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BMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster S

Test Drives | July 12th, 2012 by 45
bmw-z4-vs-porsche-boxter

With the launch of an all new 2013 Porsche Boxster S, BMWBLOG figured it would be a good time to compare its natural rival: the …

With the launch of an all new 2013 Porsche Boxster S, BMWBLOG figured it would be a good time to compare its natural rival: the BMW Z4 sDrive35is. An unfair comparison you say? Both two seat German droptops can be well optioned for just under $70,000, and both rear-wheel drivers can get you from 0-60 mph in about 4.8 seconds. However, both provide a rather different driving experiences and get you there in rather different ways via divergent philosophies.

BMW kept the faithful hoping an M model would come out in this the second generation of the E89 Z4. After all, BMW had given us an M-version in its previous two roadsters – a Z3 M and an E85 Z4 M with the fantastic screaming S54 motor from the E46 M3. I saw an E85 Z4 M just the other day and they still look fantastic. They were also quicker than the Boxsters of its day. Plus the BMW had a Limited Slip Differential (LSD) where as the Porsche car didn’t. Alas no M Z4 was to come. However, in 2011 BMW chose to give us a souped-up hot rod Z4 sDrive35is with a tweaked N54 twin-turbo motor with a new over-boost torque feature and no LSD but lots of electronic handling aids.

BMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster S
BMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster S

The original Boxsters were much maligned in the automotive press and never the sales success Porsche wanted, even with a technically superior mid-engine layout. Sabine Schmidt, a Nurburgring phenom, racer of both BMWs and Porsches dismissively calls the old Boxster a “housewife’s car.”

BMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster S

In fact it wasn’t until 2011 with the stripped down track oriented Boxster Spyder that the press outside of dedicated Porsche magazines gave it much positive press. This though, has all changed with the third generation and all-new 2013 Boxster which sports Porsche’s internal code 981. In person, as in photos, it looks absolutely stunning. The automotive critics are all aglow in their reviews of it and after driving it I agree. Even Chris Harris declares the 2013 Boxster S a “proper sports car,” and “Porsche has finally built a Boxster that a man could buy” and “I don’t feel self conscious driving it.”

Power:

BMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster S

Here we see a major divergence in philosophy between Porsche and BMW. Both are Direct Fuel Injected motors, however now BMW has chosen to put a turbo on nearly everything. The last naturally aspirated engine BMW sells now is the V8 in the E92 M3. When this M3 is retired in 2013, the high-revving naturally-aspirated motor and the core founding philosophy of BMW M will be sadly gone. The BMW power unit maintains a high output – 332 lb-ft from 1,500 rpm to 4,500 rpm. Maximum output of 335 hp is delivered at 5,900 rpm.

Porsche, though, offers a high-revving naturally-aspirated engine in the Boxster but turbo charges their top of the line models. When looking at total output of the the two motors, BMW wins here because it brings 100 more ft/lbs of torque to the fight. The Porsche does get a nod though for engine place being in the middle of the Boxster instead of the “wrong end” like a 911.

Winner: BMW

Transmission:

Porsche offers a 6-speed manual standard, and their PDK double clutch is a $3,200 option. The BMW Z4 sDrive35is comes in one transmission only – the DCT. Both offer paddle mounted shifters and having driven both the DCT and the PDK, I actually prefer the paddles on the Porsche. However, both work well and are intuitively placed. The ability to use three pedals to shift yourself, even though slower, is more involving and you save $3,200, so it tips this round in favor of the Porsche.

Winner: Porsche

Cost:

BMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster S

Base price for the Z4 sDrive35is is $64,200 and the one I drove had a MSRP around $68,000. The base price of the 2013 Boxster S is surprisingly less at $60,900. Granted the Porsche doesn’t come standard with the double clutch gearbox and if you add $3,200 to get it, the cost differential nearly evaporates. However, if you start to go crazy with the options on the Porsche, the price can shoot up easily into 911 territory. Just out of curiosity I started clicking every option available on the 2013 Porsche’s Boxster S’ configurator and jacked the price up to $103,535 before I got bored and quit. Nuts huh? Tie if you can control yourself on the options list for Porsche or BMW is the winner if you cant.

