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Old 08-19-2010, 02:58 AM   #1
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New Owner - Handling Advice?

Hi all. Recently I decided to give up bikes, sell my jet ski and finally get rid of my incredibly mundane Audi A3. Was just about to buy a Honda S2000 - when I noticed a few Boxsters for sale, I thought surely I cant afford one of them!

However 4 days later and I'm the proud owner of a 2001 Boxster S in stunning condition. Driving it yestrday I realised I havn't been so happy to be driving since i was 18 and passed my test - 10 years ago!

I fully intend to get it on a track, and try to keep safe on the roads, however I like to push it occassionally - what should i expect? Note: it came with traction control which i've left on!

I hit a few roundabouts in the damp, seemed to get a slight tailside when the Traction Control light lit up. After that I seemed to pretty much get very slight 4 wheel slide and pretty much understeer - is this to be expected with traction control on?

Any advice and input on how the boxster handles in differnt conditions, with TC ON AND OFF??!


I'm going to drive pretty carefully though, I think I've jsut found my pride and joy!
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Old 08-19-2010, 03:40 AM   #2
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I can't answer half your question, because when I found the one I liked (also an '01 S) it just so happened not to have TC...I wasn't particularly worried about it. As you have found out, with that engine in what is a fairly light car, one can definitely break the rear end loose.

A short story. When I was looking (July, 2006), my son (who was 18 at the time) and I test drove (just me driving) another '01 S. This one, however, did have PSM, which I had on when I drove around a 3-4 mile circuit with the salesman. When I got back to the dealership, I asked the guy if I could do the same circuit with my son, since he actually was getting fairly knowledgeable about cars (both in the shadetree mechanic sense and, of course, from hours spent on Forza!). He acquiesced and we set out. Got half way through through the same circuit when Colin recommended we try it without the PSM. "Okay" I said, turning it off.

We came to a T-bone intersection, I stopped, then went to make the right turn onto a road that was actually a lightly used divided highway. I didn't exactly execute a smooth launch (an understatement), but launch it I did. Next thing we knew, we were fishtailing all over the place. Fortunately there was nobody around to witness (or to smack into) and I quickly got things under control. But it kind of got the adrenaline going, if you know what I mean.

I've only once had that problem with the Box I ultimately bought. It seems like you can feel when you're reaching the limit and, unless you're really being an idiot about it, make adjustments. When I (occasionally) break the rear end loose these days (usually accelerating into a turn), I know what's happening and don't have much trouble controlling things. The one exception alluded to above: I was straight-line accelerating in cold weather on a smooth, wet road. I learned (real fast) that you don't do that with summer performance tires...I might as well have been on a sheet of wet ice! A lesson I won't soon forget!
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Old 08-19-2010, 06:23 AM   #3
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Enjoy your car! The Boxster is one of the most fun cars to drive at any price.

My suggestion is to leave the TC on for street driving. It will really help keep you from shaking hands with a guard rail in the wet. Get to a PCA performance driving school or Driver Education event where you can experiment with driving dynamics in a safe environment. 20 minutes on a wet skidpad with traction control off will teach you volumes about Boxster driving dynamics.
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Old 08-19-2010, 06:46 AM   #4
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As mid-engined cars go, the Boxster is about as friendly as they come. I wouldn't say it's as enjoyably driftable as something like a well set up BMW, but I certainly wouldn't call it at all edgy.

Also, I'm not sure about the more powerful 987 models, but the 986 cars generally have more grip than grunt, which given the tone of your post is probably a good thing. In short, as long as you don't do something pretty silly, your Boxster is very unlikely to bite you.
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Last edited by pothole; 08-19-2010 at 06:49 AM.
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Old 08-19-2010, 07:25 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pothole
Also, I'm not sure about the more powerful 987 models, but the 986 cars generally have more grip than grunt, which given the tone of your post is probably a good thing. In short, as long as you don't do something pretty silly, your Boxster is very unlikely to bite you.
I'll second that sentiment. No PSM on my Boxster S, and I haven't missed it.

From the HPDE that I did in May, I was reminded of 2 important lessons: (1) Smooth throttle, steering, and brake inputs will go a long way in maintaining car control; and (2) continuous--and smooth--throttle application exiting a corner will almost ALWAYS keep the back end from swapping places with the front.

Enjoy your new car!
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Old 08-19-2010, 10:25 AM   #6
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Nice ride!

