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Old 11-12-2009, 04:05 PM   #1
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03 S vs. 05 base ? (helping out a potential Boxster owner :-) )

First of all, Hi to everyone here, as this is my first post

Well, ever since I had the luxury of borrowing an 02 Boxster for a week 2 years ago
, thanks to my dear friend who went out of country for a week and needed
a ride to/from the airport, I had experienced how this roadster would
enhance my life dearly.

Financially it didn't work at the time, but now things are lining up a bit better
so I am in the market for one (and my first Porsche to boot).

I have been looking at 2003 S, as it's the latest of the great 986 with all the enhancements.

At the time I didn't consider 987 at all, as they were too new and too $$. However, now days I found examples of 05 base model in the same price range as a well-optioned 03 S.

I prefer 987's exterior over the 986's, but like 986's interior design better.
Performance and driving dynamics should be fairly comparable in numbers, at least on paper.

I was advised to buy the latest Porsche I can afford, and I am leaning towards getting the 987 base.

Any owners out there who were in the similar situations and found good reasons for choosing a 986 S over 987 base ( or vice versa) ?

Thanks in advance for any comments.
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Old 11-12-2009, 05:23 PM   #2
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in my opinion the newer the better even if it is a base 987
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Old 11-12-2009, 06:16 PM   #3
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There's only 12hp difference between the 2, so that's a push.

Most people like the interior of the 987 and the exterior of the 986. Interesting turn around that you like the opposite.

How tall are you? 987s are friendlier to tall people than a 986.

If you decide to go 987, it might be worth a trip to San Fran to hunt for a couple of days. A quick look through Craigslist shows quite a few inexpensive 05 & 06s.

Good luck with your decision and purchase. It's a great time to buy.
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Old 11-12-2009, 06:18 PM   #4
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I was at the same decision. I found an 05 base and once I drove it that was it. Mine has the PASM and the 6speed. The six-gear was one of the main things I was after. I have not regretted one of the 24,000 miles I've put on it.

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Old 11-12-2009, 07:44 PM   #5
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Hello Northern986, welcome to the board! I'd recommend driving both models because depending on the person and your tastes it could really go either way. This has been a heavily debated topic in the past so search the archives as well and you'll find numerous opinions, but like I said buy the one that you like and you can't be wrong.
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Old 11-13-2009, 01:44 AM   #6
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I have an 03 S and love it. I have driven the base 05 and in my humble opinion the engine doesnt have as nice of a growl. I am also a fan of the 6 speed of the 03 S vs the 5 speed. I like the interior better in the 987. So I guess I am adding nothing to the conversation as it is up to personal preference.

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Old 11-13-2009, 04:17 AM   #7
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I bought an 03 S about a year ago. I'm a cheap SOB and live in Colorado where they charge personal property tax on your yearly license plates. One of the reasons I went with the 03 S was it had the features, like glass back window and glove box, was the first year for those important updates, and was way cheaper to insure and register each year. The 03 and 04 are essentially the same, but all things considered, I'd rather have an older one as every year gets you a reduced cost to own.
It's a 5th car for me and I only use it for pleasure driving on nice summer days. I figure I'll have the car for 20 years or so and only considered very low mileage cars to start with. My 03 S had just over 14k miles on it so it was practically new and it was less than 1/2 the price of a new one at the time. For me, think I made the right decision.

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Old 11-13-2009, 05:38 AM   #8
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I have a '01S that I'm perfectly satisfied with

but if I were buying today, I'd buy the '05 base.

I had a '99 (201HP) and swear I had more fun in it than the ~250HP S because I could keep my foot into it longer and still stay legal. So to me the base versus S isn't important. Heck my 85HP 914 had enough to get me in trouble. Mine doesn't have to be bigger than yours.

I'd invite you to go to a magazine review of the '05 that cites all the changes between the '03-'04 models and the '05-08 ones.

The major differences I remember were:

Variable ratio power steering

Stiffer chassis, wider wheel alignment

Bigger brakes

Head airbags

PSM standard

Improved headlights

More cockpit room

Better positioned roll bars

So you could see better, steer better, stop better, keep the tires on the road surface better, not tip over better and be safer in a crash. But to me the difference was comfort. I could position the seat the way I want it without worrying if a rear end collision would drive my head back into the roll bar.

