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Quick, stylish, and inimitably Porsche, the Boxster is the brand's two-seat sports roadster. Built to be fun and flexible, but not quite a threat to the legendary 911, the Boxster hits a sweet spot of performance, price, and practicality.
The Boxster made its debut in 1996, and was immediately recognized for its excellent handling. Critics did take issue with the cabin noise, however, as the soft top and minimal sound insulation let the noise of the road, the wind, and the horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine in at every opportunity. At its introduction, the base Boxster displaced 2.5 liters. A more powerful version, the Boxster S, came along in 2000, bringing with it a 3.2-liter engine. Also in 2000, the base Boxster's engine was upgraded to a 2.7-liter unit.
The second generation of the Boxster arrived in 2005, sporting a 240-horsepower, 2.7-liter engine that was upgraded to 245 hp in 2007. The second-generation Boxster S started with a 3.2-liter engine, moving up to a 3.4-liter engine rated at 295 horsepower in 2007. Over this generation's six-year run, a number of special editions were released, the most notable being the Boxster Spyder. Rated at a stout 320 horsepower and doing away with the retractable soft top (as well as other lightening measures) to produce a hardcore, track-bred variant.
For the 2013 model year, the third generation of the Boxster brought a new 2.7-liter engine with direct injection rated at 265 horsepower, and a 3.4-liter engine for the Boxster S rated at 315 horsepower. A new chassis made largely of aluminum makes the latest Boxster both lighter and more rigid than its predecessors, while the unique and fresh styling sets it apart more than earlier, derivative Boxster designs managed. Inside, the third-generation Boxster is also far more refined and luxurious, and though it retains the power-retractable soft top, it is no longer as noisy as it once was.
The combined result of these upgrades have made the 2013 Boxster the most capable, comfortable, and well-equipped yet. Whether on a canyon road, a race track, or a rainy morning commute, the latest Boxster instills confidence through its technical competence. For all of these reasons and more, it is the recipient of Motor Authority's Best Car To Buy 2013 award.
The Boxster has a hardtop coupe companion, though it's known under a different name. The Cayman has paralleled the Boxster in its second generation and now in its third, though it doesn't arrive until the 2014 model year in the U.S.
For more information, including pricing with options, see The Car Connection's full review of the 2013 Porsche Boxster.