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Long Beach

Joined: 01 Oct 2010
Posts: 6418

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 5:48 pm    Post subject: My Boxster 981 review Reply with quote

Spec: 2012 Boxster S, PDK, PCM, PDC, PASM, Sports chrono, full leather, elec mirrors, Um... Etc...

First impressions of the interior were good - fit and finish were excellent. Everything looked and felt very well screwed together and very well designed (thank you, Mr. Panamera). The interior of the test drive car was ‘full leather’, and very luxurious it was too. If I was buying a 981 I'd definitely spec this. I thought the interior was far more impressive than the previous Boxster. This contrasts to my previous "first impressions" at an OPC launch night, which were tainted by an ocean of cheap black plastic (mainly on the outside of the car). Speccing the exterior in black would minimise the impact of the horrible black plastics used in the side vents, front grills and other places, although if there is a body-colour option for these parts, my view would be that this is a must-have.

On the road, and with the roof up, my initial thought was that there was more tyre noise than I was expecting, and also, that the engine wasn't loud enough. I think I was expecting the Boxster to have a "991 junior" feel to it, but whereas the 991 has less tyre noise and more engine noise the Boxster felt the opposite. Not a fair comparison perhaps, but if like me you are pondering whether to go for a (used?) 991 or a new Boxster, this may be of interest. I would love to have a go with a Boxster S with PSE fitted, I think that would improve the overall experience. Despite the tyre noise with the roof up, I thought the car was still very civilised and refined.

The roof itself was very quick to both raise and lower, taking approx 9 seconds, and just with the touch of a button (no latch to engage/disengage like with the previous Boxster). As with many rag tops these days the roof can be raised and lowered on the move, and in the Boxster this can be done at up to 30mph. Buffeting is minimal with the mesh screen option between the headrests, and there was no nasty buffeting even at 70. So not only was the car very civilised with the roof up, it was also very civilised with the top down.

The whole 'civilised' theme continued in terms of the performance and handling. My test drive only lasted around 30 mins, so not really enough time to get down and dirty. I'm not sure whether the Boxster S I drove had PDCC (I don't think this is an option on the car?), but it cornered very flat, accelerated without drama, and was very stable in the twisty stuff at reasonable speeds.

I wasn't 'allowed' to test launch control due to the car being under 1,000 miles (well that's what the salesman told me, never stopped this on my 991 test drive a few months back). It would have been nice to experience the Boxster's launch control at least once, to see whether it's as impressive as the 991 S launch control, which is an excellent party piece.

The biggest surprise for me was the PDK - the surprise being that I didn't think it was as good as I have experienced in the 991. The 991 has a very clever 'box, and for instance I learned on a 991 S test drive that if you're driving at a steady speed and lightly tap the accelerator pedal you will engage the next lowest gear in the range (i.e 7th to 6th), and you can do this each time you want the next gear down, which I thought was very useful.

The Boxster PDK did not seem to operate in the same way and seemed to drop down in a random manner - sometimes from 6th it would drop to 4th and sometimes to 3rd. Not a big issue though as the car was fitted with paddle-shift (and if you don't have that you can always use the buttons). The salesman suggested it could be because the car was brand new (I was the first person to ever test drive it) and that the ECU needed some time to adjust to my driving style. Whether that is true or not I won't know until I drive another Boxster PDK…

Overall though the PDK was still excellent, it always seemed to be in the right gear and shifts were incredibly smooth as expected, although I found the coasting function a bit strange. This feature kicks in only when you are cruising at a steady speed and lift your foot of the accelerator pedal. Doing so disengages the 'box from whichever gear you are in and selects neutral thereby lowering the revs to idle. As soon as you touch the pedal again it will automatically be ready to accelerate from the right gear. I thought it was very eerie because the engine noise disappears and you are left with just tyre and wind noise - not a particular fan of that whole experience so I would probably figure out how to turn that feature off. The car also had stop-start - again - not a fan, but it's probably here to stay...

Next on to a subject that has been discussed to death - the electric steering. I thought that the steering was really very good, very accurate, and if anything, overly 'pointy'. It did however feel slightly numb and detached, however it wasn’t a deal-breaker, not in this car anyway. A 981 Boxster Spyder or RS version would be a different story perhaps. I haven't had enough time behind the wheel of a 991 to compare, but from memory it did feel a bit more accurate than the 991 steering. Neither of those cars are a patch on my 997 GT3 steering-wise though...