Tie: BMW / BMW

Racing:

BMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster S

The 2013 Boxster is so new, there aren’t any racing versions of it. If you ever go to a Porsche Club or other amateur race, you’ll find that quite a few Boxsters are out on track, way more than Z4s raced at amateur racing in the US. There’s a but here for BMW. Munich has factory Z4 GT3 race cars in Europe, and they look damn and I mean damn good. Much better than any Boxster race car I’ve ever seen. They are available for purchase but there’s a downside though, they cost $340,000 Euros +VAT. The Z4 GT3 makes up for it with a 4.4 liter V8 with a 9,000 red line and pumps out 515 bhp with a weight just over 2,600 lbs. I would add that the Z4 GT3 has very little in common with its street version counterpart. Winner? There is none, these have nothing to do with the street versions. Racing is just cool.

Looks:

BMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster S

I think both the Z4 and the new Boxster are fantastic looking, and project a low slung wide road hugging appearance. Both look good with top up or down. The BMW gives you a long front engine bay, almost like an old Jaguar or a Viper. Or maybe even a Z8! Driving the Z4 made me think auto-crossing might be tough because it was hard to see the very leading edge of the car you sit so far back. Not so with the Porsche, I thought the view right down to the pavement was ideal for viewing a tight autocross course. Both test cars had some really sweet looking 19” wheels too. Looking at the Z4 sDrive35is options, made me wonder why BMW has chosen to make the 18” Star Spoke Style 295 standard because the 19s look so much better.

BMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster S

BMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster SBMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster SBMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster S

The Z4 sDrive35is I drove had the optional 19” 5 Double Spoke Style 326M wheels, they look a lot like the killer wheels on the new F10 M5.

On to the Boxster, I feel that the proportions just look right. Finally the Porsche Boxster has unique sheet metal and is not forced to share with the 911. Some even think it has elements of the new 918 Spyder. The front-end has wicked cool stacked race inspired headlights as well as large air scoops with radiators behind them. The doors have a sculpted look and actually function to help force air into the large intakes for the motor just in front of the rear wheels force feeding the 9A1 flat six motor.

BMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster S

BMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster SBMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster SBMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster S

LED brake lights wrap around the rear quarter panel and some how seamlessly taper into the back and as well as where a speed sensitive spoiler lives. This rear spoiler deploys to decrease lift at highway speeds or by a button on the console. Porsche even has a center light tucked into the bottom edge of the spoiler. The Boxster S’s wheels also look outstanding. I’ll call this category a tie, though confess that styling and looks is totally subjective.

Tie: BMW / Porsche

Speed:

Despite BMW’s insane power and torque advantage with a 1 Series M engine stuffed under the hood, there is a virtual tie here. Both do 0 – 60 in an identical 4.8. The BMW erases its power advantage with pork. The Z4 weighs over 600 lbs more than the Porsche. I really had no, and I mean no idea the Z4 sDrive35is weighed over 3,500lbs. BMW is the master at dynamically hiding their pork until you get it on a scale. I’ll call this one a tie, but if the Z4 could go on a diet, it’d win. Top speed the Porsche is greater but its really an academic number because I don’t suspect anyone in the U.S. will get close to its top speed on either one.

Tie: BMW / Porsche
BMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster SBMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster S

Tie: BMW / Porsche

Steering:

Porsche has electric steering. BMW has electric steering. It appears unfortunate but true that electric steering is here to stay, even from two of the best auto companies in Germany. Electric steering is more efficient and thus yields a marginally better MPG. One just looses the fine nuances in the road, bump steer and it just feels filtered to me. They both loose here.

