If it weren't for the all-new 2013 Porsche Boxster, we'd be perfectly happy with the "old" Boxsters from drives gone by. Those Boxsters were always talented 2-seat roadsters, especially gifted in their top-shelf "S" trim versions. But the 2013 Boxster is a fresh, new mid-engine animal that lives one rung higher up on the sports-car evolutionary chain than the Boxster it replaces. The roadster's weight is lower, its interior is quieter, and its soft top folds behind the driver in just nine seconds. Dynamically, it's better than ever at reaching around corners and tightening the lines.

If the previous Boxsters were straight razors, this new one is liquid. That's not our Stuttgart fan-boy side talking -- that's a cold, calculated conclusion. It rides easily on a slightly longer, very slightly wider platform accommodating bigger wheels -- 18-inch (base), 19-inch (Boxster S), 20-inch (optional) -- and fulfills grander handling ambitions which, naturally, can be helped along by a number of optional Porsche cornering enhancements.

Flat-6 engines rule in Porsche's sports cars, the 2013 Boxsters included. The 265-horsepower 2.7-liter six in the base Boxster was developed from the Boxster S's 3.4-liter, and hints at the full-force performance that the S rolls out. As the jewel in the Boxster crown, the 315-horsepower S engine wants for nothing and gives you life-affirming response from just off idle all the way to its 7,700-rpm redline. Both Boxster engines come standard with a 6-speed manual transmission, but the smarter choice for, well... everything, is the 7-speed PDK automatic which delivers snap-quick shifts, better fuel economy and quicker 0-60 mph times versus the manual gearbox. The highest "Huh?" Factor in the new Boxster comes from the automatic start/stop which shuts off the engine when you come to a stop and fires it up again when you lift your foot off the brake pedal. It's a fuel-economy-improvement feature, which is good, but hearing a flat-6 engine re-starting can sometimes break the magic on a quiet, top-down day.

After a half-day workout at Alabama's Barber Motorsports Park track, the effortless, authoritarian grip of the new Boxster's bigger brakes showed no signs of softening, and the new electro-mechanical steering slipped the car deftly through sweeping curves, quick esses and sharp hairpin turns. While the interior layout and exterior shape of the 2013 Porsche Boxster deserve praise -- particularly the roomy elegance of the new interior -- it's the generation-over-generation performance improvements that are most significant. The new car is deceptively easy and forgiving to drive. Its cornering talents are higher, its grip is better, and the at-the-limit melodrama that sometimes comes with the sports car territory is completely absent.

Do you want to drive a razor, or do you want to drive liquid? We've driven both, and we'll take the liquid.

The 2013 Porsche Boxster and Boxster S will show up on your dealer's doorstep in early July. The starter Boxster starts half a breath under $50,000, while the Boxster S takes off at $60,900.

 

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