys in Stuttgart, nice job.

If the standard model doesn’t have enough power for you there’s always the Boxster S with 315 horsepower.  Maybe you’re at the other end of the spectrum and want to conserve fuel.  Go with the PDK dual-clutch transmission and there’s a unique mode that allows for efficient coasting.  There’s also a stop/start system so you don’t burn fuel idling at stoplights.

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Summing Up

Again, as tested this particular car goes for 73 grand.  I consider it a bargain.  Look, I don’t admire this car just because of the brand and the image that comes with it.   I’m impressed by the fact that Porsche has created something visceral, and anyone who drives it can instinctively understand why it costs what it does.  Telepathic handing, impressive build quality, and the perfect engine note have a way of getting under your skin.  Throw in good looks and a great view of the sky and the 2013 Porsche Boxter is pretty hard to resist.  I say we all go out and buy lottery tickets.  If you win, think of me, okay?

FULL GALLERY BELOW. BOXSTER S MODEL SHOWN. ALL STILL IMAGES PROVIDED BY PORSCHE.

12 Comments

  1. Rookie.Rider says:

    Hey Tom,

    Another terrific review. Thank you.

    I know this particular car has a traditional manual transmission. If you had gotten a car with paddle shifters and dual clutch transmission, would you still have to let off on the gas before upshifting with the paddles? In other words, with a dual-clutch transmission operated via paddle shifters, do you need to let off on the gas before shifting?

    Thanks

    • TV says:

      No, you don’t need to let off the throttle. I really like the PDK transmission and it would be one of the few options I would strongly consider should I ever buy one of these.

  2. Facepalm says:

    I had no idea the Boxster got its name from combining “boxer” and “roadster” until I saw this review.
    You learn something new with every Tom Voelk review!
    Keep up the good work, Tom!

  3. motorstreet says:

    I found your conclusion that the Boxster is a bargain a little hard to swallow at first, but then I looked around at what else you can get for Boxster money. The Corvette is tempting and I’m a huge fan of the Lotus Evora, but ultimately the Boxster is the car I’d get. Porsches are very expensive, but if you don’t go crazy with the options the 911, Boxster, Cayman, and Panamera are worth it.

    • TV says:

      Yeah, I know that sounds a little flip to the casual observer but once you get to know the machine it really is something for the price, especially when you consider the price of a 911. All I need is a lightly optioned one, I don;t need cooled seats and all.

  4. Toaster says:

    Wow. I have to say, if I had the money I think I’d buy the car just for the cupholders! Those are awesome!! :)

    I agree, this is definitely the best looking Boxster ever. Drop dead gorgeous! I’d love to have one even for a few days!

    Great review Tom.

  5. hiptech says:

    Great review as always…

    I half expected you to make some analogy to the Mazda MX-5 (Miata) by alluding how the Boxster might be considered a Miata on steroids. Or what that have been an inadequate comparison?

    BTW, “Evil Twin” was conspicuous by his absence… if he were truly evil you should have shoved him in behind the seats just to irritate him… :)

    • TV says:

      No doubt the Miata is a fun car. I own one. Boxster is in a different league.

      I can never count on Evil Twin to show up on shoots. What a flake…

  6. fatbaldandhappy says:

    $70K (and that’s not even the S) for the “poor mans porsche”. Ahhhh to be such a pauper. She’s a beauty no doubt and as much as I’m sure she drives like a dream- maybe it’s better to not know what one is missing when the promise of minivan dynamics pave the foreseeable future. The good news is by the time the minivan is ready to be put down I can likely pick one of these up in the “poor mans mazda” price range.

    Thanks for the 7+ minutes of dream time. Now I have to go figure out where that smell is coming from…

    • TV says:

      I would argue that the base model should be just as fun at 50k. That said, “pre-owned” is a beautiful thing. Owners tend to take good care of their Porsches.

  7. DinoParks says:

    Thanks Tom, good review.
    My little brother just traded an 80′s 911 for used Boxster. I was telling him if I could buy a new Porsche I would get a Boxster (or maybe a Cayman) over the 911, which I never thought I would say. But as much as I love the 911, the Boxster just seems to be a more pure drivers car these days.

  8. raghu4026 says:

    I love your reviews. Rolex watch with an engine was a good one. Makes me wanna buy a Boxster! Great review, keep it coming!