Overall, I liked the 981 Boxster S a lot, but not enough to trade in my GT3 for one. It's a great looking, fun little sports car, and was more go-kart like than I was expecting, especially in the bends. It was nice to look out over the bonnet and see the crease down the front of the wings, but despite the PDK being fantastic, I think the manual would probably suit the car more and look forward to trying one of those at some point in the future. I’d definitely have a 981 over a Z4 or SLK (based on looks alone!) , and that’s the most important comparison as that’s where this car’s main battle will be.

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Yas Marina

Joined: 11 Mar 2007
Posts: 8386
Location: London

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent write-up Roro thumbsup I thought it was me driving the thing as I was reading through that! I briefly drove a 991 on the Kick-plate area at Silverstone the other day and the steering felt better, ie. more alive than in my 4S.

~ Maxie Smile
Currently Porscheless, 2018 BMW 640d M Sport +
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Long Beach

Joined: 01 Oct 2010
Posts: 6418

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cheers Maxie Cool

That's very interesting to hear the comparison between the 991 S and your 997 4S. The 991 probably felt better due to the lack of weight over the front axle compared to the 4WD 4S.

I wonder then if that means that the 991 4S will have better steering that the 997 4S - being electric, I guess Porsche should be able to make the 991 4S steering feel exactly the same as the 991 2S steering.
2007 997.1 GT3
2017 F87 M2
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Location: Hertfordshire and Hampshire

PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

4 SURE - 911 Carrera 4

All wheel drive doesn't just give Porsche's newest 911 extra stability and safety - it also boosts driver involvement. Peter Robinson reports.

Your fingers convey the information the instant you turn the wheel. The steering is heavier, meatier, less sensitive. Not much, but enough of a difference to be immediately discernible to hands acquainted with the rear-drive Carrera.

The distinctions grew the longer we played with the Carrera 4 on the wonderfully demanding roads surrounding Porsche's Weissach proving ground. A bit more steering lock, a sense of mild understeer in a second-gear hairpin. Extra steering effort as increasing lateral forces amplify steering loads through a fourth-gear sweeper. A fraction less self-centring. Finally - and prepare for the ongoing arguments - a perception that this steering is actually more involving than that of the Carrera 2.
It takes no more than a couple of corners to fall in love with the C4. It's a normal 911, only better. More stable, especially at the high speeds the Carrera so quickly attains, less nervous in strong crosswinds, and even more consistent in its dynamics. At first it seems slightly less agile, because wheel movements are bigger, but experience reveals that its handling is actually more neutral, less oversteery.

Experimentation with the PSM reveals that the C4 responds to a smooth driving style and minimises the need for driver reactions, making it more relaxing to drive than the C2, not least a very high speeds on the autobahn.
All the driver understands is that the nose is less prone to pushing wide. The engine management system is set up so that if you lift off suddenly in a bend, a degree of torque is maintained to smooth out the weight transfer and reduce the car's reactions. It all makes for a supercar that is as failsafe as any, yet remains fun to drive quickly, the electronics doing their job so unobtrusive that most drivers won't even notice, unless they attack corners with arms flailing. Even then, it's effectively impossible to throw the C4 off balance, though not even the C4 can defy the laws of physics.
The choice between C2 and C4 remains as complex as ever. The C4 is undoubtedly the more talented car, exuding an invincible air that many will find irresistible.
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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

>Competitive Porsche Insurance <

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Yas Marina

Joined: 11 Mar 2007
Posts: 8386
Location: London

PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roro wrote:
That's very interesting to hear the comparison between the 991 S and your 997 4S. The 991 probably felt better due to the lack of weight over the front axle compared to the 4WD 4S.

Indeed. That's what I attributed it to - the gubbins over the front wheel drive section on my 4S to make it weightier and thus less responsive. I'd say the steering in a RWD 991 is as good (but probably not better) than a RWD 996 or 997. I decided this in the 20 mins worth of quick steering on the Kick-plate where the road was dripping wet from the rain and of course from the water jets spraying the track.

~ Maxie
Currently Porscheless, 2018 BMW 640d M Sport +
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