Category Archives: Porsche

2002 Porsche Carrera 4S Coupe (407)

Overview:

Life is good and I enjoyed driving the 2002 Porsche Carrera 4S Coupe this week. So if Porsche is pronounced Poor-Sha then I suspect Coupe is pronounced Coop-ay. For the record the 911 was introduced in Europe in 1963. That was a good year for other things too, but it wasn’t until 1965 the 911 came to America.

How do I love thee, let me count the ways. Well, it’s a sports car, it’s fast, it corners like the Materhorn ride at Disneyland, it is timelessly beautiful – need I go on? A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and off to some romantic spot in my Por-Sha. I wonder if Dr. Porsche pronounced it that way?

In any case it’s what the Doctor ordered for relief of the humdrum of ordinary. So I took this puppy up north, not quite to Alaska, and got the feel for how it would behave on those back roads that wind marvelously through the countryside in this wonderful land of OZ.

My friend Mark says this is a performance car you can drive every day of the week. True enough, but if you must drive the freeways in this country to get to work, forget shifting 2,000 times to go 25 miles, buy it with the automatic. Or consider a Lexus, Cad STS or a Jaguar XJ8 and relax to some dreamy music on the CD without the noise you get going through the gears. It will take just as long to get to the office, but you won’t mind it so much. No road rage allowed, none needed when you kick back and relax. Pull the Porsche out on weekends or better yet, during the week while others are not on the highways.

Handling & Performance:

Outstanding. Although, I was never totally confident in this all wheel drive since I spun out in one at Willow Springs race track with friend David Murray in the number two seat. I entered turn number three like David had on some lap’s before my turn at the wheel, but race drivers are professional and me, well, I like to go fast but don’t do it for a living. Before David could grab the wheel to help me out, we had already done a 360. No harm, no foul. Back to first gear and off we went into turn five. I think we spun through turn four.

Passing is no problem and you’ll go 0-60 in a scant 4.5 seconds without breathing hard, but your heart rate will climb. That’s a good thing because it replaces all forms of heart exercise.

Styling:

The 4S means all wheel drive but the rear fenders say it should be Turbocharged. The redesign for this year includes a slick looking front end, and it’s the wider rear panels and taillights that gives it the look of the $114,000 911 Turbo model. Beauty is only skin deep however and even though this is not the Turbo, you don’t really need it with 320 natural horsepower H6. The Air scoops look cool but they also greatly increase airflow to the cooling system.

Fit and Finish:

Typical Porsche, typical German – always precise.

Cost:

Way too much for my budget and not enough for the engineering you are buying. Way too much for transportation, but OK for the driving enjoyment for the sports car enthusiast.

Consumer Recommendation:

Be sensible, buy a Saturn for $9,000 and spend the other $77,000 on vacations around the world, for the two of you, each year for 11 years. You do the math. It’s insane to spend this much money for a car unless you are Donald Trump. But for you Don, get the Rolls and relax.

The Competition: * (see ranking below)

(1) Chevrolet Corvette $42-50,000, (2) Dodge Viper 72,000, (3) Acura NSX $89,000, (4t) Porsche 911  $67-179,000, (4t) Lotus Esprit $88,525, (5) Mercedes-Benz SL Class $85,990, (6) BMW Z8 $130,000, (7) Ferrari 360 $141-171,000, (8) Ferrari 550 Maranello $213,990, (9) Aston Martin V12 Vanquish $222,950, (10) Lamborghini Diablo $274,900.

* – Ranking is based on cost, cu ft, number of features, warranty and gas mileage.

Good News:

Great engineering, fast, fun to drive, and good resale value.

Bad News:

Expensive toy, hard to get in and out of, small cargo areas, albeit a set of golf clubs does fit in the rear compartment,

Standard Equipment:

3.6 liter H6 water cooled 320HP engine, diagnostic system, knock sensor, double inertial flywheel, 6-speed manual trans, hydraulic clutch, power steering, front and rear stabilizer bars, speed activated rear spoiler, 4-piston fixed allow caliper (vented and perforated disc) anti locking brakes, dual front and side airbags, stability management system, electronic gas pedal and automatic brake differential, power windows, heatable windshield washer nozzles, carbon filtered vent system, all leather full power heated front seats, central locking system, immobilizer anti-theft system, lockable storage compartment, climate control, power heated mirrors, power sliding roof with tilt, AM/FM cassette radio and Advanced Technic Package (includes special headlights, washers, Bose sound system and 6 changer CD player).

