The Truth About Cars » Boxster The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:25:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Boxster Porsche Developing Ferrari-Hunter With 600HP Flat-Eight Wed, 09 Jul 2014 10:00:16 +0000 Porsche-988-rumors

Feeling outgunned by the Ferrari V8 family, Porsche is working on a suitable hunter that will be armed not with its long-standing flat-six, but with a new flat-eight.

Autocar reports the new vehicle — dubbed the 988 within Stuttgart — is part of a new quartet of Porsches in development, including a turbo-four version of the Boxster and Cayman, and an all-new 911. The 988 is expected to arrive in 2017, and may likely take after the 918 in looks with a long rear deck covering the mid-mounted flat-eight; all four new models will be in place by 2019.

Powering the quartet is a new family of boxers, ranging from the aforementioned 2-liter turbo-four — capable of 280 horsepower — to the 988′s 4-liter quad-turbo-eight, delivering 600 horses and ~400 lb-ft of 458 Italia-killing torque in testing.

Underpinning the quartets will be an all-new architecture that will use different backsides depending on the position of the boxer, shared front structures, and three front axles with optional hybrid/electric AWD such as the system powering the 918.

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Avoidable Contact: Cayenne won’t help ya, Cayenne won’t do you no good. Wed, 27 Nov 2013 14:30:28 +0000 porsche4

“When,” I asked her, “did you realize that you, were, well, you know, an actual prostitute?”

“Well,” she said, rubbing her cigarette out in the waffle-patterned wrought-iron table, shielding her eyes against the sun as it set in the distance, “I’d been dancing for a while, and there was kind of a grey area there, you’d date a guy and he’d toss you some money to stay home from the club some nights, and then I started being less picky about the guys I’d let cash me out, if a guy was decent-looking he didn’t have to necessarily be my boyfriend. And then I had a friend who did a few parties from time to time, bachelor parties and stuff, and I went with her, and it was good money. And you get used to the idea that you can make five hundred or a thousand bucks really easy. So I stopped dancing because that was getting in the way of my ability to do parties.”


And, I started taking calls to hotels in Beverly Hills. And one night I was on my way back from one of those and a guy in a nice car pulled up and offered me three hundred bucks for a quick date. It was bonus money, so I took it. Well, I went back to that street on a night when I wasn’t going to a hotel.” She frowns and looks down at the table for a moment before continuing. “So I’m out on the street, and I’m talking to a guy, and all of a sudden there’s a cop car there and they’re cuffing me, and I’m asking what’s going on, and they say I was soliciting, and I asked what they meant, and they said streetwalking, and I’m all, like, you have me confused with somebody else, I’m not a whore, I’m not a hooker, you know?”

Her hands flutter and she takes a sip of her soda, then she looks me square in the eye, level, expressionless. “Except, it turns out that I was.”

With the introduction of the Audi Q5-based Macan, the Porsche lineup for most of the world now looks like this:

  • An ugly RWD prestige sedan
  • A big SUV
  • A smaller SUV, still not cheap
  • A mid-engined, low-fuel-consumption supercar without a supercar badge
  • Two sporting cars that are basically the same vehicle once you get past the firewall

If that looks familiar, it’s because it was Toyota’s showroom lineup for 1987, minus the cars that anybody actually bought. Those of you who were alive and interested in automobiles back then might recall that Toyota never bothered to claim that it was primarily a manufacturer of sporting equipment in 1987, despite being actively involved in everything from IMSA to the BTCC, racing heads-up against other manufacturers in a number of highly competitive and tech-intensive series. Nope, Toyota never pretended to be anything other than a full-line automaker that happened to build a couple of sports cars — in this case, the Celica and Celica Supra. (Full disclosure: I’m probably biased because I won a race in a 1987 Supra but have yet to win anything besides a regional autocross behind the wheel of a Porsche.)

Porsche is now a manufacturer with three separate and distinct platforms for sedans and SUVs and just one for mass-market sports cars and GTs. If the Cayenne amounted to turning a few tricks on the side so the rear-engine “kids” didn’t starve, and the Panamera was the equivalent of doing call-girl work for a wealthy clientele, the Macan’s arrival should shatter the rest of the illusions. Stuttgart has its ass out in a thong now, strolling down Hunts Point with the rest of the big-booty SUV whores. It’s a crowded street. Everybody from Chevrolet to Infiniti has a $50,000 RX350 fighter for sale. This is the land of Toyotathons and Red Tag Sales and 580 beacon scores and deferred maintenance and upended Dairy Queen sundaes fermenting slowly under the rear seats while the kids play aimless adult-operated soccer games without official scoring.

On that street, Porsche is like that one blonde white girl with the great figure and the good teeth and the icy demeanor and a slightly less trashy outfit, holding her nose up in the air and pretending not to notice the catcalls from the Monte Carlos. In other words, she’s like my California gal pal. But it’s just an act. You don’t go on the ho stroll because you are honestly choosy about how you make your money. If you’re copping an attitude out there, it’s just because you’re going to charge a little more than the rest of the girls. It ain’t because you won’t be flatbacking by the end of the evening. Honey, it doesn’t matter what you think, and it doesn’t matter what you say; once you step out onto the street, you’re no better than anybody else.

This is the point where Porsche’s loyal fanbase begins sputtering in indignation. “But, but… Porsche builds those horrible trucks so they can keep making the cars that they really, secretly want to build! The cars that we love!” Yup, and the girl giving you a lap dance is just paying her way through engineering school, and the white powder around her left nostril is just makeup. I suppose that it might have been forgivable to buy that line twelve years ago when the Cayenne came out, because it was followed by the Cayman and the 996 GT3 and a couple of other cars that might not have made it to these shores had the company been pinching every penny.

