May 25, 2012
Before I start waxing poetic about its balance again, let’s cover some of the revisions Porsche made on this 981 generation Boxster. The most significant revision is the first all-new chassis since the Boxster’s inception in 1996. Although length barely increases (by only 3 mm to 4,374), Porsche has added 60 mm to the wheelbase, growing to 2,475 mm. Porsche also increased the front track to 1525 mm and rear track to 1,539 mm, giving the Boxster greater stability and allowing even greater handling, stability, and ride comfort. The size increase definitely pays dividends with a cabin that feels roomy yet intimate, although with the roof up and thick canvas pillars reduce visibility and leave the cabin feeling a bit gloomy and confined.
2013 Porsche Boxster S; photos courtesy Porsche AG. Click image to enlarge
With all these size gains (not to mention added features and equipment) you’d expect to hear about excessive weight gain, but the Boxster S actually dropped in weight thanks to the completely new aluminum-steel design whose body shell is composed of 46 percent aluminum, and the remaining bits mostly steel, and with lightweight magnesium in various interior components and roof mechanisms. The intensive redesign affords weight savings across the range, and for a PDK-equipped S such as we drove, it drops a total of 29 kg, resulting in a 1,350 kg curb weight. Less weight means better performance and better fuel economy.
Porsche is also jumping in with the fuel-saving technologies that do not interfere with performance, like auto stop-start, direct injection, coasting mode, and smarter charging of the battery (saving combustion power exclusively for acceleration under heavy throttle). The net result is at least 10 percent improvement in fuel economy across the range. A Boxster S with the PDK is estimated at 9.9 L/100 km for city driving and 6.6 L/100 km on the highway. Those are pretty modest numbers for a purebred sports car.
2013 Porsche Boxster S; photo courtesy Porsche AG. Click image to enlarge
Okay, now that I’m done with that token citation of fuel economy, we can talk about the engine in earnest. As mentioned, power is up on all Boxster and S models, although not significantly, but it’s not like it really needed it with the weight savings. The Boxster S’s horizontally opposed (“boxer”) six-cylinder engine remains at 3.4 L, its peak 315 horsepower coming at 6700 rpm, so there is a payoff to winding it all the way up to high revs. Peak torque is also found fairly high in the rev range, a maximum of 266 lb-ft at 4,500–5,800 rpm. However, there is plenty of exploitable torque from fairly early on when driving casually thanks to variable valve lift and timing (VarioCam Plus) and improved airflow in the intake manifold, with air coming in from both of those massive air intakes on sides of the car just behind the doors.
Those air intakes might just be the most dramatic feature of the new design, even more clearly drawing inspiration from the Carrera GT. Those intakes, and the body creases at the top and bottom of the door that lead into them, seem the most obvious homage to the Carrera GT, but even the shape of the stacked headlights, the bulging front fenders, and the front air dams seem to reflect that model’s timeless design. At the other end, the line created by the pop-up spoiler extends into the taillights as with the new 911, tying together Porsche’s current design identity. Many of the (male) journalists seemed pleased with the “more masculine” styling, although I find the back end a bit convoluted and awkward, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying every second of driving it.