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Back in í99, I was bored with my car, I had a í95 Golf VR6, I had it for a year and a half, I put a whopping an extra 60K on the clock in that time, insurance through the roof and for what. It was an automatic fast car that is only fast car once it gets past the 40mph mark, thatís not much cop for the roads in the UK. It did ease the burden of a clutch for doing those miles, It had a trip computer that used to giggle at you, if you didnít touch the accelerator, then you used to get 27mpg, driving it normally you would 25mpg, and if you wanted any fun then it was down to 18. I used to fill up every 2 days at £35 a time. The leather seats were good though, I used to find it funny when my parents were in the back and turning round the corner, I used to watch them in the rear view mirror sliding from side to side. It got it bit dangerous in the end I was paying more attention to what was happening in the rear view mirror than where the car was pointing. Fortunately, I never hit anything it though. So anyway the topic is not about the golf, its leading to the story of the Boxster. I wanted a practical car that was going to give me a bit of speed, the handling, the insurance rating, the fuel economy and something that wasnít going to lose any money through the depreciation.
I wandered of to the local car supermarket, didnít know what I wanted, and itís a good idea when this is the case, fully recommend it, I wouldnít recommend buying anything until youíve done your homework on the thing that you intend to buy. There was a section of the newer used cars, with only a view miles on the clock, then the slightly sportier cars, diesels, MPVís etc. Then I came to the what they called the marquesís section. Hundreds of Mercís, BMís, Jags, only sectioned off was the Porsche, it looked really quite lonely desperate to get to a new home.
There were 3 cars that took my fancy at the time, the Jag XK8, Merc SLK and this little Porky. Trying not to let my heart rule my mind, I asked to sit in the 3 to find out the aura of sitting in the machines rather than driving them. The Jag felt just too ďold manĒ for me, I struck that off my list straight away. I had a friend at work at the time whoís girlfriend had the SLK and I asked if he could bring it in so we could have a little spin in, so we did, the roof came down lovely, sporty little engine, we went round a roundabout, as you do and the back end stated to twitch, didnít like that much. We got back, I had a look in the boot with the roof down. How impractical was that! What a complete waste of time, the roof mechanism being a solid construction folded neatly in the boot, but with how much space left in the boot. Not much cop for going away weekend, You could fir a suitcase in the boot, but just and just the 1. Practicality saw the better side, so I started to investigate the Porsche a bit more.
Porsche had only had the car out a year, so there very few on the road, there was no friends that I could ask about this particular one, so the onus was on me. I went down to the Porsche garages locally and wanted the same kind of cash, but the spec was way off mark. I remember sitting in this Boxster, with the salesman asking how it felt, I remember answering; I donít know I havenít got past the awful plastic dash yet. It showed no comparison to the one I had seen in the car supermarket, ok, this one had 6000 miles on the clock and the one in the supermarket had 20,000. The colour of the car looked superb from the outside, a deep metallic blue with the blue roof, but what I can describe as sitting in a ford transit dashboard glaring you in the face. Do I really want to pay all that money for other people seeing what Iím in or paying the money and enjoying what Iím in? The answer to that is no (my vanity at the time not getting the better of me, this time). I called up the car supermarket and asked for a test drive, and they gave me all the spiel about I can only drive it if I was really interested, blah, blah. After that I convinced them that I was genuine, it finally revealed the first downfall of the Porky, it canít be left that long without the battery going flat. I arranged the drive with them for 2 days time, they called me up the following day saying that they couldnít get into it and had to call Porsche out to get into it which meant waiting until the following week. Fingers itching off I trot down there after reading a view articles form the magazines and reading the spec of the web site of Porsche. The specs I was quite happy with. I met the sales guy, he was a sweet guy couldnít have been no more than 21, said that he wasnít allowed to drive it, we then took it out for a spin around Harlesden, had the roof down, absolutely frozen on a winters evening, the amount of staring was unbelievable, I felt like a drug dealer, but boy was it fun. The sales guy was raring to go, we bottomed it out a few times whacked around some of the roundabouts, it seemed fast at the time, doesnít seem like that now. There is a boot in the back, one in the front, being a mid engined, confuses a lot of people even now when I do my shopping opening both ends to put my wares away. I asked him if wanted a go, the eyes of this guy just lit up. But their we have it thatís how I came to get it.