Fast-forward to the present day, and it’s obvious that the Cayenne didn’t preserve sporting Porsches — it infected them. The 991 and 981 are bloated boats with monstrous center consoles and stratospheric pricing. If the trucks are subsidizing the cars, it isn’t obvious from the window stickers. The arrival of the 991 GT3, with its mandatory PDK, is a monstrous middle finger to the Panorama crowd, and Porsche’s avowal that it can’t afford to do a small two-seater below the Boxster even as it rolls out a small five-seater below the Cayenne amounts to a solid stream of disdainful urine into the face of anybody credulous enough to think that Porsche got into the truck game to preserve the purity of its fabled Nine Eleven. I’ve said it before, but we Porschephiles are almost like battered spouses in our eagerness to ascribe the best possible motives to our abuser despite all the evidence to the contrary:

“Honey, are you going to take the money I made for you and fix those engines that keep blowing up?”

“Hell no, bitch, I’m going to build a monstrous factory in Leipzig with that cash.”

“But you’ll use the money you make selling trucks with our cherished badge on it to make better sports cars, right?”

“You must be the dumbest woman alive. I already said I was going to spend the profits on making luxury sedans.”

“But the reason you’re doing the luxury sedans is so you can bring us a successor to the 914?”


“Is it because you want to keep the 911 and Boxster small and manageable and free of unnecessary electronics?”

“I don’t think so. I think I’ll make them just like miniature Panameras.”

“But… but… you said you’d bring out a more affordable Porsche.”

“I must have been drunk when I said that. I meant to say I was going to make more trucks. Now shut up before I knock you down.”

“Can we please at least have a stick-shift in our $180,000 GT3?”

*unzips fly*

If all the product disappointments haven’t made it plain what’s really on the mind of Porsche’s management, surely the stock-and-profit escapades of the past few years should have done so. Billions of dollars were wasted in an attempt to pull off some sort of David-and-Goliath fiscal fairytale. Sums of money that could have engineered and delivered brilliant love-letter-to-the-customer product disappeared down a rabbit hole. In the final analysis, a company that is absurdly profitable building well over 150,000 vehicles a year managed to suffer a fate that it had avoided when it sold a thirtieth of that volume — namely, submission to Volkswagen. The Porsche executives weren’t content to be in the car biz. They wanted to be in the money biz, which brings me to mind of Samuel Johnson’s Life of Congreve:

But he treated the muses with ingratitude; for, having long conversed familiarly with the great, he wished to be considered rather as a man of fashion than of wit; and, when he received a visit from Voltaire, disgusted him by the despicable foppery of desiring to be considered not as an author but a gentleman; to which the Frenchman replied, “that, if he had been only a gentleman, he should not have come to visit him.”

Given stewardship of the second-brightest star in the enthusiast firmament, Herr Wiedeking stabbed the 928 and 968 through the heart so he could play at being a financier. There is almost not enough bile in my liver to properly express how I feel about a betrayal, a catastrophe, a fall of that magnitude. And of course the product suffered.

The worst is yet to come, for both Porsche and its fans. If your glory days were glorious enough, you can trade on them for a long time; to this day, the Reverend Al Green can still command fifty thousand bucks to stand on a stage somewhere and sing “Let’s Stay Together”, no questions asked. But sooner or later the younger generations stop picking up what you’re putting down. The 2002 Cayenne was an unmitigated piece of shit but we all cut it some slack because it shared a badge with the 917K. Now there are kids in high school who don’t remember when Porsche didn’t make trucks. Ten years from now, Porsche will be known to most people as a purveyor of trucks and sedans, the same way that Linda Ronstadt became primarily a singer of the great American songbook and Ice Cube became the guy from the movies with the vacations and stuff. Sure, they’ll still build the 911, but Chevrolet’s been building the Corvette since the dawn of time and its existence makes not a whit of difference to Tahoe or Impala buyers. The shield of Stuttgart, if it is lucky, will shine with about the same luster as the stylized “L” of Lexus.

If, that is, Porsche is lucky. Because another thing that comes along with the territory of being a full-line vehicle manufacturer is that people stop giving you a pass on building junk. Those fabulous JD Power results for Boxsters and Nine Elevens aren’t a result of high quality — they’re a result of low expectation. Everybody knows that when you buy an exotic sportscar that you’ll have some nagging issues. The PCM screen won’t come on, the tires will wear out in five thousand miles, the door handle will fall off, the IMS will explode at the 14,000 mile mark, the IMSA 935 will go backwards into some trees, something like that, bro. Accept it. You signed up for it. But if you think that people will be just as patient because they happened to buy a Porsche Macaw or whatever instead of an RX350, think again. That buyer has expectations for quality and durability, and those expectations are set by the RX350, a vehicle they called the “Toyota Harrier” in Japan because it hovered directly over the competition and didn’t stop shooting until everybody’s mother was dead.

No RX350 in history has ever had a quality flaw. Any potential flaws are immediately handled by Lexus Service, who lets you borrow an LS460 for the weekend and explains to you how the defect was actually your fault, and you agree because you don’t want to be the first person in history to discover a quality flaw in an RX350. When you start thinking about selling your RX350, word gets out and one day you open your front door to find a line of people trying desperately to be the highest bidder for your Lexwagon even though your five-year-old just projectile-vomited a fermented Dairy Queen sundae into the center-console buttons last week and it’s still dripping out. All used RXes continue to be worth 81% of their resale value until they are raptured into heaven from beneath their sixth owners at the 500,000-mile mark, leaving behind a satisfied family of Somali immigrants clutching a certificate good for $21,000 trade-in on a new RX350.

That is the bar over which the Macaw must step. This is considerably more difficult than the market requirements for the 911, which are;

  • Look like a 911
  • Be more reliable than an ’87 Testarossa
  • Or at least as reliable
  • Or, failing that, be cheaper to fix

Those were conditions that Porsche could generally meet. But the cheaper the car, and/or the bigger the market, the higher the expectations. There’s a reason that you can buy a Cayenne Turbo S for $15,000 against an original MSRP of $143,000 just seven or eight years after it leaves Leipzig: it doesn’t meet expectations. The man who spent six figures on the Cayenne Turbo S can afford to take that loss, but his more modestly-accomplished younger brother can’t afford to take the same hit on his Macan. If you want to play in the mass market, you need to bring mass market skills to bear. There’s no evidence that Porsche has those skills. Which means that they will eventually fail, and they will fail on a scale from which there is no recovery.