Gas Stats:

17 City and 24 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $85,645.
Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2002 – An Automotive Love Affair

2002 Porsche Boxster S (400)

Overview:

This weeks test vehicle was the 2002 Porsche Boxster S that transports you to heaven if you love to drive. There is a God and that cloud does have a silver lining.

There is a little bit of the rebel in us all and so for me it is the “Boxster” Rebellion. If you have a need for speed and outstanding handling this is sure to make you break a few speed laws. Fortunately I get to drive most cars on the racetrack, but I must say it is near impossible to keep a car like this at or under the posted limits.

You know, when I first drove this car shortly after its introduction, I thought it would just be another 924 or 914. A series of attempts to market a less expensive version of this very nice sports car. But it wasn’t. It has its own personality as if it weren’t even a Porsche. Like you could put a Ferrari badge on it and fool some folks.

In his book “The Distance to the Moon”, James Morgan describes his travels across the United States in the very first Boxster. He said people treated him like he was a visitor from another planet. But mostly he got lots of thumbs up. Since its introduction it seems to have continue to attract the attention of car lovers everywhere. Another indication that it is a winner is how much it has been copied.

I like the car as much today as I did when I drove it in 1997. Well, one out of three attempts to produce a less expensive Porsche isn’t bad I suppose.

On the other hand, the price “has” jumped about $14,000 since my first review when the price for the 1998 was: MSRP = $39,980 plus $3,235 for the sport package. Porsche is in business to make money and it stands to reason that you get what the traffic will bear.

And you say, how did Boxster get that name? Well it derives from the “boxer” engine design and “roadster” from the open, two-seat design. It is, manufactured in Stuttgart, in the south of Germany. For you trivia buffs, “Automobile” is from the Greek autos, “self” and Latin mobilis, “movable”.

Handling & Performance:

You’ve heard of the Grim Reaper, well this is the Rim Gripper. Curves will never seem so welcomed as you drive this Boxster S and fall in love all over again. As we all know, relationships come and go, but this Boxster is there when you need it and it doesn’t talk back.

Styling:

This Boxster promises to be a fixture on the design scene for a long time to come. The mid-engine affords provision for two cargo areas, forward and aft. They are small but even golf clubs will fit in the rear compartment.

Fit and Finish:

Porsche. What can I say, it isn’t a Jaguar XK8, but it’s twenty to thirty grand less to buy.

Conveniences:

The convertible top is “Tops”. You gotta love how easy it is to put the top up and down in about 16 seconds.

Cost:

I guess it’s still an ok buy and I did expect it would go up after its introduction in 1997. But $14,000 plus in that time seems a bit excessive. I doubt Porsche was selling at a loss in the beginning? In any case, I gave it a “Buy” recommendation then because it was well priced. Unlike the Chrysler limited production Prowler that was selling about twice the window sticker I think you can buy this Boxster closer to the MSRP.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you are in the market for a “TWO SEATER” with room for golf clubs, tennis rackets and a small overnight bag for two this is the ticket. It’s an “E” ride and a class act. On the other hand it is the most expensive of competition listed in order of price (1)-(8).

Manufacturer Recommendations:

Thanks. We love what you’ve done.

The Competition: *

(8) Porsche Boxster S $57,825 , (4) Audi TT $31-40,000 , (5) BMW M Roadster $45,990 ,(6) BMW Z3 $31-38,000, (3) Honda S 2000 $32,400,  (2) Mazda MX5 Miata $21-26,000 , (7) Mercedes Benz SLK $39-55,000 , (1) Toyota MR2 Spyder $23,735 .

Good News:

Affordable special styling in a sports car with great performance.

Bad News:

Price is at the high end of the scale with lots of good competition.

Standard Equipment:

3.20 liter 250 horsepower 6-cylinder water cooled mid-engine, two seat convertible, 6-speed manual trans, power steering, speed activated rear spoiler, 4-wheel antilock disc brakes, dual front and side airbags, fog lights, power top, anti-theft system, leather, climate control & power heated mirrors.

Gas Stats:

18 City and 26 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $57,825.

* – Cars are ranked in order of price alone instead of according to my preference considering all captions.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2002 – An Automotive Love Affair

1999 Porsche Cabriolet Carrera C4 (2PCP)

Overview:

Hey Joe:

I was almost afraid to welcome the newest edition of Porsche’s 911. As I slid into the slightly more generous cockpit I felt only slightly lost. Some of you will notice a change in the dash immediately, and a general improvement in ergonomics, but I have spent some time in the marvelous Boxster and sitting there I had visions of it instead. Nonetheless I’ve wanted a 911 ever since they hit the streets 33 years ago.