Living with it The insurance group is 18, I get fully comp with protected no claims for 750 with Tescos fantastic compared to the 1200 for the Golf, I get normally about 30 to the gallon and its just such fun to play with.
The interior of the car, as explained before, I think the standard trim of the Boxster is dreadful, I checked up with Porsche what specification was this car with before I bought it, it has the boxster red leather interior, boxster red leather trim, all doors (should I say both), dashboard, central console and gear knob all in leather. The black plastic bits are painted the same colour as the interior. It hand the traction control as well as the ABS, the sports package, lower suspension, slightly more stiff, bigger wheels (tractor tyres). It has the climate control, set the temperature and works towards it whether it be heating or cooling. Porsche crest on the wheels (an extra?) Itís the dogs go-nads in comparison the standard spec.
I put the car kit in and added a CD changer and MD player in the front (well had it fitted)
Visibility with the roof up on motorways is a bit limiting looking over your shoulder to overtake, but thatís about its limitations in that department.
The clutch, is reasonable, I felt worse, and Iíve felt better, as long as youíve not got the complete 7 hour slog in traffic jams on bank holidays I have always felt fine with it.
The brakes are fantastic, the only problem with them are as a friend of mine explained, he was on his bike, and found a squirrel running along side him in the middle lane, and managed to avoid it as it made a mad dash to the kerb. He managed to avoid conflict. A Porsche behind had the same story, with exception that the squirrel was running the other way, from the kerb to the middle of the road, the Porsche slammed on his brakes and had a motorbike coming over the top of him. My friend went back to see if he could lend a hand, only to realise when the guy jumping out of his car, said that he only got the car back from somebody else doing the same thing (Iím sure his realise eventually thatís heís the one that needs to take more precautions).
The accelerator pedal is reasonable, Iíve no complaints there.
The switches on the dash or made of a material similar to bakelite, very hard-wearing. The paint is well baked on there, so it doesnít look tatty. They are precise, they come on when you operate them and they go off when they are meant to, what more do you want.
The dash on the old layout is much better the new one. I have everything in one dial pretty much like the old mini, the one clock, speed, revs, highbeam and indicators are all in the one clock, everything else is secondary, theyíve since moved the speedo to a different dial. The digital speedo can be set to mph or kph at the flick of the switch for those going over to France (no excuses for speeding there) Thereís even an oil level indicator (only appears when you fill up with petrol) and a out of water indicator on the dash as well, also the rest of the normal stuff. There is a switch for the traction control to be turned off if you want to have a bit of fun or want to turn the car facing the other way without doing a 3 point turn (by locking the steering and flooring it).
I had it for 2 weeks and I took the girlfriend down to Cheddar for a long weekend, it doesnít like suitcases because of the awkward shape, but it took 4 sports holdalls absolutely stuffed and although the earlier models doesnít have a glove compartment theres a cubby hole behind the driver / passenger seat and plenty of room compared to a glove box. Found the big draw back passing Bristol, it attracts cops they always think youíre speeding because you have a fast car, and yes I was I went past him at 80mph, but sped up a little after thinking that he had gone, he clocked me for doing 93mph and received the points that year. First points on my licence. Bar humbug everybody was doing 90, its just that he wanted me.
The front boot takes 3 holdalls and the rear takes 1 and a few odd bits is plenty for up to a weeks stay anywhere, or 8 bags of shopping, the torsion rods holding them up is fine and no complaints there. The access to the boots are very low, so they are fantastic for the shopping of heavy loads. (Donít go to Asdas, jealous people scratch your car). Thereís a light in the front and back boot. The boots are lined as you would expect.
The roof comes down quickly, but to preserve the plastic rear screen, its best not use it when its cold and also pad the screen to its sits nicely. Its takes a little longer, but it saves you a whopping bill in 2 years time.
The handling of the car The traction control and ABS work together and very well. When I first got the car I was a little bit madder than I am today, turning in to a corner fast, if it doesnít like it, it will take the power away from you, for the first couple of mad turns I ended up pointing somewhere where I shouldnít have, tight corner, throw it in and hey presto power easies back and I ended up facing half way round the corner, embarrassing at the time, but you learn. I tried to take to its extreme, and see what it was like without the other cars on the road, so I took it to a local car-park. It was absolutely teaming down with rain; I took it up to 30mph and gave it full lock instantly. The result was the power died back without moving my foot from the accelerator, I felt the brakes being applied, I didnít do it and soon as I pointed the car in a straight line again, it just took off. I couldnít have asked for better. Brilliant control for such a clever little car.