I could be wrong. The Macan could be a tremendous success and it could be so well-built and reliable that it creates an entirely new generation of loyal buyers who can’t wait to buy the Porsche sports cars as companion pieces. The next Cayenne and Panamera and mini-Panamera and mini-mini-Cayenne and B-segment hatch could all be dynamite products. Thirty years from now, Porsche could be the biggest auto manufacturer in the world, offering a line that spans scooters to semi-trucks. Or I might be right, and the company might be heading for the edge of a very high cliff. If that happens, we’ll remember the Cayenne, and the Panamera, and the Macan, alright. Not as the saviors of Porsche, but as the moths in the closet that ate away at the brand until nothing but threadbare pretense was left to cover the shame of a thousand tricks turned for the sake of the almighty Euro. There’s a penalty for that, you know. Take a look at a television next time you’re away from the embrace of the Western world. There are still places where the word “harlot” is used, and there is a penalty for those to whom the word is applied, and the penalty is, regrettably, death.

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Piston Slap: Porsche’s Kid Friendly Option. Yes, Option. Thu, 03 Oct 2013 12:25:49 +0000

Seth writes:


I own two cars – a 2003 A4 3.0 quattro with 81k miles and a 2005 Boxster S with 50k miles. Both were bought used and both have been relatively inexpensive to maintain (so far). I went ahead and replaced the timing belt on the A4 earlier this year due to the car’s age, despite the fact the service manual doesn’t call for a new timing belt until 105k mi (which would occur at 13 years old based on my annual mileage).

That said, my wife is about to have our first baby and this has called my car choices into question. The A4 is pretty small – too small for a kiddo and all her associated stuff – and the Porsche, well, that’s a non-starter. Since I can’t turn the airbag off, my kid wouldn’t see the front seat of the Porsche until she’s a teenager.

The question is: do I trade in both cars and buy a family friendly SUV (say a VW Touareg) or keep the Boxster and trade the Audi in on something a lot less expensive, yet still family friendly? I am torn – I really enjoy the Porsche.

Sajeev answers:

Wait, WHUT? Kids aren’t allowed in a Porsche?

They’re sure as hell allowed in a C5-C6 Corvette…or a regular cab Ford Ranger for that matter.  Oh Porsche, how could you not let us share your pure driving experience with our cute little children?

Turns out that like many features/attributes of a Porsche, safely carrying your kiddo is an extra cost option.  Which sounds stupid, but it’s probably justified like other wallet-killing options: the Slim Thug approved wood grain wheel, fake aluminum trim, retro side decals, pointless body kits or leather-wrapped vent registers. This article explains the two options available to owners of older airbag’d Porkers and younger children. Part number 997-044-800-15 is probably what you need.

To what end?  Get the Boxster sorted for your future sprog and buy a normal vehicle to replace the A4.  I’d suggest avoiding Europe for that, getting a higher value Japanese or American alternative…and pocketing the cash savings from the next few years of ownership into a college fund for the kiddo. Or an impending IMS failure. Ain’t nothing wrong with owning a Boxster and a Camry! Probably.


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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There’s Nothing New Under The Sun – Test Drive Reviews of Porsche’s Entry-Level Sports Cars Sun, 18 Aug 2013 14:37:56 +0000 Fortune Cookie Depending on the type of mood in which I find myself after waking, as well as the type of mood in which I find my car after its waking, I vacillate between being buried in the masterpiece or selling the lemon in short order.  Recently my relationship with my Porsche 911 has been somewhat strained.  A relatively minor issue prompted my most recent trip to the dealer, yet I was set to depart with another four-figure bill.  In a moment of weakness I strolled over to the other side of the dealer and perused their new offerings, in particular the updated 981 Boxster and Cayman twins.  Perhaps relatively predictable depreciation losses would be preferable to the Russian roulette of ongoing high-dollar maintenance.

A particular brand of Porsche enthusiast, usually those who own either of the junior siblings, will claim that those are the “real” sports cars now, considering ownership of the elder 911 an indefensible signifier of a poseur as the icon ascends to the lofty grand touring segment.  I’ll concede that they might have a point, as the entry-level sports cars are smaller and lighter, more in keeping with the original ethos of the giant-killing momentum cars that made the badge famous in the first place.  Plus, they feature a mid-engined architecture that is dynamically optimal, at least on paper, whereas the 911 is a curious outlier with the bulk of its mass situated over the rear axle.The significant price differential in favor of the 981s is, of course, purely coincidental.

Despite being on the youthful side – I’m 24 and look younger – I had my own Porsche in tow, and I was wearing a suit, so booking a test drive of both a Boxster S and a Cayman S proved easy.  Plus, I had recently received a serendipitous fortune cookie, so I had to do some (window) shopping. Despite being an avid Porschephile, I have enjoyed minimal exposure to the more modern product offerings.  It is a common tenet among many serious Porsche owners to maintain without irony that whatever car they happen to own at the time is the absolute pinnacle of the company’s capabilities, with the ensuing model years representing a fundamental sea change in Porsche’s values, fueled by cynical profit pursuit and the triumph of marketing and accounting over engineering, culminating in inexorable decline.  Porsche themselves have even poked fun at this attitude.

Porsche Cynical Poster

NB: Had I been able to locate a digital copy of the above poster with sufficient resolution, you would be able to read the following in the text pane to the right – “255,000 people have an older one in their garage and could talk to you for hours about why theirs is the best year and although we are deeply proud of our heritage we maintain no loyalties to any particular vintage and recommend a brief yet thorough test drive of the newest model available. (Which, incidentally, now has a top speed of 168 miles per hour.)”

