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Old 03-31-2006, 08:15 AM   #1
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Boxster 1st Impressions

I've had my 2000 S for about 2 weeks now. I though it might be useful to anyone considering a Boxster if I gave some of my first impressions. Plus, I figured I'd make my first post something other than a question.

I've only owned Japanese cars before buying the Boxster. I grew up on Rx-7s and have owned two 1st gens. I also have an Impreza and Integra. I've also had experience with a couple of air cooled 911s. My impressions are within this reference frame.

The engine is great! There seems to be plenty of torque, which surprised me somewhat considering the 911s I've driven and some of the magazine reviews on the car. It's no muscle car, of course, but it really has impressive punch from 2500 or so RPM up. High RPM power is very linear and very strong. Compared to some turbo 3rd gen Rx-7s I've driven, the power feels comparable. It's certainly more than enough power for me.

I'm a little disappointed by the engine note, however. I'll never forget the first time I heard my uncle start up and rev his '77 911. It was almost a religious experience, that low, semi loud rumble is missing from this car. It does have a nice angry growl as the revs get over 4000 rpm though, when the secondary runners take over.

The handling is phenomenal, I've never owned a car with this kind of grip and balance. Settling from a transient manouver is very fast and responsiveness of the chassis is very satisfying. The ride is quite reasonable too. I'm a little bewildered by the lack of a limited slip differential though.

My Rx-7 is less than 2400 pounds and stiffened, I think that helps it to provide more feedback through the chassis and steering, but the Boxster is still very communicative. At lower speeds though, the Boxster is noticeably more numb than when it's exercising harder. The Rx-7 by contrast is always feeding you a lot of information. The early 911s that I've driven are also far superior in lower speed feedback. Weight, big tires (relatively) and power steering I think have factors in this.

The other thing that is clear is that you'd have to be crazy or suicidal to explore the Boxster's handling limits on the street. The levels are just far too high. It's another difference from my Rx-7 and Integra, both are easy and relatively safe to push hard just because the limits are considerably lower. In some respects, you can have more fun on the street with a car that has lower limits.

The interior quality is a mixed bag. In Japanese cars, you either have a fairly high quality interior (Acura) where the materials feel expensive and have high quality tactile feedback, or you have a lower quality feel (Subaru) where the plastics aren't quite as nice and the switches feel somewhat lower budget. The thing they have, though, is consistency.

This makes the Boxster kind of different, the overall impression is that it's quite nice and the materials are of a high quality, but some of the switches and knobs feel like they wouldn't even make it in a Subaru. The headlight knob for example, has some of the worst tactile feel that I've ever experienced, even compared to some GM rental car's I've had. I'm afraid I'll break this thing just by using it. Some other seemingly low rent parts are the wind deflector, the sliding doors for the cubby over the engine compartment, and the cover over the passenger side airbag. The levers for releasing the trunks, by contrast, are beautiful aluminum pieces that are a pleasure to operate. The cigarette lighter is similarly expensive feeling and has a nice, damped operation.

I'm a mechanical engineer and I understand why this happens. During product development different people design the various parts and cost constraints are different for each part and can change with time. But product consistency should be high on any manufacturer's list.

The exterior of my car is in really nice condition. The paint is shiney and the orange peel is fairly minimal. I've seen factory paint jobs that weren't as nice.

It's cool to look at the under side of the car just to see the full chassis belly plate. It's something they don't NEED to have on their street cars but they do it anyway.

So enough rambling. I love the car, it's the best car I've ever owned, for sure, and hopefully will provide entertainment for many years to come.


Last edited by blue2000s; 03-31-2006 at 08:20 AM.
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Old 03-31-2006, 08:29 AM   #2
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One other thing to remember about Porsche engineering is the fixation on keeping weight to a minimum. Cheesey trim is sometimes a reflection of this.
The Box can't really be termed a lightweight, but at about 2,900 lbs it could be a lot worse.
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Old 03-31-2006, 08:53 AM   #3
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great first post! you sound like an excellent candidate for a quaiffe LSD and a porsche sport exhaust (PSE).
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Old 03-31-2006, 09:38 AM   #4
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Porsche obssess over weight?

I don't think you've been talking to many 911 drivers.

Even 2004 Boxster actually weighed more than the CaymanS. The new P-car lineup seems to be rectifying the situation as all of the lines from Boxster to Turbo seem to be lighter than their predecessors but that's just putting them back where they should have been all along. I mean how serious can you be about weight when you stick a 50 pound OEM battery in the car when a 15 pound Braile will free up all that extra weight? 30 pound stock 18" wheels??

