Posted by: porschebahn | February 22, 2010

Base 2010 PDK Boxster a great drive? You Bet!

by Cinar Aksu – “In the trenches”

So one might ask “What’s the big deal about the headlights and stoplights and a 0.2 liter displacement jump. Is that enough to justify calling it a whole new base Boxter??”

Well I was a skeptic because I am nit-picky on gear head enthusiast related issues.

To start, I never liked the gear ratios of the 5 speed Tiptronic in my wife’s base Boxster. Fifth gear is not tall enough for great cruising fuel economy (22.1 mpg from the 2.7 liter 6 cylinder engine). Well I know many of you who are reading this are euro-car fanatics, but believe it or not, you live in the US where there are really long stretches of roads that go to all kinds of interesting and not so interesting places. And fuel economy is important even though the US is still one of the cheapest places to buy gasoline on the planet. Excluding Venezuela and Iran this country is the place to be for cruising and driving to places. With that in mind as a car fanatic I test drive everything that comes out except for mass transportation cars the likes of Corollas, Focuses and Kia whatever’s… I test them as realistically as possible where your daily experience is involved, meaning I am not a track junkie. So what’s wrong with the fifth gear? Well Porsche had to learn something from Corvette and its manual Tremec 6 speeds or the in house production 6 speed auto-Hydromantic namely the sixth gear being tall so you can extract 29-30 mpg from a 6.2 liter V8 at steady 60 mph and 28 mpg at 80mph. However the good points of her Boxster are first and fore most steering feel. I don’t know of any other car that comes close to a Boxster including all the cars I have test driven EVER, including a Gallardo and an F430 and many others I don’t care to mention. The suspension set up is unbelievable with predictably sweet over steer with effort gradually translating into a controllable drift with a pinch of under steer at low speeds(wide back tires and thinner fronts for a time honored formula that still works brilliantly well even today).

Long story short; how is this going to tie up with my 3 days with a new base Boxter? Hallelujah a service at long last to change the oil and to fix a carpet issue necessitated by our beloved Australian shepherd puking her Ziggies between the firewall and the seat on the passenger side. The smell of barf in a Porsche is – well you can imagine! Well anyways, the best Porsche dealer with the friendliest personnel anywhere in the world, aka Hilton Head Porsche was kind enough to repair that carpet as new. To my advantage or disadvantage (depending on your perspective) I ended up spending 3 ecstatic days in the new base Boxter that came with the new PDK transmission. 

Differences can be summed up as; all necessary fixes to the Tiptronic Boxster accomplished by the great engineers at Porsche.

1 – The NVH of the drive train is at least 10 times less (a decibel anybody). The drone that grew on you just because you love a hotrod in the old Boxter is not there anymore so you can hear the music and also conversate on a long cruise on I95. I believe the weights on the crankshaft and intake valves are different because high rpm spinning of the engine is freer than before all the way upwards of 7k rpm with no perceivable drop in power.

2 – It’s not direct injection but it gets 34 mpg at 60 mph and also 32 mpg at 80 mph (those are MINI Cooper territory numbers). Port injection may also explain why it lacks a clatter at idle that has became so characteristic of direct injection engines.

3 – Without launch control I clocked repeated 5.2 second 0-60 mph times just taking off from a light.

4 – The rear end is definitely tidier than the my wife’s Boxter because the over-steerability is minimized even with all electronic nannies off. I’ve never experienced chassis magic like the engineers at Porsche are able to deliver; in this case not increasing the usual seesaw relationship of over vs understeer. Viola!! Magic, reduced over and under steer in a mid-engine light weight TRUE sports car.

5 – The new PDK defaults to 1st gear when you stop (unlike the old Tiptronic auto which defaulted to 2nd) but not when you are in a parking lot strolling at sub 10 mph territories. Anyways the true blips you hear when you down shift are great. If you are a car nut you know how difficult that could be in a run of the mill manual transmission car without being jerky or the engine sounding like it is being tortured by a teenager learning to drive.

To end my opinionated car nut verbal rambling; if you are a real sports car driver I think you should never need more power, capability and refinement than this car has; remember the 1974 Porsche 911 turbo had 260 bhp…. Plus I am not aware of any mid to early 5 seconds to 60mph sports car that gets north of 32 mpg on the highway. Also on my 3 day lead foot driving my average fuel economy was 24.5 mpg… These are incredible achievements from a car that is considered the underdog of a production line of high end sport cars. It’s greener, meaner and feistier than before and a huge improvement on drive train refinement. So I am sold on the idea of a base Cayman (because I personally don’t believe a true sports car can be a convertible) with PDK of course… I do not like the feel of the cable actuated 6 speed shifter on the Caymans and Boxters – I’d take a Hurst short throw shifter on a Tremec over that any given day. But again that’s an opinion rather than a fact like the pizza commercial says…

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