The now-deposed 997 owners express reservations over the electrically assisted steering on the latest and greatest 991, whereas the 993 owners bemoan the loss of the air-cooled engine and the ur-911’s original footprint and cabin layout, the 964 owners mourn the upright front fenders that allowed the driver to see how much the car understeered (which was worst just before the car snapped to oversteer!), the G-series owners insist that something was lost with the end of the torsion bar era … all the way back to the 356 owners who are still unconvinced by this whole “911” fad.  Meanwhile they were all sneering at those who were stuck pushing around a front-engined 924,944, 968, or 928, as well as all Boxster and Cayman variants.  When viewed objectively and dispassionately, it’s a facile contention, and it reminds me of similar remarks made at my college graduation; a relatively obscure and stubbornly conservative liberal arts school situated in rural Virginia, my alma mater invariably produces graduates who express a tinge of pity for anyone who attended the school after they did, confident that the experience is diluted evermore each year, and the essence of the place is endangered.

And what about the essence of Porsche?  Is it endangered?  Do they still build true sports cars, and is the 981 stable the rightful inheritor of the air-cooled cars’ legacy?  Most importantly, could it replace my 993?  Of course I had to see for myself, but I received plenty of unsolicited advice from family friends and coworkers. One family friend volunteered that the new Boxster was actually a surprisingly handsome car, representing an improvement over the 986 and 987 cars’ “bar of soap silhouette that [he] would be embarrassed to be seen in.”  A coworker who allegedly maintains a businesslike relationship with rapper Rick Ross, the “Hottest MC in the Game” and a confirmed 911 enthusiast, promised to leverage his professional network and urge the Teflon Don to talk me down from the precipitous proverbial ledge of trading my 911 for a “chick car.”  Concurrently, another colleague warned me that the primary determinant of vehicular desirability was the presence of “sick fuckin’ technology,” helpfully suggesting the purchase of an Acura ILX instead.  Ironically, the latter colleague also professes a meaningful personal connection with RO$$, so I’m anticipating a phone call from a blocked number any day now.  Failing that, I’ll look for Ricky Rozay at the next Porsche Club of America ice cream social.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The Boxster S I drove was resplendent in white.  While the new car undoubtedly looks more muscular, a bit like the last decade’s Carrera GT supercar if you squint a little, I don’t think the refrigerator hue will do the soft top car many favors as it ages. Ellis Boxster 1 Sure it looks good now but so did the new pair of tennis shoes I received each school year as a kid, only to look tired and worn before the first snowfall.  Or perhaps the new Boxsters will age as gracefully as a bathtub 356, who knows? I do know that I prefer the external aesthetics of the new Cayman over the Boxster.  The Cayman S tester was also white, but the more aggressive front fascia treatment and “Platinum Satin” wheels manifest a remarkable improvement in the car’s overall look.  True, the cheaper to manufacture coupe will cost you a few grand more, and painting the wheels will tack on $845, but the krauts know how to extract the most from their patrons.  Seriously, in Guards Red the Cayman S could wear a Pininfarina badge. Ellis Cayman 1 The interior of both cars is also a marked improvement over the previous generation, featuring superior materials – but certainly not standard full leather – and a rising central console that salespeople will tell you invokes the aforesaid Carrera GT.  Personally, I think it more readily elicits comparisons with the Cayenne and Panamera breadwinners. The Boxster S was equipped with the good ol’ G50 6-speed manual… Ellis Boxster Interior … while the Cayman S featured the optional 7-speed PDK transmission and Sport Chrono Package, which total just over $5,000 combined. Ellis Cayman Interior I drove the Boxster S first.  After releasing the strange emergency brake – an oversized button mounted down and to the left of the steering wheel – the controls struck me as typical Porsche, although all inputs felt a bit less substantial, requiring less heft than my tractor of a car.  The sweet manual transmission featured a relatively light clutch with very gradual takeup – the polar opposite of my car – but it was familiar enough that I could heel-and-toe with ease after a few exploratory shifts.  The 3.4 liter engine in the S-variant Boxster produces 315 hp, before running out of steam at 7800 rpm, with peak torque coming in at 266 lb-ft.  Although the test drive was conducted two-up, the Boxster is considerably lighter than my 993, which left the factory with 282 hp and has doubtless sacrificed some of those stallions to the angels’ share – just like the finest Scottish exports – during the interim.  Consequently, the Boxster felt considerably more rapid than my immediate frame of reference.

The Cayman S came next.  I self-identify as a luddite who prefers the interaction of three pedals and a lever over the new-fangled dual clutch setup, but I did find the PDK quite beguiling.  Apart from the humdrum efficiency gains afforded by the extra ratio, the PDK transmission – when coupled with Sport Chrono -  makes a case for itself through enhanced straight line performance, far in excess of the 10 hp and 7 lb-ft incremental gains given to the Cayman S over the lump in the Boxster S.  The PDK + Sport Chrono equation allows the driver to indulge in Launch Control, in which the computer optimizes all parameters and slingshots you forward from a dead stop.  It’s great fun, and impossible not to inscribe a shit-eating-grin on the driver’s face, but it strikes me as a party trick you’d use to dazzle your friends.  It’s an expensive gimmick, that’s all.  As for a holistic assessment of PDK, it’s difficult for me to say whether it would still keep my attention on, say, my 247th day commuting to work without a clutch pedal.