The cheap interior materials is a clever sheme to get the Porsche owner to pay a nice premium for the materials that should be standard. I don't think its weight saving issue. Black gauges and no silver trim rings in an already Porky $80K 996 Turbo?? Porsche seemed aware that most of its buyers will never go anywhere near a track/autocross so threw out their weight concerns but since getting pounded by other cars like the Zo6 they'll surely go further with the weight reductions on future models. They'll have to either add more power (in a hurry) or lose weight if they are to avoid future poundings like the one in last month's Motor Trend.
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Old 03-31-2006, 10:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronzi
One other thing to remember about Porsche engineering is the fixation on keeping weight to a minimum. Cheesey trim is sometimes a reflection of this.
The Box can't really be termed a lightweight, but at about 2,900 lbs it could be a lot worse.
There's a difference between designing something for light weight and designing something for low cost. The Turn signal stalk and headlight swich just feel cheap, not light weight. Hondas are better executed in that respect. It's really odd that these parts are on the same car that has the elegant aluminum door release handles and armrest handles. It's disappointing in the Boxster but inexcuseable in the 911.

Last edited by blue2000s; 03-31-2006 at 10:32 AM.
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Old 03-31-2006, 10:30 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by ljd-924se
great first post! you sound like an excellent candidate for a quaiffe LSD and a porsche sport exhaust (PSE).
I'd gladly give up the 6th gear for an LSD differential. Don't get me wrong, the transmission is really great, but 5th and 6th are so close that 5th isn't really necessary. The handling benefits of LSD, on the other hand, are very evident to me. It seems like a marketing manouver more than an engineering one.
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Old 03-31-2006, 11:10 AM   #7
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"Porsche obssess over weight?

I don't think you've been talking to many 911 drivers."

Absolutely. They have always been weight-conscious in the design of their cars.
For a couple of reasons. One, with most of their cars they have been laboring under the handicap of limited power, traceable to limited engine size. Two, the weird rear-engine design of the 356 and 911 cars made it necessary to whittle every extra ounce out of the car, particularly in the rear end, i.e., the engine , to reduce oversteer.
At one time the weight-consciousness was called Porsche's "alloy lug nut syndrome". It was not a joke. My old '81 911 did have alloy lug nuts. It was a $30,000 car when new in 1981, but had the world's cheapest piece of carpet in the luggage compartment. But it weighed absolutely nothing.
Newer cars have had to meet safety regulations, which adds weight, plus the relentless desire of customers for more comfort and conveniece features.
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Old 03-31-2006, 01:55 PM   #8
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You are definately right about the turn signal stalk blue. That thing is a piece of s**t! I think KIA would be too embarassed to put that in to their cars.
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Old 04-01-2006, 01:40 AM   #9
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Porsche obviously puts a high priority on keeping the car on the light side. I mean just compare the Boxster to it's main competitors (i.e. Audi TT, BMW Z4, Mercedes SLK, Honda S2000). I think the S2000 is the only one that is lighter and Honda just like Porsche is a company that likes to keep their cars on the trimmer side of things.
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Old 04-01-2006, 03:17 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Zerostatic
Porsche obviously puts a high priority on keeping the car on the light side. I mean just compare the Boxster to it's main competitors (i.e. Audi TT, BMW Z4, Mercedes SLK, Honda S2000). I think the S2000 is the only one that is lighter and Honda just like Porsche is a company that likes to keep their cars on the trimmer side of things.
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Old 04-01-2006, 05:57 AM   #11
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Agreed

I bought my 2001 Boxster in January and I confirm your first impressions are very similar to mine. I also came from driving Japanese cars and when I'm driving my Boxster I'm still amazed how far it can be pushed in a turn. I'm hoping to get it on a track this spring/summer to really explore the limit.

Another first impression I've had, if you can call it that, is that I'm glad I bought a used one. If I had bought a new one I think I'd be a lot more careful with it. With this used Boxster I feel like I can have some fun with it.
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Old 04-01-2006, 05:59 AM   #12
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The Elise?
The Elise is in a different catagory. No comparison. Pure track car that BARELY makes it on the street versus a car that can provide comfort, reliability, performance, and more without flinching.
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Old 04-01-2006, 06:13 AM   #13
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I would sep the two issues, that is one of weight reduction and interior cheeziness.

IMHO, some interior pieces and the overall lack of content in a 911 is unacceptable in a car of this price. Just the lack of an acceptable sounds system in the car is appalling.

Moreover, no one could accuse a 911 Cab of being light. Fact is, the 911 has been getting heavier for decades. I believe they started out at just over 2000 lbs.

The point of the 911 getting hammered by other sports cars is certainly true. Hey, I would love to see the 911 Turbo run the AMLS GT1 class but with the cars in there now, that's not gonna happen.

To wit, at Sebring this year, the corvette C6R beat the Porsche-Penske PROTOTYPE racer.

Ouch!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well now, what was the question?
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Old 04-01-2006, 01:59 PM   #14
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The Elise is in a different catagory. No comparison. Pure track car that BARELY makes it on the street versus a car that can provide comfort, reliability, performance, and more without flinching.
It certainly wouldn't take 800 more pounds to make it quieter and softer. As for reliability, what can beat a Toyota engine?

The reports on the Esprit replacement so far sound like it's going to be a pretty light car as well.


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