Photo: Travis Okulski / Business Insider
Disclosure: Porsche flew me to Birmingham, AL to drive the new Boxster S and covered all expenses. I ate far too much pulled pork while I was there.
In the early 1990s, Porsche was not the uber-profitable powerhouse it is now. Sales were down and finances were grim.
They needed a new car with mass appeal.
When Porsche first showed the Boxster Concept in 1993, it was met with rave reviews for the styling inspired by Porsches past, including the legendary 550 Spyder. It hit the roads in 1996.
And man was it a success. The Boxster was Porsche’s biggest seller for seven years, until the Cayenne SUV appeared on the scene.
Photo: Travis Okulski / Business Insider
For 2013, the Boxster has received a raft of upgrades to make it faster and more capable than ever. I drove the Boxster S, which has a starting price of $60,900.aluminium is prominent throughout the body to keep weight low. The 315 horsepower flat six engine works with Porsche’s double clutch gearbox, the eloquently named Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (I’ll call it PDK from here out), to rocket the car to 60 MPH in a scant 4.8 seconds.
So when Porsche asked if I’d like to sample the car at Barber Motorsports Park, which is one of the best race tracks in the nation, on an autocross course, and on the surrounding roads, there was no possible way that I could say no. I would’ve skipped the birth of my own son to be there.
I'll make this short. The new Boxster S is one of the most capable cars I've ever driven.
Unsurprisingly, Porsche's engineers really know what they're doing. Ride quality on the roads is absolutely superb. Put the car into Sport or Sport+, and it just gets better. The suspension firms up, throttle response is sharpened, and the Boxster goes from comfortable cruiser to hardcore in no time flat.
Put it on an autocross or a track, and the whole car comes alive. The Boxster is very neutral, with no perceptible understeer or oversteer through a corner. If you enter a corner too hot and get on the power too early, then yes, you can make it understeer. But you really have to try -- or drive like an idiot -- to induce it.
The Boxster has the ability to transfer power from side to side (torque vectoring) while cornering which speeds up the rotation of the rear. At first it feels weird, but once you're used to it you can use it to your advantage by turning less and getting on the power earlier. This was especially useful in the hairpin turns at the autocross.
Porsche also has some great brakes on the car. Get on the binders at 115 MPH (remember, I was on a race track), and the car slows down with just a slight wiggle of the hips as weight is transferred.
The Boxster is such an easy car to drive very, very fast.
The driving experience is not the only part of the Boxster that has become sharper.
A more muscular exterior features stacked headlights like those on the 918 Spyder concept. Around back, LED tailights actually integrate the spoiler into the design.
I think it's a great looking car.
It didn't hurt that my tester came in black with Porsche's 20-inch Carrera S wheels. It was all topped off with a red soft top and interior.
Firm seats, soft touch materials, and great gauges, are all topped off with a fantastic feeling steering wheel.
It's just a nice place to be.
The nav screen was very clear and it could even be displayed on the third gauge in the cluster.
I did find passenger leg room to be slightly lacking, but that is barely a complaint.
The steering wheel mounted buttons for the gearbox were confusing. Instead of a traditional 'right side shifts up, left side shifts down' paddle setup, Porsche chose to have multifunction buttons on each side that do both. My codriver and I both downshifted a number of times when we meant to upshift. It got annoying.
But since Porsche offers a wheel with traditional paddles, this is more an annoyance with the car I was provided, and not an issue with the car itself.
At the beginning of the day, the biggest problem came from behind the wheel, and it wasn't part of the car. It was me. I have a good bit of track and race experience on my resume, but the way I was driving created a healthy amount of mid-corner understeer.
Give me a break, I was really excited.
Once I got my exuberance under control, the understeer went away and the Boxster became one of the finest cars I've ever driven.
Where do I start?
I love the chiseled lines of the new car and especially like the duckbill shape to the integrated rear spoiler. Put the spoiler up and down quickly and it looks like a duck is quacking (sorry for that analogy).
The PDK gearbox is smooth and unbelievably fast. It even has built in launch control, which made the car take off perfectly every time.
But the best feature, by far, is how the car handles. The torque vectoring, variable suspension geometry, and other trick doodads make for a truly amazing experience.
Since I only got 10 laps on the track (which isn't enough to really learn it and push), I took a ride around with legendary endurance racer Hurley Haywood at the end of the day. He showed me what the car can really do in the hands of a pro driver that knows his way around the race track. It's a balanced, beautiful ride.
In one word? Yes.
In two words? Hell yes.
In more words? If you have the money and want the performance, the Boxster S is probably the best car you can buy today. The base car starts at $49,500 while the S that I drove starts at just more than $60,000. Options can quickly get the price above $80,000, which is a lot for a Boxster and encroaching on 911 territory.
However, at the end of my time with the car, I was trying to figure out how to put one in my garage. This included scouting the security at local banks to see which one would be the easiest to rob as well as befriending elderly people that I thought might be wealthy.
If you want a 2013 Boxster, it will be at dealerships this July.
I'm going to line up for one now. This car is outrageously good.
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