Neither car I drove had the optional Porsche Sports Exhaust, but both provided a sufficient, if somewhat subdued soundtrack.  Even the base setup emits little flourishes of overrun on downshifts, but they come across as synthetic, like Porsche by Pro Tools. Neither car I drove had the optional Porsche Active Suspension Management either, instead riding on the standard, passive dampers.  That was fine, because the all-new chassis underpinning both 981s is a gem.  The combination of enhanced stiffness – heightened more so by a modest yet perceptible margin in the hard top car – and wider tracks versus the precedent 987 cars gives the new cars tremendous composure when pressing on, and the mid-engined orientation endows the car with remarkable agility, particularly through sudden transitions.  The Boxster and Cayman provided sufficient confidence to push the cars into gentle four-wheel drifts when space permitted, something I would not  (intentionally) do in my car.  In my 911 the script reads like this: pronounced, seemingly terminal understeer that rapidly gives way to exuberant oversteer, requiring four attentive limbs to control the car.  It’s akin to the sensation you experience while being towed behind a speed boat that has changed course ahead of you – a spell in the predictable, placid doldrums before being fired across the wake.  Conversely, the modern mid-engined cars slow everything down like Bullet Time in The Matrix, so even a ham-fisted hack feels like a virtuoso, selecting a slip angle from a continuous menu of options.  It is deeply impressive, but perhaps a little less thrilling overall.

Braking has historically been a strong suit for Porsche, and the junior twins performed as expected in this regard, with reassuring retardation bolstered by well-judged sensitivity to modulation.  Both cars had the standard steel brakes, identified by their red calipers, which more than sufficed in all situations encountered; the additional outlay for the bling yellow PCCB calipers is probably overkill, especially as both cars stickered well north of $70,000 already. So what about the steering?

The transition away from hydraulically-assisted steering toward electrically-assisted steering has incensed owners and fanbois alike.  The new steering setup – which included the optional Power Steering Plus in both cars I drove – still allows the driver to position the car with both precision and accuracy, and it becomes weightier once at speed, just like the preceding cars. It performs all of the essential functions that a sports car’s helm should, but part of that Porsche essence is gone; there’s no more tugging, or writhing, or superfluous tactility.  It’s all very efficient, and not in a good way. So what’s there to conclude?  Keen readers already know that the 981 is a very good car, that it shades the primitive, old, air-cooled 911s in every objective measure.

Is there a banal, hackneyed platitude about “soul” to tie these observations and experiences together?  No, the denouement is this:  If you believe that Porsche is evolving through Sisyphean endeavor, gradually pushing the boulder up the mountain a bit more with every passing model year – a bit more power, a bit more economy, a bit more space – then you’ll find no surprises with the newest junior sports cars.  Conversely, if you fear that Porsche is caught  in entropic freefall, you won’t be surprised either, for there’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to Porsche, they stick to the script.

David Walton grew up in the North Georgia mountains before moving to Virginia to study Economics, Classics, and Natural Light at Washington and Lee University. Post-graduation, he returned to his home state to work in the financial services industry in Atlanta.  A lifelong automotive enthusiast, particular interests include (old) Porsches and sports car racing.

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Lighter, More Muscular And More Striking Boxster Promised Tue, 28 Feb 2012 15:42:08 +0000

Porsche put its Boxster on a diet. The result, a lighter Boxster with a wider stance (or, as Porsche calls it, a “road posture that is more muscular and more striking”) will be shown at the upcoming Geneva Auto Salon. Porsche promises “significantly enhanced driving dynamics,” resulting in “unadulterated driving fun.” For green cred, the new Boxsters are promised to be 15 per cent more fuel-efficient.


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Piston Slap: Porsche Customer Service doesn’t Stink? Tue, 27 Dec 2011 17:47:54 +0000


Sam writes:

Hello, can you tell me what ever happened with the Porsche IMS concern? At 18K miles, an IMS bearing failure has caused a catastrophic engine failure in my Porsche 911. My Porsche dealer (who has done all of the Porsche recommended service on the car since new) just told me that there is nothing that they or Porsche can or will do, and that it is an isolated incident. I have since been doing research online, and I find out that an IMS bearing failure is not at all a rare occurrence.

I am not a litigious person and I am not out to tarnish the Porsche name. But with a repair cost of $19k, I cannot afford to get my car fixed. I am looking to get Porsche to step up and address what would appear to be a bearing design defect.

The problem exists in Carerras, Boxsters and Caymans, and Porsche has redesigned this bearing 4 times and have even designed the IMS completely out of the newest 997 direct injection engines. I need some help please and would be sincerely grateful for any help you can give me.

My Porsche dealer here at first told me that only the stud on the Intermediate Shaft had broken, and that they had caught it in time to prevent catastrophic engine damage. They quoted me on a $2000. repair in which they would install an aftermarket-3rd party bearing manufactured by LN Engineering. They told me that they have installed as many as 6 of the LN Engineering bearings in cars brought in for Porsche authorized service. Then 3 days later when the aftermarket bearing arrived and they went to remove the IMS from my car they discovered that the damage had been much more severe than they had initially thought and thus would only be able to proceed using a Porsche factory rebuilt engine at a cost of $19K. Even if the failure rate is <1%, the cost to the car’s owner is huge (I will not be able to get mine repaired as I do not have that kind of money). It is very telling that an authorized Porsche dealer would be installing non-Porsche manufactured bearings in Porsche engines unless of course…….it is because they know that there is a problem with the OEM bearing design.

While I do not want to see the dealer get into trouble with Porsche Corporate (call me selfish since I only want my car fixed and not some class-action lawsuit) I think that this is significant.

Respectfully yours,

Sajeev answers:

Your assessment of the situation is complete and seems even more accurate. Yes, the IMS bearing is junk and they fail on many Boxsters, 996s non-turbos and even 997s…except for the latest DI motors which silently resolved the problem. My question to you, at what year of ownership did this happen? Because at 18k, any late model 911 is under warranty and they are legally obligated to fix it under that warranty.

Reading between the lines, many Porkers run out of warranty because of time, not mileage. Such is the life of a play toy. And in that case, I fully understand your situation and I wish you and your 996 (probably) the best of luck.

Months later, Sam updates:

Mr. Mehta: Porsche came through for me in a big way. My 2003 now has a new engine and my feeling is that they went above and beyond for me. I will be buying Porsche again as they stand behind their Products.