Top:

BMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster SBMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster S

The Porsche’s top is cloth takes just 9 seconds to stow and for the first time is done solely with at the toggle of a button on the console – finally no latches to jack with. Remarkably with the Porsche, you can stow the top at speeds up to 30mph. What I wanted to do, but managed to suppress on my test drive was start the mechanism of dropping the top then hammer the throttle. With the Z4 you get a folding hardtop that takes a little longer at 20 seconds during which you must remain motionless. This can occasionally be an an issue if a stop light changes on you unexpectedly as happened on my test drive. BMW’s hardtop does give a very elegant look to the car and really seals the cabin from road and noise with the top up.

There is also more than 40% more glass to see out of than previous generation Z4 and way more (scientific term) viewing area than the Porsche. BMW has with the Z4 sDrive35is perhaps their best factory standard exhaust. With the top down, it’s down right intoxicating and I confess was an unexpected treat. The Porsche’s is pretty good but with the top down what you notice more is the high revving motor ripping, not the exhaust. Winner here: Z4.

Winner: BMW

Handling:

This category was the biggest disappointment to me for the BMW. The Bavarians have always been the car company of more chassis than motor, but not so with this Z4 sDrive35is. It’s not bad until you push the car and I suspect those who buy the Z4 wont drive it on a track or even near the limit. If they don’t, it probably wont be a disappointment to them, but it was to me. Watch the video below and you’ll see I am not alone in my assessment of it.

The BMW to me just seems suited for cruises around town and for the blast up the drive of the country club not the track. Car and Driver put a 2012 Z4 sDrive35is on their Lightning Lap 2012 at Virginia International Raceway. To me, VIR is one of the best racetracks in the country and absolute blast to drive – elevation changes, blind corners, and multiple configurations. It’s like being at a country club or expensive golf course but its for us track addicts. They even have great track food. Anyway here’s Car and Driver’s lap in the 2012 Z4 sDrive35is.

They drove the car to the limit and though my test drive was limited to public roads for both, theirs show what I felt by the seat of the pants in the Z4. I didn’t experience problems with the DCT where it wouldn’t shift while under load like they did but again I didn’t drive like that on public roads either.

The handling category is where the 2013 Boxster S absolutely crushes the BMW. This Porsche just loves to be pushed hard. It has a slightly rear weight balance and it likes to be chucked (pun intended!) into a corner. Maybe a better way of describing it is to come hot into a corner, nail the brakes, scrub off speed, get the car turned in a late apex manner and then you can get on the gas earlier than you think you should.

Here a Z4 would just plow off course going wide in understeer, but the Porsche loads up the wide rears and starts to explode out of the corner on throttle. A little like a 911 would but maybe not as dramatic. In theory with a Porsche it should be slow in fast out, but with the 600 lbs less to turn than the the Z4, it could just scrub off speed fast. Porsche added 1.6 inches to the front track with their new Boxster and 0.7 in the rear and the thing just dares you to push it hard and harder into a corner.

BMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster S

Both German convertibles share an interesting adjustable suspension. Each has three modes. BMW has Comfort/Sport and Sport + Modes and the Porsche has Normal, Sport and Sport Plus. I have our own Hugo Becker trying to figure out if this is the same adjustable shock system on both cars though I am sure both have differing dampening rates. Will report back if we can confirm my suspicion.

Winner: Porsche

Corporate Power:

I won’t rehash what we all know about BMW being an independent company, but this gives BMW the ability to develop unique products with a single focus on providing the “Ultimate Driving Machine.” It leaves BMW very flexible to make what they want, where they want. Where BMW looses on this is perhaps cost savings on shared parts. For Porsche, however, Volkswagen officially completes its takeover of them August 1st. Even before the takeover, Volkswagen had appointed Matthias Müller as Porsche CEO in 2010.

Mr. Müller is a former career VW and Audi executive. Is this a big deal? Maybe, maybe not. But ask yourself, would you rather have a Porsche built at the Leipzig or Stuttgart Porsche factories, or one built at Volkswagen’s Karmann plant in Osnabrück, Germany where the new 2013 Boxster will share the assembly line with VW Golf convertibles? In corporate power, BMW has the edge over Porsche now.