PSM, commonly referred to as 'Please Save Me' is a good thing for the average driver to have, though as mentioned, nothing beats a DE or driving course. Educating the Driver is almost always the best control feature you can add, plus it's portable!

One thing not mentioned is Tires. These are what actually grip the road and if yours are worn or even several years old, either replace them, or keep the car way below it's theoretical limits. Tires harden with age and also lose tread seriously compromising their grip. Sure, tires for these cars can be expensive, but compared to bent sheetmetal or people, they're much cheaper.

Cheers!
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Old 08-19-2010, 12:30 PM   #7
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The only way to know is experiment a bit, but use extreme caution, and do it on a track, or at least far from other motorists, pedestrians, and solid objects to hit. ( and police)

My thoughts, based on my '06 2.7 w/ PSM, your '01 may be slightly different. I find the PSM very intrusive in slow speed corners, 1st and 2nd gear, such as pulling out of a stop street with heavy throttle application. It cuts the throttle much too early, though this is great if your not paying attention, and for cold conditions with summer tires.

With PSM off: with a short wheelbase, and lots of rear traction, when you do get the rear to step out, you have to have quick hands, while avoiding over-correction. The most important part is to also take that correction out quickly. If you leave in opposite lock too long, it will snap back with a vengence, and lead to an out-of-control tank-slapper!
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:49 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the great replies, interesting to read... I fully intend to try a track day or similar - I'd like to see how the car handles on the limit - and over it - so i know what to expect...

I've had a few rear wheel drive cars, some like the MX5 was incredibly controllable when the rear broke away, others coulkd easily snap and send you into a 180o spin! I dont intend to find out the hard way on the roads!

Anyone reccommend a track day, or course which would be good to attend?

Thanks!
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Old 08-20-2010, 08:16 AM   #9
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I was going to mention tires too. It's been covered, so I won't.

You might want to look into doing some autocross too. I've found that autocrossing my Boxster puts me at the limit on almost every corner, where at the track I'm a bit more reserved about pushing it to the absolute limit. If you screw up in autocross, you drive over some cones and blow your lap. If you screw up on the track, it could screw up your car. However, you will LOVE your car on the track.

Please stop 4-wheel drifting on the street. Real life is not "The Fast and the Furious."
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Old 08-20-2010, 11:16 AM   #10
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I drove my car in the snow in an open parking lot when I first got it. I was very impressed by how predictably the car would slide. I've been comfortable ever since.

Not sure that is an option for you in the UK.
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Old 08-20-2010, 11:28 AM   #11
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There is a highway exit ramp near my house that I take almost everyday. It has a declining radius. It's a terribly akward turn that I haven't figured out how to handle gracefully yet. But half the fun is trying something new each time (brake-don't brake, 2nd gear early, 3rd gear the whole way, etc.).

Good luck with your car.
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Old 08-20-2010, 05:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrMagica
Anyone reccommend a track day, or course which would be good to attend?

Thanks!
If you are in the UK, which I think you are, Bedford would be the best place for you. It's purpose built for track days with loads of run off - almost (but not quite!) impossible to stack you car there. Do a full day on the long GT circuit. I recommend booking through:

www.focusedevents.com

There are also a number of track days that use old airfields. These again are very safe, but driving around cones / lines is not as satisfying as a proper track. Also, airfields have very harsh surfaces and will eat your tyres super fast.
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Old 08-20-2010, 08:50 PM   #13
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It has been said a couple of times already, but I think the importance of tyres cannot be stressed enough.

My Box S does not have TC, and for the life of me I cannot understand how anyone would need it (except in snow or icy roads). Of course it is possible to stop at a T-junction, dial up 4k rpm, turn the wheel and drop the clutch. Why anyone would do this to their beloved Porsche is beyond me? If your tyres are good, and suspension is in sound order, it is really very difficult to get these cars out of shape.

On the track it is a different story, but anyone pushing these cars on the street to induce a 4 wheel slide is just wreckless, and inducing a rear wheel tailslide is just idiotic.

Please drive sensibly people.
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Old 08-21-2010, 01:37 AM   #14
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inducing a rear wheel tailslide is just idiotic.
I think that's a bit strong. It totally depends on factors including your skill level and road conditions. For most people most of the time, it's a bad idea. But in the right conditions it can be safe and fun to play with the rear a little and at no risk to oneself or others.
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