Sajeev Concludes:

Maybe Porsche isn’t the only one, but they are in our scope for now: this Piston Slap shows that a loyal customer gets the treatment they deserve, warranty or not.  And those who deviate from the dealership’s paper trail tend to not get what’s coming to them. And heaven forbid you put your Porker on the track, accidentally hit the rev limiter (Big Brother is Watching) a couple times, put a K&N/cat-back exhaust and get your service work done elsewhere.  My argument hinges on your statement:

“My Porsche dealer…who has done all of the Porsche recommended service on the car since new.”

Congrats Sam, I will consider you one of the lucky ones. Best and Brightest, your thoughts???

Send your queries to . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: New Boxster, Unboxed Edition Thu, 06 Oct 2011 15:19:00 +0000 Sorry to bring you here under false pretenses, but TTAC can’t actually afford the kind of “spy photographs” that are so perfectly posed they almost seem like manufacturer-released press shots. Happily, Autocar can, and has given the internet the first camo-free photography of the new baby Carrera GT-look Boxster S. So go ahead, surf on over, but then be sure to scurry back here to discuss the new look. We don’t have to pay Brenda Priddy to do that, do we?

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New or Used: Makeup Case Not Included Sat, 28 May 2011 20:39:25 +0000

TTAC Commentator Ronman writes:

Hi Sajeev and Steve, hope all is well. I have a query for a friend. He is a photographer in California, and has recently felt the urge to buy a convertible. His requirements are kind of eclectic with a sort of tight budget.

Here it goes: he wants a convertible so that he can enjoy the sun in his neck of the woods, he wants one that drives well with some decent power and with the top down he would like to be able to use the car for tracking shots and the like. He would prefer a hardtop for safety reasons (theft) as some of his gear might be in the car at times. Also since his budget spans from 12 to 16k, he would prefer the used car he is going to ultimately buy not be a pocket burner in terms of maintenance. So a model that can be acquired with extended warranties would be preferable.

He’s already tested a 2002 SLK280, but he’s wondering what would be nicer on the mid term, the SLK, a similar vintage Boxter, or Audi TT convertible. I had advised him about the presence of the Honda S2000, Mazda MX5 (he said it’s too girly), and the Pontiac Solstice or Saturn equivalent (not sure if those slot in the budget) however he did mention that if it’s worthwhile he would try to up his budget somewhat. a 2 seater convertible is not a strict thing but it is preferable. So what do you and the B&B think?

Sajeev Answers:

Ronman, with those needs and that budget, your buddy is looking at what I sometimes call “The Dark Ages” of German value engineering. Buying a used model from this era (especially with no service records) is beyond stupid. The Boxster’s IMS engine failures and (some) Audi’s engine sludging are well known, but it takes more forum digging to learn all the expensive problems on the other models. And he better, unless he doesn’t mind surprise repairs that can be in the thousands.

Not that the new stuff from Germany is simply outstanding in terms of long term value, so I’d recommend your friend buys a hardtop MX-5. The GM Kappas are a good alternative, but finding a hard top might be tough. Maybe a Thunderbird, if he needs more space/comfort and wouldn’t mind the occasional retro kick in his photography.

And honestly, is a MX-5 any more “girly” than a TT or SLK? But I suspect he’ll buy whatever he likes on the test drive. And if its an SLK, TT or Boxster without reassuring amount of service records, be totally okay with rubbing it in when he complains about the repair bills.

Steve Answers:

Let’s see. Your buddy thinks the MX-5 is girly? Based on what?

I have yet to see one of those come with a standard make-up case. Seriously. Everyone from Jeremy Clarkson to yours truly likes the MX-5. Even a guy I met who deals with some of the nastiest scum of the Earth as a public defender in Northwest Georgia drives one. Four kids and built like a marine, I’m sure he would have gone for an old Wrangler if he was concerned that folks would see him as ‘girly’ in a car that a lot of guys like.

This isn’t even a question given his criteria. He should buy the MX-5 and load it up with whatever he likes. It’s wonderful to drive. Reliable. Sporty, and damn simple to keep up and maintain. All the German models your son mentioned were built at a time when German quality was a painful oxymoron. Skip em’.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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Super Piston Slap: Kickstarting a Porsche IMS Lawsuit? Mon, 07 Feb 2011 16:53:22 +0000

Robert writes:

I just replaced the engine in my 2005 Porsche 911 due to the failure of the INTERMEDIATE SHAFT. I would like to know just how widespread the problem is with 911’s and other Porsche models too. Why?

I am considering filing a lawsuit against Porsche to recover the costs associated with replacing the engine. If you have had an INTERMEDIATE SHAFT failure and have an interest in joining in my lawsuit or simply sharing your experience please contact me:

Sajeev Answers:

While Baruth (HINT-HINT) preps his remarks, let’s look back: since the dawn of the automotive era, many a niche car builder received a free pass from their colossal mechanical failures. That’s part of the game: Ferraris is (sometimes?) known for fixing production mistakes well after customers take delivery. We recently saw just that with the Corvette ZR1, too. Even Deloreans were known to…well, perhaps that’s beating a dead horse.

Porsche prides itself on mechanical perfection: selling it lock/stock/barrel in their expensive iron, loading it to the hilt with additional expenses like leather wrappings, Sport Chronos and fancy Porsche Design accessories. But the “grin and bear it” part after spending thousands on repairs and maintenance bothers me. That is, after I worked in a shop where RMS (rear main seal) failures on pre-loved, out of warranty Porsche boxers were more than a little common. It left a mark on me.

But the IMS problem is a rarer, far more painful beast of burden.  The YouTube video above does a good job explaining the problem. And while that particular IMS failure came from a Spec-Boxster street car cum weekend warrior, isn’t Porsche engineering up to that task?  I know plenty of mainstream shitbuckets that do quite well as purpose-built racers in the 24 Hours of LeMons, accomplishing much more with far, far less from the factory.

So it’s a shame, and you can search many a Porsche-intensive forum to see the problem firsthand. And judge for yourself.  My thoughts are as follows: shouldn’t this problem require an announcement from Porsche like this?  Wouldn’t a brand so proud of their engineering decide to take a significant hit on their balance sheet to make loyal customers happy?  Maybe going 50/50 on the repair would be just enough to smooth things over. But I guess the April Fools in the above link applies solely to Porsche owners.