Winner: BMW

Tech:

BMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster S

Here BMW finally cleans Porsches clock. Though the Z4 sDriver35is I drove didn’t have an iDrive, I’ve used it quite a bit in other BMWs in its most current version. This latest generation of iDrive is a perfect combination of an easy to use interface with a great display. iDrive has a very intuitive dial that gives good tactile feed back, buttons to help you return you if you get lost, pairing Bluetooth, even streaming Bluetooth is all straight forward. The only “dislike” is that you have to USB connect your iPhone to the car to get BMW Apps to work and you still have to jack with the phone to get some of the apps to work so it’s not really plug and forget.

Porsche has come a long long way in the tech world and the influences of the Porsche Panamera are obvious across all their newer designed cars and much welcomed, but Porsche’s still isn’t as easy to use as the BMW iDrive. The little knobs they expect you to use are low and get lost a sea of buttons. Selecting letters even seems backwards. Keep in mind that it wasn’t until 2009 that a Porsche 911 got Bluetooth and you get the idea tech has never been their strong suit. The only thing Porsche has over BMW is the ability to add navigation or other configurable info into dashboard to the right of the tach. Pretty cool. Winner here BMW.

Winner: BMW

Verdict:

BMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster S

I know that BMWBLOG is a BMW-focused website, but in this case I have to call the comparo in favor of the 2013 Boxster S. BMW wins more categories but it does so off of its corporate strengths, not car dynamics or fun factor. Porsche offers a six speed manual, weighs 600 lbs less and offers a real Limited Slip Differential.  Plus I love that Porsche is still manufacturing hi-revving naturally aspirated motors.

Its 3.4 liter flat six is a high revving crisp 315 hp gem all the way to the redline and works well with the Boxster S’ predictable handling at the limits.  I do have to commend BMW for putting a great performance package together for the Z4 with beefier brake discs and calipers, and of course with that awesome engine now used in the 1 Series M Coupe.

Unfortunately, the Z4 is just not really at home when it’s put on the track or pushed hard. The Z4 has way more engine than chassis really, and that’s unusual for BMW. Plus the Z4 even weighs more that the hallowed BMW Z8 which is a full 5 inches longer and is powered by the insane M-Powered V8.

However, one of my colleagues here at BMWBLOG upon learning of my comparo, said “I assume the Boxster will dominate…but I’d still take the BMW.”

Flame Suit on.

BMWBLOG Test Drive: 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is vs. 2013 Porsche Boxster S

[Photos: BMW  and Porsche]

  • Doug

    Fantastic review Chuck!! And congrats guys for not being biased.

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  • David Charles

    Chuck, loved it. Very cool.

    So a Porsche wins on bmw blog? :) I have to concur, Boxter S is a great car.

  • Giom

    Very interesting article! I’ve not seen the Porsche in person yet, but I do like the look very much. Not as much as the Z4 though. This Z4 is a special design – fantastic proportions.

    • http://www.bmwblog.com Horatiu B.

      :) it proves again we’re not a biased publication but rather a professional one.

      • fredyschiftan@aol.com

        very true your Blog is very true and says the truth , that is why it is the best Blog.

  • JRobUSC

    I voted with my wallet and got a Z4 35is (Deep Sea Blue with Ivory White Nappa Leather package, 19″ wheels, all options), and I went in fully understanding it was heavier and not as good of a track toy as a Boxster. Why did I get it then? A) Because I don’t track my car, and B) because it looks… so… good. That sounds snobby but I don’t care. $70k+ roadsters are passion cars, and I love love love the looks of this car. And so do other people — I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve pulled into a parking lot or been stopped at a red light and people out of the blue have stopped to tell me how nice the car is. I would estimate it happens at least two or three times a week though, and I even had a couple of people unfamiliar with the car ask me “how much was it? $100k?” They assumed it was an SL-class car (the full white leather/suede helps). Dress it up right and the Z4 35is easily passes for a much more expensive car than it is (and it’s already expensive).