Well Mr. Cobb:

I’m sure many have a passion and desire to own the Porsche image, and I’m always amazed by how awed folks are by this car. It’s just another hunk of metal, right? You tested the Coupe and I tested the Cabriolet. The Cab is wayyy Cooler, because sports cars should be convertible. I restored a 1955 Speedster some years ago and although this car has come a long way they’ve done it while retaining that classic Porsche look and feel.

Technical

The911 have always been air-cooled and out back. Alas Porsche has finally reached a plateau in the development of the opposed air-cooled six, but its still out back! Noise, emissions, and fuel economy issues became nearly insurmountable. This liquid cooled, vario timed four-cam, four-valve, flat six is quieter, more efficient, and more powerful. In the end, aren’t all high performance sports cars measured by their engines?

This Porsche is first to incorporate the new stability system PSM (Porsche Stability Management), but we know it really means Porsche Saves Mavilia. But this can be good for any driver myself included, but its not quite right yet.

Porsche’s Vario-Cam (variable cam timing) helps make this engine extremely flexible and more powerful than its predecessors. When you drop the clutch and stand on it, the engine pulls hard to the rev-limiter without hesitation and the power just tapers off as the tach approaches the redline. WOW.

Exciting says it all for me and you’re right that the stability feature will do a lot for those of us who only think we are race drivers.

However we’ll still get in trouble by driving too fast. In fact I did manage to spin out at Willow Springs racetrack in an all wheel drive model while getting a lesson from your fellow race driver David Murry. Now I know why you guys don’t like to ride on a track with guys like me. I was doing great right up till I went into turn number three way too fast. Before I could say “Oh #@*t”, and David could reach over and grab the wheel we’d done a 360 in the middle of the track.

Everything you said about the engine must be true because it is so impressively strong when you mash down on the throttle.

Features & Design:

German car makers have a pension for silly

radios and this Porsche is no exception. Also as I searched for the keyhole for the ignition, I was disappointed to find it still on the left side of the steering column.

The standard seats are still OK, but lack in overall lateral restraint. This hasn’t changed over the years and the optional sport seats are too much.We agree totally on the non-user friendly radios etc., and we also agree on the ignition key location. They moved the gas filler to the passenger side and leave the ignition on the left. What sense does that make? Hello Porsche. Put the gas filler back on the driver side and the ignition key on the right side of the steering column.

Seating is comfortable, but getting in and out is tiresome especially for older dudes who coincidentally are the folks with enough shekels to buy one. I suggest Porsche take a look at the seat adjustments in the Corvette. Just push a button or two and the seat hugs you for any occasion. Rather, nearly every “driving” occasion.

Performance & Handling:

The steering still has that razor sharp feel that only a couple of manufacturers can approach, and I still give the nod to the Porsche as the worlds best. Just the right amount of power assist without any loss in feel.

Porsche’s all wheel drive system is beyond reproach, and it gives you all the thrills of a two-wheel drive car until rear wheel speed exceeds the front wheel speed.

PSM computer works quickly by translating the car’s motion and grip levels and will apply brake or throttle as needed to keep you going in the same general direction.

To me there is no finer feeling than entering a corner with too much speed, and still get through. Done right the car will rotate on entry, but as you catch it with steering, mashing the throttle will bring the front tires on line and yank you out of the corner. No fuss no muss, just another day at the office. Incredible!Price, I love speed and love the feeling you get from the Porsche that is like being on “Rails”. I also can relate to your explanation of how it all works but execution is another thing altogether. It’s like playing golf. I know what to do but have trouble making it happen. I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time so remembering everything is impossible. To do what you suggest sounds easier than it is to actually do.

The manual transmission shifter is great and you know where you are most of the time, but if you don’t want to be real busy in around town driving I don’t suggest the 6-speed.

Overall, this is a car even the average driver will appreciate the engineering that helps them “enjoy the ride”..

Pricing:

It’s always hard to look at the price of a car and base a purchase on that because today I am numb from what an auto costs. It seems like all bidding starts at $20,000! With this in mind you start to appreciate all that Porsche puts into one of their cars for the money. If you can blow dry your hair at home, the coupe that I drove will leave a cool $4000 in your jeans over the Cab!A guy I used to work with had a favorite saying that “the only thing that money won’t buy is poverty”. At a base retail price of $74,460, the 911 Cabriolet is sure to open your purse wide. Is it worth it? Well, if the price tag doesn’t scare you this is a high performance car you can drive to work every day. I wouldn’t say that for the Dodge Viper, Ferrari or even the Corvette for that matter.