So the lawsuit, or threat thereof.  If this comes to fruition, the real winners will be the lawyers.  And that’s fine, I’ve seen plenty of injustices go unpunished. So who better to fight back than the stereotypical rich jerks in their Porsches? We wouldn’t mind owners of IMS failures chiming in too, just to gauge this lawsuit’s potential reach.

Seriously: Best and Brightest, what are your thoughts on a possible class action lawsuit for Porsche IMS failure?

Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Buy And Cell Tue, 20 Jul 2010 13:17:10 +0000

17 year-old Steven Ortiz is the envy of his friends at Charter Oak High School. The reason? He drives a Porsche Boxster S to school. And before you say it, it doesn’t belong to his parents. It’s legally his. Now I know what you’re thinking at this stage, “How does this punk drive a Porsche to school and I had to make do with a Ford Pinto?”  Well, the answer lies with 3 things, an old mobile phone, a little time and Craigslist.

Steven Ortiz used an old mobile phone and bartered his way to a 2000 Porsche Boxster, The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports. And because he’s now famous for this, people think he can provide this service at random. “I get so many people who say, ‘Can you trade my phone for a car?’ I just say ‘Yeah. It’s not that easy,’” said Steve Ortiz. The barter went like this:

Mr Ortiz got given an old mobile phone from a friend of his. Using Craigslist, he traded it for a better phone, which then got traded for an iPod touch. That, then, got traded for a few dirt bikes, then a MacBook Pro and then, a 1987 Toyota 4Runner. By this time he was only 15 and couldn’t really use it, so that got swapped for a souped-up, off-road golf cart, then another dirt bike, a streetbike, then another series of cars, then a 1975 Ford Bronco. This was the key trade, because older Broncos are considered to be a collector’s item. Mr Ortiz’s Bronco was worth an estimated $15,000. Whilst he had the Bronco, Ortiz was offered a locksmith business, which he turned down. Then came the offer of a Porsche Boxster for his Bronco. What was interesting was that the Porsche was only worth $9000, so it was actually a trade-down, rather than a trade-up.

It’s important, at this stage, to clarify that Steven Ortiz considers himself not to be a crook. “People just make trades,” Ortiz said, “I am not lying to anyone.” So before you all start swearing and screaming what a jammy sod he was, deep down you’re all thinking the same thing. “Wish I’d thought of that…”.

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Trackday Diaries: Distraction, the street-steer mindset. Fri, 16 Jul 2010 14:00:51 +0000

Hmm… quite the contretemps yesterday with regards to Web-surfing while driving. Honestly, if I’m endangering any of you by looking at my phone while driving on a freeway so empty that I can’t see a single set of headlights behind me or taillamps ahead, I apologize. And I don’t even own a Martin Backpacker. In a perfect world we’d all be driving in completely silent cars, alone, well-rested and emotionally stable. In my real world, I cover 40,000-plus miles a year on the road and track. Most of those miles are affected by some sort of distraction, whether it’s a phone conversation, personal stress, or trying to sing Douala phonetically along with Richard Bona records. I try to be honest with TTAC readers about what I do behind the wheel. Most of the people in this business are writing whatever they think will ingratiate themselves with the readers or — more commonly — the advertisers.

As it so happens, the one above-parking-speed automobile accident I’ve had since 1988 was directly related to distracted driving. My brother and I were rolling my VW Fox down Cranston Drive in Dublin, Ohio, about eighteen years ago. I was doing about 30 mph. There was a pizza guy in front of me, driving a Tercel. He made a left out of my way. Right then I saw the finest-looking teenaged girl to ever put on a pair of tiny shorts and jog down Cranston Drive. While I watched the shorts, the pizza guy changed his mind and literally backed up into the road. I saw it out of the corner of my eye but was still carrying about 10mph when I hit him. The cop cited us both; me for assured clear distance, him for reckless op. Worst of all, the girl kept running and I never had a chance to share my personal testimony with her.

This article has some of my favorite on-track oversteer photos, from Autobahn Country Club and Waterford Hills respectively. Notice how everybody likes to put up oversteer photos, but nobody ever puts up understeer photos?

Oversteer is cool. Understeer is lame. Yet very few of us really ever deal with oversteer issues during dry-weather trackdays in modern street cars. Nearly everything money can buy, from the Chevrolet Cavalier to the Ferrari 458 Italia, has designed-in understeer. If you want designed-in oversteer, you will have to go racing. I set my Plymouth Neon race car up with narrower tires in back, 650-pound rear springs, a big swaybar, and rear toe-out. When I turn into a corner, the back end steps out naturally. If I do not correct it a tiny bit, the car will crash. Do you want a car which will crash in any turn where you do not apply the proper amount of high-speed correction? No you don’t. For the record, I don’t want it either, but when you race against Miatas and Civics that have a foot less wheelbase than you do, something has to be done to keep you from falling back in faster corners.

Back to your street car, which has one of the following two features:

  • More weight over the front wheels than the rear (everything up to and including Bimmers)
  • “Staggered” tires with more width in back (Loti, Porsches, Ferraris, and so on)

There are a few exceptions, but not many, and most of them are Pontiac Fieros. The rest of us are driving cars which will understeer on corner entry.

Every student I have ever had, without exception, has made the following mistake on track. I’ve done it too and will continue to do it, and I’ve seen Lewis Hamilton do it on television, so read on. You are not immune.

When we drive cars on the street, the amount of steering we get from the front tires is directly proportional to the amount of steering we request at the wheel. Every once in a great while, like in heavy rain or when we are “hammering a B-road”, we might experience mild understeer. Let’s say that happens one time out of one hundred, and that’s being generous.

Since we get a precise and directly correlated steering amount 99-out-of-100 times we try it, we come to expect it. So, when a student goes bombing too fast into a corner and cranks the wheel too much, he gets understeer. I tell him, “Unwind the steering wheel.”

