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The 2013 Porsche Boxster features a lightweight new body with fresh styling and a completely revamped chassis that rides on a longer wheelbase and a wider track with larger wheels. Two six-cylinder engines are available, a 2.7-liter for the 2013 Boxster and a 3.4-liter liter for the 2013 Boxster S, each more powerful yet more fuel-efficient than the engine it replaces due to 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 outgoing model. The new roadster is a significant achievement that takes what has long been the entry to the Porsche franchise and moves it up several notches. While it's by no means perfect, the new Boxster is good enough to give some Porsche aficionados reason to think twice before moving all the way up to the new 911, at nearly twice the price.
Like the seventh-generation Porsche 911, the new Boxster is longer, slightly wider and a half-inch lower than before. 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.
We were somewhat surprised when we first heard Porsche would downsize the base engine, which drops from 2.9 to just 2.7 liters. But that proved no reason to worry, the wizards of Stuttgart still managing to squeeze out 10 more horsepower than before, at 265 hp. Torque did slip, ever so slightly, but not enough to negatively impact performance, we quickly discovered.
Better yet, the 2013 Porsche Boxster winds up eking out a full 3 mpg increase in highway fuel economy: now rating an EPA-estimated 32 mpg Highway with the 7-speed dual clutch gearbox.
For those who want more performance, there's the new Boxster S which swaps for a bigger 3.4-liter package that takes power up to 315 hp, a 5-horsepower bump over the old Boxster S, while torque holds flat at 266 pound-feet. With the lighter mass and other improvements, the 2013 Boxster S cuts about a second off the standard Boxster's estimated 5.5 second 0 to 60 times.
If there are reasons to be disappointed they include the decision to make the optional manual gearbox a 6-speed, rather than offering the breakthrough 7-speed introduced with the all-new 2012 Porsche 911. The other gripe is with the new electro-hydraulic steering system. Okay, not a big gripe. It does pretty much everything you ask of it except deliver the sort of progressive build-up of resistance you might expect the faster and deeper you dive into a corner. That said, the steering feels slightly more precise than that on the 911, which a Porsche engineer explained was the benefit of launching the 2013 Boxster a half-year later.
But the bottom line for us is that the new 2013 Boxster is what we always knew Porsche was capable of. It's handsome, competent and as much fun to drive as the original. Okay, a lot more fun. 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.