Plus there were ergonomic changes I liked.

Having said all that...the '03 is a terrific car. We are talking degrees of excellence here.

http://www.roadandtrack.com/article.asp?section_id=6&article_id=1657
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Old 11-13-2009, 06:31 AM   #9
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I must be one of the few that that like the interior of the 986 over the 987 (other than my friend). I also like the dimensions of the 986 over the 987; but as mentioned, there is no right or wrong.

Newer isn't always better...
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Old 11-13-2009, 06:57 AM   #10
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I would stay away from the 05. That was the first year of the 987, so like the 99, it had a lot of bugs that needed tweaking. Consumer reports gave it an okay on reliability compared to the 03 which is excellent. If you like the 987 model, shop for an 06. I own a 03, and love it, but I also love the 987.
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Old 11-13-2009, 08:36 AM   #11
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I had a 1999 986 for ten years, then sold it and bought an 06 987. IMHO, the 987 is a far more sophisticated car. Interior is more in keeping with a near $50K car. The additional horsepower is evident. And although the exterior changes are subtle, it just looks leaner and meaner.

Go for the 987.
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Old 11-13-2009, 10:16 AM   #12
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Thanks to all of you who took your time to share your experiences
and thoughts !

I've test driven an 03 S and it was a blast and the car fits me
well. I have only sat in an 06 base. At the time I wasn't considering 987 so I didn't ask to test drive it (well, didn't want to ask the sales to move 3-4 cars to get the Boxster out of the lot ). Like many of you suggested, the best way to find out
is to test drive one. I will visit a dealer who has a 06 base this weekend

ehanauer, you are probably a good owner to ask about, in your opinion, the improvements in handling characteristics since you owned 986 for 10 years !
Have you driven the 986 S?

crios I was considering that. Unfortunately the 06 pricing is out of my range at the moment. However, if I had my heart firmly set on a 987 I may be entering a new game of "get the 05 now or wait for several months for the 06 price to come down".. Do you have any reference on 06 being more reliable than 05? Just curious. (PS, the midnight blue is the color I want. nice shot !)

jmatta my friend I like the 986 interior, despite of the materials,
I find its curves flow very dynamically and speak SPEEEEED to me better.

mikefocke, Thanks for the references. I agree that we are talking about degrees of excellence here.

Dave S., Interesting situation in Colorado.. We are in the process of moving back to Vancouver, BC and the insurance on the vehicles there are $$$$. I should get a quote on insurance cost on 986 vs. 987 as that would be factor in the long run. Do you have PSM? That's one must-have option on my list as
it's our 2nd car and will be driven most of the pacific northwest fall/winter days.

BeachBum, The gear box is one of my consideration. Although 6-speed
(w/ PASM) is available in 987 base I only find a few pricy examples. I will test drive the 5 speed 987 and see how I like it.

Adam. Thanks ! That's one fine 986 S you have (with the museum grade 5-star garage to host the beauty !).

944boy. How do you like the PASM ? How well does it work on street (vs. track)? Have you driven the 987 without PASM in comparison?

husker boxster, I am fairly short ( 5' 6") and 986 fit me very well. Once I test drive the 987 I will find out. Yes, there are several nice examples of 987 in the sunny Bay Area and Texas. I probably won't be able to make a trip down in the next while as we are in the process of moving north to Canada. I will see
(PS. very nice Fall colors to complement your limited edition !)

jacabean, Thanks... hence my debate..
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Old 11-14-2009, 05:39 AM   #13
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Quote: "Dave S., Interesting situation in Colorado.. We are in the process of moving back to Vancouver, BC and the insurance on the vehicles there are $$$$. I should get a quote on insurance cost on 986 vs. 987 as that would be factor in the long run. Do you have PSM? That's one must-have option on my list as
it's our 2nd car and will be driven most of the pacific northwest fall/winter days."

Actually the insurance cost is more of a short-term issue, as after about 7 years or so, they would probably be closer to the same cost.