He can’t do it. He is convinced that if he unwinds the steering wheel a bit, the car will STOP TURNING. He thinks this because if you do that on the street, at reasonable speeds, you will go right off the outside of the turn. Try it! (No, don’t, and please don’t yell at me for suggesting it.)

At racetrack speeds, the steering wheel is a suggestion to the tires. Nothing more, nothing less. Ross Bentley, who coached me in 2007, says “At the limit of our tires, the steering wheel slows the car down, while the throttle and brake steer it.” Chew on that a bit. I’ll explain why it’s so in a future article.

With most of my students, I end up having to reach over and unwind the wheel for them a bit. They realize that unwinding the wheel actually produces more turning force because they aren’t as far past the effective slip angle of the tires. The light bulb goes on, usually around the tenth time I do it.

Sometimes the student is exceptionally intelligent and he will ask why I’m better at finding the available traction with my left hand, reached across the cabin, than he is with both hands in front of him. The answer is twofold. First, I’ve done it a zillion times and he has not. Second, I use a relaxed grip and keep my palm off the wheel.

You’ll never win a race against solid drivers if your palms are resting firmly on the wheel. It kills your ability to sense traction. The steering wheel is vibrating in your hands at a specific frequency. That frequency is generated by the vibration of tire on asphalt. Want an extreme example? Go out to a wet parking lot and deliberately steer the car too much. The wheel will vibrate heavily in your hands as you pass the traction limit. That kind of feedback is available to you, at a much lower volume, all the time.

Michael Schumacher did special strengthening exercises so he could steer his F1 car using only his fingertips. We use fingertips to steer, where possible, for the same reason you don’t do calligraphy by locking your elbow and moving your whole arm. Precise motions require precise muscles.

After a nice relaxing night, I was in much better mental shape for my second day at Summit Point and prepared to turn out some decent laps. I get distracted pretty easily during 9/10ths driving. I tried to sneak an iPod into my race car for an enduro event a few years ago but the crew caught me. I just wanted to hear some music for what would be a two-hour stint without much drama. Oh well. In my Boxster I have the stereo, but I turned it off and put my head down to do ten of the best laps I could put together.

For about fourteen minutes I was completely focused, trail-braking every entrance, feeling for grip, kicking up a tiny puff of dirt at every exit. When you’re at your personal limit, it’s wonderful. Time disappears, the chattering backmind is banished. There’s nothing but you, the motor, the tires, and the track. Nobody can touch you and you cannot make a mistake. Is two days of grinding it out worth fourteen minutes of pure focused fury? At the very least, it’s a ticket away from distraction.

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Winterkorn: No 13th Brand For VW Sat, 19 Dec 2009 18:05:08 +0000 Winterkorn, sending the wrong signals. Picture courtesy

VW CEO  Martin Winterkorn is a superstitious man. He doesn’t want to add a 13th brand to his (or rather Piech’s) large collection. (Coincidentally, 12 is the number of Piech’s children. More or less. Nobody is quite sure,) “There are some who knock on our door. Some really want to come under our roof as they see we’re on a good path strategically. But we are satisfied with the current line-up,” Winterkorn said to Wirtschaftswoche.  Specifically questioned about Volvo or (gasp) Daimler, Winterkorn answered: „There are many who would like to snuggle in VW’s cozy bed. Thank you, not interested.”  Instead, he’s re-thinking the line-up of his new acquisitions:  “I could imagine a smaller Cayenne derivative. Or a Porsche below the Boxster. This is under discussion.”

As far as synergies with Suzuki go, Winterkorn sees the usual savings when buying parts. (Suppliers, beware the feared Volkswagen-Einkauf.) He can also imagine Kei cars “on the roads of Paris, London, or Bangkok.” What he doesn’t see at all is the rumored Nano-swatter, built by VW & Suzuki: “A Nano is taboo for us. We will never stoop down to a level of a Nano. We have certain standards, for instance when it comes to safety. Suzuki won’t do that either.” Never say never: A low-priced entry model for emerging markets is thinkable for Winterkorn.

Suzuki dealers could also sell VWs. But strictly within the boundaries of racial separation, called Markentrennung at VW: “They have to do that in separate showrooms.”

Winterkorn is looking forward to 2010. He sees a higher market share for VW, especially in the B(R)IC countries. He’s up on the electrification of the car, someday. He’s decidedly down on hydrogen. Reminded that Daimler wants to sell a hydrogen car at the price of a common hybrid by 2015, Winterkorn sneered: “They also had announced production-ready hydrogen cars for 2004.” He doesn’t believe that hydrogen can be made in an environment-friendly way, and he can’t imagine a hydrogen gas station at every corner.

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Porsche To Magna: Take The Money And Run Sat, 19 Dec 2009 09:13:47 +0000 Eat my dust. Picture courtesy

Last year, Porsche gave Magna an eight-year contract to build the Cayman and Boxster models from 2012 on. Then Porsche went to Volkswagen. Then Opel came. VW was miffed and said “us or Opel.” When Magna’s Opel deal went poof, VW said Magna can come home, all is forgiven. Apparently not quite. Volkswagen (or Porsche, hard to say these days…)  want to use the factories of bankrupt Karmann which Volkswagen had bought and cancelled the contract. Magna cried foul and wanted money.

Now, the matter is official, writes Automobilwoche [sub].

Porsche has officially dissolved the outsourcing contract with Magna, Boxster and Cayman will be built somewhere else, most likely in the former Karmann works in Osnabrück.

And Magna? Magna received a nice, but unspecified chunk of money for their troubles from magnanimous Porsche. (Or Volkswagen.)  VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, who is also head of Porsche now, said: “You can believe me, Magna is very happy with the solution. They have been compensated for their work.”  Come 2012, your Boxster or Cayman will not be made in Austria, but in scenic Osnabrück, birth place of the Karmann Ghia.

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