Although the 911 remains the most iconic sports car in Porsche’s lineup, the Boxster is popular due to its title as Porsche’s most affordable sports car. In the 1990s, Porsche experienced financial trouble as its 911 was too expensive, and interest in their cars were waning. The solution was to make an entry level sports car that would slot in below the 911 in terms of performance and price. Using styling cues from old Porsche models and all new engines and technologies, the Boxster debuted in 1997. With a price more attainable than the 911, the Boxster made Porsche relevant. With a mid engine layout, the Boxster provided unparallelled handling brilliance. I got the opportunity to review a 2001 Porsche Boxster S, and I was amazed at its handling and performance. The second generation debuted in 2005, and the Cayman, a coupe version of the Boxster, was introduced. The Boxster was redesigned again in 2012. Having got to drive the 2001, I was interested to see how this 2013 measured up.
The Boxster has always used styling cues from the 911, and this generation is no exception. This is most apparent in the front with the bug eye headlights and bumper design. The front is noticeably wider than you would expect. The side profile is where things get interesting. The air intake behind the door and the subtle rising beltline towards the rear make for a distinctive silhouette. The rear is dramatically different than previous Boxsters due to different taillights and a spoiler. The spoiler cuts into both of the lights, and I have a hard time debating whether I like this detail or not. The center mounted dual exhausts is a nice touch. The interior shares a similar design with other Porsches meaning the interior feels stoic and there are a lot of buttons present. Regardless, the Boxster is stunning inside and out.
No doubt about it, this is one of the best handling cars I have driven. The Boxster corners adeptly with virtually no body lean. Thanks to its mid engine layout and excellent tire grip, it stays balanced and its handling gives the sensation of driving a go-kart. Even with the stability control off, the Boxster remains impressively controllable. If the back end gets out of line, all that is needed is a flick of the wheel to bring it back in line. The responsive steering moves with a surgical like precision. It weights up progressively while it is also light enough to make parking a breeze. The only thing wrong with the steering is the feedback. While it is excellent for a car, it’s not as detailed as you expect a Porsche to be. Porsches are known for providing unfiltered steering feel. Now as Porsche made the move from hydraulic to an electric steering setup, some of the feel that I experienced in the 2001 has been lost in this. Surprisingly for a sports car, the ride is comfortable. While there is an underlying firmness, road imperfections are not noticeable and it stays supple on all surfaces. The braking performance is excellent.
With 265 horsepower, the flat six engine never struggles getting the Boxster up to speed. It feels strong at any speed, but its sweet spot lies in its midrange. Get the revs up to 3,000 and there is a big surge in power. At highway speeds, there is plenty of overtaking power. The PDK automated manual transmission is excellent. It has lightning quick shifts, and it seems well matched to this engine. As great as this transmission is, I would still go for the standard manual transmission and save three grand. Yes, the automatic is faster than the manual, but the latter gives you a better connection between the driver and the car. Fuel economy is good at around 25 mpg overall. A 315 horsepower six cylinder is available.