    To me this car is about as close to automotive sculpture as I’ll ever be able to afford without winning the lottery (in which case I’d get an Aston Martin). A Boxster looks good too, but frankly to the majority of people on the street, a Porsche is a Porsche is a Porsche. It doesn’t stand out, it doesn’t look… special. The Z5 35is does, though, top up or down (I actually think it’s even better looking with the top up, where it really does have some Aston to it). It’s plenty quick, has all the toys, sounds tremendous with everything in Sport mode, and it handles better than I need it to. It might lose to a Boxster on a racetrack, but on the roads of reality where most people spend most their time (and I spend all of mine), the Z4 35i beats the Boxster handily.

    • http://www.bmwblog.com Horatiu B.

      You’re right on many points and I guess that’s why designed say “cars are emotional”

      It’s also absolutely true that there are different types of buyers, some care about looks, other about gadgetry while some about driving experience.
      In case of these 2 cars, very tough choice and I’m glad I don’t have to make that choice :)

    • Joe

      I totally agree with you. I own 2011 Z4 s35i and I can confidently say the car turn heads. I wish I could express it much better. How many times in a week did I not hear the words: that is a nice car…………I like your car……..what do you do?

      • Al Yafei

        Guys, why do you want to drive a front engine car in the same way as a mid engine car? no way.. do you think that a big company like BMW doesn’t know how to make its car handle better on the racetrack? even F1 cars are different in handling from each other. by the way BMW used to have an F1 Team. one more thing, No one talked about the weight of the Z4 hardtop!! you have to pay something to get what you want of a solid, secure, quite and good looking top. the Boxster is hugely amazing but don’t try that kids game “my team is stronger than your team”.. Hello.. wake up :) both cars are fantastic just choose what gives you the full feeling based on your budget.

    • Figaro

      I want to address couple of comments of JRobUSC. 1. He said “I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve pulled into a parking lot or
      been stopped at a red light and people out of the blue have stopped to
      tell me how nice the car is”. I don’t doubt it but do you think that is any different for Boxster owners? I can assure you that it is not! 2. He said “It might lose to a Boxster on a racetrack, but on the roads of reality
      where most people spend most their time the
      Z4 35i beats the Boxster handily. What? Based on what? I understand his loyalty but empty statements with nothing backing them up are just that, empty.

  • BMW Defeated

    One must be an absolute idiot to compare Porsche with mediocre BMW. The weakest Porsche will easily blow doors off the fastest BMW. BMW doesn’t even come lose to Audi, let alone Porsche. That’s the bitter truth.

    • fredyschiftan@aol.com

      You mean VW Porsche that is the new name for this co, now that VW bought the whole Co. VW will really toy around it, good bye to the old Porsche, and dont want to think how they will destroy this Co. very sad !!! and hey when BMW built the z3 then z4 it was not to compare with the Cayman. you cant compare front engine with a middle engine ! sorry still for me this is not a comparison .

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Ray/1456578312 Michael Ray

        You mean like they destroyed Bugatti and Lamborghini???

        • AlexRossbach

          Bugatti has one model and hemorrhages money and Lamborghini was doing well but is now going to be watered down with the introduction of the Urus SUV and the parts-bin sharing with Audi for that model will hurt them in the long run. So yes they are destroying Bugatti and Lamborghini and they will water down Porsche. Think GM during the SUV craze with their Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon.

    • VW,AUDI,MERC Defeated

      This VW/Audi fella seem like don’t want to accept truth so leave him alone to continue fool himself around.

