2013 Porsche Boxster review:

Buffer Boxster goes from cute car to sports car

Starting at $49,500
  • Engine Flat 6 Cylinder Engine
  • Drivetrain Rear-Wheel Drive
  • MPG 26 MPG
  • Passenger Capacity 2
  • Body Type Convertibles

Roadshow Editors' Rating

7.7 Overall
  • Cabin tech 7
  • Performance tech 9
  • Design 7

The Good The 2013 Porsche Boxster is a fantastically well-balanced vehicle, offering the right amount of power, responsiveness, and grip for a grin-inducing ride. Optional PCM infotainment system checks all of the right tech boxes. The power retractable top is well designed and can be operated at up to 31 mph.

The Bad Fold-away cupholders are among the worst in the business. Expensive options rapidly drive the Boxter's price up.

The Bottom Line The 2013 Porsche Boxster delivers fantastically balanced performance and full-featured tech, but avoid expensive luxury items for the best value.

Tell a stranger that you drive a Porsche and ears perk up. Tell that same person that the Porsche in question is a Boxster and, if you're talking to a gearhead, you'll probably catch a slight eye-roll. In spite of its midengine configuration and the fantastic handling it brings, the Boxster has traditionally had to contend with reputation ranging from "poseur's Porsche" to "hairdresser's car." This is the problem with living in the shadow of The Mighty 911.

For 2013, the Porsche Boxster again does battle with preconceived notions, but this time it's armed with a more aggressive, muscular appearance.

More masculine design
The new Boxster features larger side intakes that are more deeply set into rear-quarter panels and deeply crease the doors, echoing those of the Porsche Carrera GT and making the previous-generation Boxsters' look a bit silly and inadequate by comparison. Above those vents are shoulders that are more defined, giving the Boxster a muscular appearance when viewed from the front quarter. Likewise, the front fender bulges are more defined, rising above the sloping hood in a very 911-esque manner.

At the leading edge of those fender bulges are headlights that are similar to those of the Panamera, featuring black housings with chrome rings surrounding the vertically stacked lighting elements with bi-xenon projectors. Porsche has mostly avoided the trend of LED halos or ribbons flowing around the headlights, but the enlarged front intakes on the bumper integrate LED strips that functions as DRLs.

At the opposite end of the Boxster, the taillight combos have been horizontally elongated. The clear portions of the lights have been compressed to slivers that flow into and are now joined by the lip of motorized spoiler when retracted. This designer's trick visually flattens and widens the Boxster. Along with the Boxster's trademark center exhaust, the new vehicle looks more aggressive than the previous model, but its rear end is also more busy, which may turn off longtime fans of the Boxster's traditionally simple aesthete.

Porsche Boxster

The Boxster's motorized spoiler deploys at high speed to aid in vehicle stability.

Josh Miller/CNET

Power retractable fabric roof
The Boxster was designed from the ground up as a roadster, so of course a good deal of effort went into designing a power retractable top that stows away at the drop of a hat. The fabric roof, so chosen to keep weight down and because the Boxster has always used a fabric top, drops or rises in about 9 seconds with just the flip of a switch. Interestingly, the roof can be operated at speeds up to 31 mph, so you don't even need to stop to go open-air. When stowed, the roof forms its own tonneau cover just behind the roll hoops and wind deflector.

Porsche's doing something right in the aerodynamics department, because the Boxster's cockpit never gets too blustery; even at highway speeds. Its cabin is even quieter with the thick roof fabric and glass rear window insulating, but the Boxster is meant to be driven with top stowed.

Porsche Boxster

Aside from its great weight distribution, the midengine form factor grants the Boxster two trunks.

Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Like every Boxster that's preceded it, the 2013 model features a midengine, rear-wheel drive train that places the engine just behind the two-passenger cockpit and ahead of the rear axle. This configuration means that the Boxster has two trunks, one under the hood and another at the back of the vehicle. Making a trip to Ikea in the Boxster is probably out of the question, but there's more than enough space for a weekend getaway with a pair of small suitcases.

In the cabin, on the other hand, storage space is a bit more difficult to come by. A small nook behind each seat can accommodate a laptop bag and a small center console can hold a phone, but the weird cupholders are probably the worst in the business. You Porschephiles already scrolling to the comments section to lambast me for complaining about cupholders should know that I'm not asking for 10 cupholders, just a place to stow a bottle of water during a long drive. The current ones that fold out of the dashboard flop all over the place during spirited driving and that's just not acceptable.

Part of the reason the Boxster has had to contend with the reputation of "Trophy Wife-mobile" is that its performance sits at the low end of the Porsche spectrum.

The Boxster's 2.7-liter flat-6 engine's 265 horsepower and 206 pound-feet of torque taken out of context are a pittance compared with the current-generation (and similarly priced) Infiniti G37 Convertible's 325 horsepower, but let's add some context, shall we? Consider that, at 2,888 pounds, the Boxster is 1,195 pounds lighter than the G and you'll begin to see how the purpose-built roadster makes due with less, matching the Convertible's approximate 0-60 time of 5.5 seconds.

However, the advantages of being lightweight, low to the ground, and based on a midengine platform extend beyond the dragstrip, paying dividends at the apex of every corner that you approach in the 2013 Boxster. The Boxster is an amazingly well-balanced vehicle that I found to be quite responsive and willing (but not too eager) to rotate around a center axis that seemed to pass right through my spine. Clearly defined corners and a responsive and communicative chassis seemed to hardwire my brain to the Boxster's optional 19-inch S-style wheels and their grippy, staggered-fit tires. Even if you manage to get the Boxster out of sorts 'round a bend, the standard stability control and torque vectoring system would gently straighten things out for you.

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