The engine is absolute delight, it doesnít really like being cold, however, it gets over it in about 2 minutes after itís started. The engine when you first hear it almost winds up and sounds like an electric engine, very sedate, very quiet, very economical. Once passed the magic 4000 revs the vari-cam operates the second set of valves and all hell is let loose, thatís when the fun sets in, its grips the corners like thereís no limit (but there is), the throttle noise then sounds like the sports car that you thought you bought. Itís a beautiful sounds without being too noisy. One thing you will need to get used to is at 75mph the tail fin goes up (and goes back down at 56mph) there is a change to the steering, the car feels a great deal more lighter at the front as there is more force pressing down on the back. It hasnít caused any problems, but I can anticipate it could do for the first time goers in the car. It just makes you more aware of the car at these speeds.
The fastest Iíve taking around a roundabout is about 75mph, before I could feel the whole car wanting to give way being at the limit of the tyre traction.
The fastest Iíve had the car is 135mph, mine is the old 2.5l I couldnít get anymore out of it. It was rapid to get there. But its not the speed of this car which is its glory, itís the handling, not just of the road, but of itself, turn off the traction control, and what a beast underneath. The car is a train and the road are the rails, its precision as its finest.
There is a bit of a smell in the car and the tunnel gets warm if it gets pushed too hard for too long (happened just a couple of times)
Problems with the car Ive the discs and pads replaced (very expensive) The biggest con on the car is that when I had the rear plastic screen replaced, I asked how much it was for the plastic (£30) and the final bill came to nearly £500. Since then, I was advised not to bring the roof down in the car when the plastic is cold. Since last year, I believe that they have replaced the plastic screen to a glass one which would overcome this on the newer models. Not bad for 5 years, but this year sees my 60,000-mile service, timing belt change and needs its first new clutch. I think Iíll have to dig deep. The tyres cost £130 for the rear (£250 if you donít shop around), £110 for the front (£180 if you donít shop around). On hot summer days, sometimes it just doesnít want the water that its got, and it spits it out, its ask for more on the dash, so I give more, no problem!
The worst thing about this car, what car do I get next, there is no other car that I would want, I donít want the S version, whatís the point, I will get 0.1 second faster to the 60mph mark, less miles to the gallon, more insurance premiums, and 145mph instead of 135.
But it may be worth the conversion over in Germany done by Gemballa to get from 0-200kph (125mph)in 17 seconds for the 350. Around 450 PS, around 441bhp, and the top speed of the 350PS was 180mph, they donít quote what the 450 does, now that would be worth it. All done by fitting 2 turbos (where, god only knows?) Now thatís a rapid Porsche, I donít anybody that has had the conversion done, but it does look interesting. They donít quote the prices that are asking now, but 3 years ago, for the 350 would have been around the 10 grand mark. You can weigh up whether itís worth getting a new car or make the one youíve currently got better.
There is only one downfall with this car, if you do go mad in it and it does fail, it will fail only at light speed, I havenít found out when, but I wouldnít like to find out either, as the breaking point (i.e. tipping over or sliding out of control) is sufficiently higher than any other car that I have driven. It deserves and commands respect not only for the car but also for you inside it.
I dont rate the customer service very highly as they come across with the heads stuck up their backsides, and I'm sure that they would only like to deal with the old elite, but here's a car for the masses, long may they get used to it.
I did investigate the purchase of a new one, although the car is £30000 new, its very basic, to get to the spec that I have on mine, it was going to cost me £42000, thatís when I looked into the conversion options to get better value for money.
The conversions can be done in Germany
Web link www.Gemballa.com
Fantastic little car, economical, practical, fun, donít have to fit your parents in, always got an excuse not to drive when thereís more than one passenger going for a drink, pleasurable little thing that depreciates slowly.
Brief summary of the car 205 bhp mid-engines vari-cam boxer 6 engine 2.5l powering the rear wheels All the rest as above
I've had a few comments on the expense of the car, as the car gets older the prices are now falling, second hand prices are coming down to the £18000 mark for the first 2.5l engine version, but be wary of the 60,000 mile mark as thats when the big expensive service interval is or if it has passed that mileage make sure that it has had the work carried out.