For example, I found myself recently at Barber Motorsports Park outside Birmingham, Ala. for the debut of the newly redesigned 2013 Porsche Boxter. For the day, I’d be able to drive the new car around the Barber track – home to countless professional racing events – and through the woodsy, rolling hills of rural Alabama.
That all sounds sweet, and it was. But the bitterness hit me once I realized I wouldn’t be enjoying that same pile of German driving pleasure the next day.
The new Boxter will hit well-polished, immaculate showrooms in two models – the base and the S version. For an MSRP of $49,500, the standard model offers a 2.7 liter, 6 cylinder engine with the choice of a manual or an automated manual (read: automatic with paddle shifting capability) transmissions.
The $60,000 S version is the more muscular, with a 3.4 liter, flat 6 cylinder engine and the same transmission options. That was this model I took out on the Barber track and around red state country.
On the track, the Boxter is a naturalized citizen – a perfect little track day car for those who can afford such a toy. The two-seater is light enough – thanks to composite materials that help to justify its price tag – that its 315 direct-injected horsepower is enough to drive those rear wheels to 190 mph, according to the speedometer. I never had a chance to flirt with that on the Barber straightaways, but 100+ was easily and quickly in reach.
As for fuel economy, who cares? It’s a Porsche. If you’re driving it, gas prices aren’t really a problem. Let’s move on.
The modified MacPherson struts, four wheel independent suspension and front/rear stabilizers offer complete confidence in both Barber’s hairpins and wider rimshot turns. But, my favorite feature was the Boxter’s ceramic composite brakes. It took a couple laps for me to realize just how fierce the braking system really is as their smooth, firm grip brought me down from that three-figure speed to proper turn velocity with just a firm stab.
However, its the new exterior where the new Boxter really breaks away from its ancestors. This was always the flat, little Porsche – with a body shape unlike the more bulbous 911 and more akin to a Mercedes two-seat roadster. Now, Porsche engineers have transformed the vehicle into a much more aggressive and sporty ride. I think it’s the best looking Porsche the company has put out in years.
Air-slicing, raised front fenders merge into contoured doors with larger scoops into a classic racer line that continues all the way to the cropped back end. I’m almost ashamed to admit it – almost – but I have to steal another writer’s line. I was talking to another auto journalist from Baltimore who absolutely nailed what all of that new styling means: The 2013 Boxter finally looks like a proper Porsche.
I had to get away from the track to see how the general public would react to the new look. Suffice to say folks in Birmingham and its surrounding agricultural suburbs don’t get a chance to see a Porsche in the wild very often. And this new design was twisting heads around.
One friendly and proud redneck in a Ford pickup wanted to drag race. Not that I would ever do something so immature with an expensive test car, but I did let him get a length ahead just for fun before I left him clear back in Louisiana.
A hard working guy moving concrete blocks outside a Whataburger asked me to stop for a second just so he could take a long, admiring look. While folks in LA, New York or Chicago might not be in such awe, a good looking car is a good looking car. Period.
I believe the new, more muscular look will transform the Boxter from its old reputation of “the baby Porsche” or “the woman’s Porsche” or “the Porsche you settle for when you can’t afford a 911” to a the car drivers want to own because it looks great and drives like an elite machine.