Good News:

Even though the edge has been removed, the 911 has been improved in every way.

You can turn off the PSM system.It’s a driver, handles great, fun to drive and will make you younger than you are, helpful speed indicator, and exceptional convertible top design.

Bad News:

Console and radio overly complicated, seats could be better, Boxster nose.Pricey, makes you want to drive much too fast, hard to get in and out of, instruments not user-friendly, key and gas filler on the wrong sides. Silent turn indicator.Make no mistake that my memories of a 911 have been compromised. This water cooled 911 is not the same tightly focused car of yesterday, yet I am a total convert. I secretly hope that Porsche will fix the nose to give the 911 back its own visual identity.

Now Porsche, exactly where is the C-4 with turbo?

Green FlagIf money is no object the styling and engineering is among the best available in the world.

Quality doesn’t get any better at any price. Definitely worth the price of admission.

Green Flag

The competition: 

Acura NSX $84,000 – $88,000, Aston Martin DB7 $130,000 – $148,000, Chevrolet Corvette $38,320 – $45,320, Dodge Viper $67,225 – $69,725, Ferrari F355 $121,495 – $140,885, Lotus Esprit $84,125, Mitsubishi 3000GT $25,450 – $44,600, Toyota Supra $31,078 – $40,508.

Gas Stats:

17 City and 24 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP range $65,030 -79,920

Legend: checkered flag.gif (289 bytes)Checkered Flag =Winner in every catagory; Green Flag=If you like it, go for it; White Flag=One lap to go, too early to tell; Yellow Flag=Caution, go get a hot dog while they clean up the mess.

Your comments are welcomed. You can e-mail joe@atthewheel.com

1998 Porsche Boxster (183)

Overview:

Automobile is from the Greek autos, “self” and Latin mobilis, “movable”. But this weeks Porsche Boxster (from the “boxer” engine design and “roadster” from the open, two-seat design) comes to us from Stuttgart, in the south of Germany. Just a hop-skip-and-jump over the Alps into Italy. Kind of like driving to Vegas for the weekend. Unfortunately I didn’t have the good fortune to test it there. But I did give it the Crest Test. Wow. It’s better than sky diving guys, so leave your honey at home and live on the edge. Slide your tush into this, made for the rebel in you, Por-sha for a natural high. If you want elegant speed go for the Lexus SC 400, but if you want to get real loose, $40 grand will put you in a great ride with this Boxster. The ’98 model is the same as ’97 with the exception of the inclusion of standard front and side air bags for ’98.

Friend Merkel didn’t like the front and back MacPherson-type strut suspension that is old technology, dating all the way back to the ‘70’s. Oh well. Even so, Merkel I have to tell you, I didn’t sense any real loss of handling. I did agree with his praise of the Acura NSX’s unique double wishbone suspension and did notice the fantastic handling over the Crest. But at $90 grand the NSX should have some trick stuff, right?

For those who were disappointed with the BMW Z3 with an underpowered Miata style 4-banger, you’ll be pleased with the performance from this 2.5-liter horizontally opposed 6-cylinder engine. It puts out 201 horsepower and does 0-60 in just 6.9 seconds. They indicate a top speed of 149, but I didn’t feel close to lift off at 130.

Cool: It’s new. Everyone just has to look because it’s definitely different. It’s a Porsche that’s not a 914 attempt at affordable. Great mid-engine performance. Snuggles up with you for a comfortable mix of man and machine. Convertible top tucks away neatly, automatically, effortlessly. His and her trunks for longer distance travel storage space, even with the top down. Flat out fun to drive.

Un-cool: Poor visibility to the side and rear mostly due to roll bars and nature of convertibles in general. Loosy-goosy. That is, it’s not as solid and smooth as it could be. The clear plastic rear wind deflector rattles if you leave it in and the purpose is to cut air buffeting and quieter operation with the top down. Left side ignition key switch. Yes, I know it’s a tradition, but it’s also annoying unless you’re a southpaw. Parking brake must be set to put the top down.

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter 201 horsepower six cylinder (water cooled) mid-engine, 5-speed manual transmission, power steering, 4-wheel anti-lock 4-piston disc brakes, power top and windows, front and side air bags, anti-theft remote locking system, fog lights, climate control, heated power side mirrors and cassette stereo.

Gas Stats:

19 city and 27 highway mpg.

Pricing:

MSRP for is $39,980. The sport package adds $3,235.