Redesigned for 2013, Porsche Boxster featured a lightweight new body with fresh styling and a completely revamped chassis, which rode on a longer wheelbase and a wider track with larger wheels. Nothing has changed for 2014, except for some new body-color choices and some new options: The 2014 Boxster is available with adaptive cruise control, Burmester audio, and a Premium Plus package.
Two six-cylinder engines are available: a 2.7-liter for Boxster and a 3.4-liter liter for Boxster S. Each is more powerful, yet more fuel-efficient, than the engine it replaced due to adoption of direct fuel injection and other technologies.
How far things have come since the original Porsche Boxster made its debut 15 years ago. Back then, it was one of an assortment of new German roadsters, along with the Mercedes-Benz SLK and the BMW Z3, aiming to carve out a niche above that most affordable of 2-seaters, the Mazda Miata. That first-generation Porsche was fun to drive and arguably the most sporty and competent of the Teutonic trio, but there was a massive gap between the Boxster and the classic 911. Each successive generation of the Boxster has gotten better and better, both in terms of looks and performance. And that's clearly the case with the 2013 redesign.
This latest version is more mature than the pre-2013 version. The roadster is a significant achievement that took what had long been the entry to the Porsche franchise and moved it up several notches. While it's by no means perfect, the current Boxster is good enough to give some Porsche aficionados reason to think twice before moving all the way up to the 911, at nearly twice the price.
The current Boxster is longer, slightly wider and a half-inch lower than pre-2013 models. It makes extensive use of lightweight materials, including magnesium and aluminum, which results in both a lower overall mass and a better center of gravity.
The 2.7-liter six-cylinder in the Boxster delivers 265 horsepower and ekes out an EPA-estimated 22/32 mpg City/Highway with the 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox (20/30 mpg with manual shift). Auto start/stop is standard.
Boxster S features a 3.4-liter engine that produces 315 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. Boxster S cuts about a second off the standard Boxster's estimated 5.5-second 0-to-60 times. With dual-clutch, Boxster S gets an EPA-estimated 21/30 mpg.
The Porsche Boxster is handsome, competent and more fun to drive than the original. If we hadn't seen how far the German maker could go with the latest 911, we might have thought this was the marque's flagship.
Boxster comes standard with partial leather/Alcantara seats with power recline, three-spoke leather-wrapped wheel with power tilt/telescope, dual-zone automatic climate control, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio with 7-inch LCD screen, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, power heated mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, HomeLink, cruise control, alarm, automatic-extending rear spoiler, and 18-inch aluminum wheels.
A huge list of options includes PASM Porsche Active Suspension Management ($1,790); PTV Porsche Torque Vectoring ($1,320); Power Steering Plus ($270); Sport Chrono Package ($1,850); Infotainment with Bose Surround Sound ($3,860); leather interior, power seats, sports seats, seat ventilation, special interior trim; sports exhaust ($2,825); front and rear Park Assist ($860).
The mid-engine layout is a critical defining factor in design, but the design of the new 911, a rear-engine car, has clearly influenced the new Boxster's overall styling. We think some folks may mistake the new Boxster for a previous-generation 911 Cabrio.
The windshield moved forward by about four inches, compared to the previous generation, while the Boxster's tall front fenders and sloping headlamps bear a clear hint of 911. Sculpted side panels, which flow into deep air scoops just behind the doors, bear the imprint of the Carrera GT. The 2014 Porsche Boxster features flowing LED taillamps that pinch in under the decklid, just beneath the integrated rear spoiler.
The overall look is devoid of excess ornamentation and presents a more mature look for the Porsche Boxster.
The Boxster is a roadster and it takes a brief 9 seconds to raise or lower the top. To our knowledge, that's the fastest of any ragtop on the market.
The added wheelbase has largely benefited the interior, starting with seats that can travel an extra inch rearward. Those seats, meanwhile, offer substantial lateral support, as we discovered during both some aggressive track driving and a slightly more leisurely route through the Alabama countryside. But they're also pleasantly comfortable after even several hours behind the wheel.
Looking through the steering wheel, you'll discover an attractive three-gauge cluster reminiscent of both the latest 911 and the four-door Porsche Panamera. It was the Panamera that introduced the distinctive center console, where the majority of the car's switches and controls are located. That design layout carries over into the Boxster.
The overall look and feel, meanwhile, is decidedly more refined than the Boxsters of the past. As with all recent Porsche offerings, the maker has been recognizing that it is, after all, as much a luxury car maker as a manufacturer of high-performance automobiles. There's no reason to settle for chintzy switches, handles and knobs, and the Boxster is proof in point.
Porsche Boxster comes with a 2.7-liter engine that generates 265 horsepower at 6700 rpm. Torque output is 206 pound-feet at 4400-6500 rpm. 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 PDK and Sport Chrono. 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 comes with a 3.4-liter flat-six that generates 315 horsepower at 6700 rpm, 266 pound-feet of torque available 4500-5800 rpm. Porsche says Boxster S can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds with the 6-speed manual, 4.7 seconds with PDK, 4.5 seconds with PDK with Sport Chrono. Fuel economy for Boxster S is an estimated 20/28 mpg City/Highway with manual, according to the U.S. government, or 21/30 mpg with the PDK. Premium gas is required.
We spent most of our time during our Alabama sojourn in a Boxster equipped with the Porsche Doppelkupplung; or PDK 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. The manual gearbox works well and is the preference of traditionalists.
Another debate centers around the Boxster's 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. Porsche engineers said they had even more time to tweak and tune the steering system since the 911 rolled out. Although it's responsive and precise, 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.
The road manners of the Boxster encourages aggressive driving, as we discovered during our time behind the wheel both at the Barber race track in Alabama, as well as during a couple hours of driving through the 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 Chrono Package which features some trick magnetorheological 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.
The optional Porsche Torque Vectoring system, or PTV, 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 current Boxster's wider track keeps the two-seater firmly planted and willing to respond to even the most demanding driver inputs.
Thoroughly redesigned for 2013, the Porsche Boxster is a refined and enjoyable sports car with precise, responsive handling that encourages spirited driving. Boxster S can do 0-60 in less than five seconds, but the standard model is a sensational sports car that delivers more than enough performance for most of us. Options can drive the price up dramatically.
Paul Eisenstein filed this NewCarTestDrive.com report after his test drive of the Porsche Boxster near Birmingham, Alabama, and at Barber Motorsports Park.