    • Brian1

      Have you driven an Audi vs. a BMW? If u did you’d eat your words. I agree the new Boxster is very pretty and handles better than the Z4 on the track, but looks and power go to the Z4. You can easily tune the BMW for $750 and have 400 HP. Looks of the Z4 are much more unusual. A Porsche looks like a Porsche, ….Also very common vs. the Z4. Both r great cars, but I prefer the hardtop despite the added weight. I just sold my Boxster for a Z4 and EVERYONE says the Z4 is much nicer looking. With optons the Boxster S is just too expensive. The Z4S3.5i is a much better value than the 3.5is. The $ premium is too expesive for the few extra ponies that a $750 Cobb tune will out power by far. Spend the $s on the M package instead. Boxsters are not track cars so it’s a waste if that’s why anyone would buy one. The Cayman is the track car. On the street give me a tuned Z4. Awesome looks and power. Also in the price comparison don’t forget the Z4 comes w/ 4 years maintenance! The Z4 just is sexier and more powerfull with those twin turbos tuned. Also 19″ wheels on the Boxster S just aren’t good on American roads. Too much tire and wheel damage possibility. I got mine with tne 18’s. Ditched the runflats, a BMW big goof in the US. Michelin Super Sports handle much better. In the comparisons on the track they use the OEM crappy handing runflats. That’s an unfair comparison. Like a race between a barefoot runner and one with running shoes!

  • http://twitter.com/uhn2000 BigK

    Let me say this without sounding like a BMW basher – Porsche is just getting it right in every way. Having owned 5 BMWs up to this point we replaced both my sports car and SUV with Porsche product. The driving engagement and finish of their cars is just so incredible its no wonder they are so dang expensive. I will admit 2 things – first, I have never owned or driven a better 4 door sedan then the 530(04-6sp) or my M5 (08); second, I could never not own a Porsche product. BMW has gone all turbo and mercedes on us,

    The Z4 is good but this Boxster is great, not only stunning in person but eats it alive in driving experience, Sorry but BMWs are no longer the true driver brand, Porsche has taken that spot.

    • BMW BEST

      Doesn’t matter,BMW still more luxurious and comfortable than Porsche.

    • cs4444

      Hasn’t Porsche always made sports cars? That is their specialty. BMW makes sports sedans. ” BMW has gone all turbo and Mercedes on us,” correct me if I’m wrong but why would you hold that against BMW when you car comparing it to Porsche who relies on turbos for their there top models? Yes Porsche products are very nice, but you also have to pay a large Premium for it. The F10 M5 is faster than the Panamera Turbo around the ring, and costs tens of thousands less!

      • G

        The Panamera Turbo S is the fastest around the ring. Plus when the turbo ran its time it had a passenger whereas the M5 didnt. Also, if you look at the other track times, the turbo S beats the M5. Yes, the M5 is cheaper but its build quality isnt on nearly the same level. Porsche flat out makes better cars. The Boxster S makes a mockery of the Z4 in every way…performance, handling, quality, looks, etc. I used to own one as well but the Boxster S is on another level. Same goes for all Porsche products.

      • Spyder2011

        Because it’s a Porsche. I believe part of the money when u buy a Porsche it’s because of the brand and I think Porsche is a more premium brand compare to bmw. Why don’t u compare a Nissan or even Infinity with bmw. I will choose a bmw or Porsche over the Nissan GTR or the G37 any day. The GTR beat many Ferraris too. Most people buy what they can afford.

  • BMW BEST

    OMG both of them look f**king nice!!!!!
    But as always I’d go for BMW because the line on Z4 is much more unique and muscular but,this Boxter is the most beautiful Boxter I’ve ever seen!

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  • asd

    Nice review and although I think Z4 is some of the best looking cars ever I’d still take Porsche. I am BMW driver and therefore all for driving experience and Z4 doesn’t offer that like the boxter does. The last Z4 did, this one seems to be more of a poser car.
    I am hoping BMW will redeem itself with the new 2 series coupe and convertible. All I want is 6-speed manual, 135-160kw diesel engine and rwd!