My car had most of the options I thought were critical: PSM, Heated Seats, Windstop, 18 inch 5 spoke wheels (bonus: with colored crests). Plus it was Seal Grey with a light grey interior which was my favorite color combo. The only thing I thought I wanted that it didn't have was the Bose stereo system, but the crappy stereo and speakers were easily upgraded. The rear tires were also ready for replacement.
It's a fun time shopping for, and buying your first Porsche. Don't be in a hurry. There are a lot of good deals out there. Find the right one and buy the one you'll be the most happy with, all things considered.
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Old 11-14-2009, 03:04 PM   #14
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OK, I'll bite. What were these bugs

in the '05 model year? I follow about 8 Boxster forums in several countries and am not aware of any significant differences between an '05 and an '06 in terms of reliability.

And I don't believe the small self-selecting sample that creates the CR ratings on reliability for a car like a Porsche. Consider that not only are you asked to return a complex form but also to contribute to the cost of processing. If that doesn't influence the sample characteristics, I don't know what does.
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Old 11-15-2009, 06:54 PM   #15
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I've had no out of the ordinary problems with my '05. At 77,000 + miles I say that if something was to go wrong, it would have. I also expect to replace things solely on the fact they will wear out from use (switches, bushings, etc).

As for PASM, I was not keen on getting it when i was looking. But now that I have it, I love it. For the street it is taught without being too harsh with the button off, and with it active it becomes kind of jarring but the handling when in a corner is flat out impressive. The handling even on "eh" tires is still excellent. And on the track I was harassing a Cayman S with a good driver for most of a session. I was having enough fun to chunk HTRZIII's quite badly and vaporize stock brake pads (much better with Hawk race pads).

My only concern is when they finally let go, the cost of replacing one or all the units might be horrendous. I may just go with coil-overs when that day comes. But for now, I'm keeping them.

The only 987 I drove without PASM was a tip, but it also had sticky tires and an auto-x alignment so there was not much of a comparison. The 03S I drove had coil-overs, and the 1999 base did not have the confidence that the 987 has. So I do not have any direct experience. I can tell you that at the nation PCA meets, the PASM equipped cars were cleaning house at the auto-x.
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Old 11-16-2009, 02:37 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave S.
My car had most of the options I thought were critical: PSM, Heated Seats, Windstop, 18 inch 5 spoke wheels (bonus: with colored crests). Plus it was Seal Grey with a light grey interior which was my favorite color combo. The only thing I thought I wanted that it didn't have was the Bose stereo system, but the crappy stereo and speakers were easily upgraded. The rear tires were also ready for replacement.
It's a fun time shopping for, and buying your first Porsche. Don't be in a hurry. There are a lot of good deals out there. Find the right one and buy the one you'll be the most happy with, all things considered.
Thanks, Dave. Unfortunately the test drive on the weekend didn't happen
The weather forecast for this Saturday is mixed rain/snow Not a bad thing actually, as I can test the PSM working.
I am in the market for a midnight blue (or other shades of blue). PSM, heated seats and litronic are on my option list.
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Old 11-16-2009, 02:50 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 944boy
I can tell you that at the nation PCA meets, the PASM equipped cars were cleaning house at the auto-x.
Thanks for sharing the experience with PASM. This is helpful.
The PASM option would be a luxury for me as the used 987 with PASM are rare and $$, and I am deciding between a well-optioned 03 S or the "inexpensive" 987 out there. Nice to know it does work as designed, since who knows where this path will lead me into
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Old 11-16-2009, 04:06 PM   #18
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My $.02, when I bought my MY01 base in 06, I didn't care if it was the base or the "S". The move into a Boxster was such a quantum jump up from what I had. It might be the same for you with respect to 03S vs 05 base.

With the 03 you are getting a MY that has had most of the kinks worked out of it (set aside $ for the IMS refit). And it has the glass rear window, which to me fixes the biggest non-mechanical downer of the 1st gen cars. I hate doing the chop.

I think you'll be happy as long as the 03 is in good shape (get a PPI in any case).
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Old 11-16-2009, 06:38 PM   #19
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When I was looking for a Boxster, I had two choices here locally. An 03 S 5sp and a 03 base with a tip, the S cost 5k more than the 03 based and had 1k less miles. However the base model had PSM, Heated Seats, 17 inch wheels (with colored crests), yes the S has a bigger engine and brakes but that's all. I purchased the base for 5k less and more options. But in the end, it's about what you feel is right for you and whichever you select, I hope you enjoy it.
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Old 11-17-2009, 04:12 AM   #20
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Later is better.

Go for the 05!~
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