Porsche has been conservative over the years with changes to its models. Not anymore. Porsche has gone bolder than usual with upgrades to its Boxster.

The new-generation 2013 drop-top two-seater has a totally new lightweight body that sits on a completely re-engineered chassis, and is propelled by a more potent and efficient powertrain.

The revamped mid-engine roadster is available in two models, the base Boxster with a $49,500 starting price and the Boxster S with a $60,900 price tag. Both flaunt a fresh-look, aerodynamic exterior with deep side scoops and more-expressive rear-end design, and are powered by signature flat-six "boxer" engines. A key difference between the models is engine output.

Motivating the entry-level Boxster is a 2.7-liter that produces 265 horsepower at 6,700 rpm and 206 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,400 to 6,500 rpm. The Boxster S ups the ante with a 3.4-liter that cranks out 315 horsepower at 6,700 rpm and 266 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,500 to 5,800 rpm.

Both engines can be partnered with a six-speed manual or seven-speed PDK automatic transmission. The redesigned seven-speed PDK transmission (a $3,200 option) provides gear changes without interruption to the power flow for quicker sprints and improved fuel efficiency.

The base Boxster's estimated fuel economy is 20 miles per gallon city and 30 mpg highway with the manual transmission and 22/32 mpg with the automatic. The Boxster S has an estimated fuel economy of 20/28 mpg with the manual and 21/30 mpg with the automatic.

Zero-to-60-mph time for the Boxster is 5.5 seconds and its top speed is 164 mph. The Boxster S blasts from 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds and achieves a top speed of 173 mph.

The Boxster rolls on staggered-sized 18-inch alloy wheels and the Boxster S is fitted with staggered-sized 19-inch alloys. These are wrapped with performance summer tires.

Ride quality and performance can be altered with a push of a SPORT button. Sport mode complements a sporty driving style, creating a more-rigid engine-to-body connection. For those wanting to put the Boxster through its paces on a racetrack, Sport Plus mode optimizes the engine-to-body setup> Sport Plus also changes the optional Porsche Active Suspension Management ($1,790), which actively adjust shock absorbers, to a non-automatic setting. Another performance-boosting feature, available in conjunction with PASM, is Porsche Torque Vectoring ($1,320), which improves the vehicle's cornering dynamics.

Piloting the 2013 Boxster is an improved experience via a redesigned interior which, like the exterior, maintains traditional Porsche-ness, but does it with a more-sophisticated look and feel. Gauges are easy to read and controls are more user friendly.

Adding practicality are surprisingly large front and rear storage wells that can make daily tasks -- such as toting a sizable quantity of grocery bags -- more convenient.

Also boosting convenience is an improved convertible soft top. The elegant, elongated top is better insulated and can be raised or lowered in less than 10 seconds.

The new-generation Boxster has the style and performance expected of a sports car wearing a Porsche badge, but delivers on these pluses with all-around better execution.



VEHICLE TYPE__________________2-passenger RWD roadster

BASE PRICE____________________ $49,500 (as tested: $50,450)

MOTOR TYPE___________________ flat-six boxer w/DFI

DISPLACEMENT_________________ 2.7-liter

HORSEPOWER (net)______________ 265 at 6700 rpm

TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_________________ 207 at 4400-6500 rpm

TRANSMISSION_________________ 6-speed manual

OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 172.2 in.

TURNING CIRCLE (curb-to-curb)___ 36.0 ft.

CURB WEIGHT__________________ 2,888 lbs.

FUEL CAPACITY_________________ 16.9 gal.

EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 20 mpg city, 30 mpg highway