  • Arthur Potts

    Wow, I don’t know what automotive press you were reading with regard to the release of the original Boxster. I have the actual magazines from Automobile, R&T, C&D, etc., that had EXTREMELY high praise for the original Boxster. The subsequent multiple Top 10 magazine awards clearly suggests that the Boxster has been an exceptionally good car from the beginning.

    I am a fan of this website and own a BMW, but your introduction to this piece couldn’t be more wrong.

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  • TigerKC

    Another great post Chuck! Thanks for your fact based, pragmatic, unbiased, side-by-side. Keep the info flowing. Cheers!

  • Steve

    There is one error in your review though. I have a 2011 Z4 30i. You can put the top up/down up to a maximum speed of 30km/h. You don’t have to be stopped.

  • Figaro

    I have to take issue with parts of your review. You left out
    a few important comparisons:

    The Boxster has more interior space.
    The Boxster has more trunk space.
    The Boxster has more fuel capacity.
    The Boxster gets better gas mileage.
    The Boxster offers a manual 6 speed. No Manual transmission? Deal Killer!!!

    You note that the Boxster is better “on the track”. I would
    submit it is also better on the road!
    You call the engine a tie because they perform the same, yet
    the BMW engine is much bigger.
    You say Boxster has been “maligned” by the
    automotive press? Where? Just the opposite!
    Finally you compare “corporate power”. What exactly does
    that have to do with a comparison of these two vehicles?

    Here’s the bottom line as I see it. If you prefer the styling
    of the BMW or the sound of the engine, fine that’s your car. Those are personal
    preferences that can’t be measured and opinions will vary. However, It’s difficult to see how the BMW comes out on top of any measurable category.

    • Shamrock1889

      To counter,
      “The Boxster has more interior space”
      When I test drove both I found the Boxster to be more snug.
      “The Boxster has more trunk space”
      With the top up the Z4 has marginally more space plus an optional passthru for long items.
      “The Boxster has more fuel capacity”
      I don’t think this to be an issue for a weekend car that might need to stop at the gas station a few more times a year. Just another useless statistic in my books.
      “The Boxster gets better gas mileage”
      Don’t be fooled by foolish EPA mileage. In the real world the Z4 has gobs more torque down low, so unless you feather the throttle on the Porsche (then you should have just bought a miata) daily driving will generate similar fuel usage.

      There is no question the Boxster is the better track car, but anything below 8/10ths (where most people drive 99% of the time) the Z4 feels like the faster car.

      The Boxster has the significantly bigger engine!?!

      The Boxster was maligned for being a ‘chicks car’ or ‘can’t afford a 911′ car for years. I think this generation finally dispels any of that nonsense now.

      The thing about these cars are they are completely emotional impractical purchases. The BMW doesn’t need to come out on top of any measurable category, although price, tunability, uniqueness, maintenance (or any ability to do any on your own without a lift) come to mind. Just remember there are different people with different priorities and lets be glad there are at least two good options for them here.

      And for the record, if I could somehow not go crazy with the options list, the Boxster would be my choice.

      • http://www.bmwblog.com Horatiu B.

        I tend to agree that this will be an emotional purchase. I, personally, would have a hard time choosing between them. I like some things on the BMW while I love others on the Porsche!

  • Figaro

    You get credit for trying to be unbiased but bias is tough
    to overcome. Example: You deem SPEED a
    tie even though the Porsche top speed is greater because “Both do 0 – 60 in an
    identical 4.8”. Well not if you compare apples to apples, PDK to DCT. The
    Porsche Wins the 0 – 60!

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  • joein jarrettsville

    I have owned a bunch of BMWs and my Z4 is my all time favorite

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  • Jeff

    Just traded my 2011 Z4 35i, DCT, for the 2013 Boxster S, PDK. I loved my Z4, second one I have owned, but I have to admit the Boxster is a different animal. The driving dynamic difference’s are very noticable. I drove a 911 “S” also, but settled on the Boxster. The bottom line is both the Z4 and Boxster are great cars, but the Boxster puts a bigger smile on my face on the backroads. Still own a 535i, which we love.

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