June 2, 2011

Porsche Mash-up

                We recently noticed a ’98 Boxster sitting on a used car lot.  After a couple of weeks of driving past it daily, we had to give it a look.  The dealer had it listed at a little under $14,000 with about 68,000 miles. 
                The 2.5L straight six made a good noise when started.  The sales guy didn’t quite know how to get the roof down, but we figured it out.  The roof is electronic and not overly difficult to get up or down.  If you happened to drive into a rain storm, stopping would probably be the longest part of the process to getting the roof up (12 seconds once stopped). 
                The engine when new could turn out 201hp.  The ’98 that we drove wasn’t in peak condition.  The gearbox was problematic.  We actually ground the gears to get it in third leaving the lot.  In the Audi and Volkswagen that we have driven recently, shifting was subconscious.  In the Boxster a lot of concentration went into finding the proper gear.  We also had a hard time performing smooth shifts. 
The old body style, the new one was released in '05.
                The worst part of the Boxster is the foot rest next to the clutch.  It would get in the way of every shift.  My average-size twelve would slip off the clutch pedal every six shifts or so.  I would have to make sure that I could get the car in neutral before it slipped.  The Boxster and I were just not a good fit. 
                The overall performance of the Boxster was okay.  It didn’t compare to the M3 or S4 that we drove recently, but then again not much does.  Other than the clutch crowding, the worst part was feeling that my forehead was sticking over the top of the windshield.  The seat couldn’t go back any further and there was no chance of reclining the seat for more room.  We have maintained for years that tall people aren’t cool in the sense that Michael Buble isn’t cool.  Sinatra (the epitome of cool) was only 5’7”.  Then again the Boxster isn’t a very cool car.  It’s great and flashy, but alongside a true sports car the Boxster looks like a Hot Wheels car.  Overall, we were disappointed.  Hoping for a true sports car and only getting a look-a-like.
We have been recommended to try the mid-engine Cayman instead, and we are definitely going to try and find one.

In the spirit of fairness we tried to find a used Porsche that we did liked and we found it in a 2005 Cayenne S.  The Cayenne had about 45,000 miles on it and was in pretty good shape.  Some of the air vents in the back were pretty beat up; we blamed the kids.  The outside looked great other than the fact that it’s a Cayenne and really not much to look at in the first place.  The Cayenne is like the slightly overweight girl that a group of girls lets hang out with them to help them all feel better about themselves.  911’s, Caymans, Boxters are the hot girls, if you needed it explained further.  The Cayenne is hard to look at for long periods of time.  It won’t cause blindness like the sun, but it will make you wonder where it came from. 
The low end torque or the speed with which the Cayenne accelerates isn’t there.  For a sports car brand SUV we expected the Cayenne to jump to meet our every need.  While trying to turn left across two lanes of traffic, we almost pick a hole in traffic that was too small.  The Cayenne hesitated scaring the salesman and us!  We are rarely nervous in vehicles, but this is definitely a time where we checked our pants afterward. 
The ride of this particular Porsche was incredible.  The ride of our resident Denali is almost always a smooth ride.  After driving over some of the same sections of road that the Cayenne had just visited our collective eyes were opened.  The Denali felt like a true truck chassis, while the Porsche glided across all of the cracks and potholes caused by the ice and snow.  Seriously, this caused us to have some time spent trying to figured out what happened to the Denali.  We stopped and checked all four tires looking for holes, flats, or bad wear patterns. This was a wakeup call.  We had to conclude that nothing was wrong with the Denali and that the Cayenne in fact was just that smooth a ride.
The steering wheel of the Cayenne had so many buttons.  It got a point where we just hit buttons to see what would happen.  The “econ” button near the air conditioning is a bad button to hit when it’s approaching 90 degrees outside.  We never activated the four wheel drive.  There were two switches for using the triptronic transmission, but after ten minutes we just hated them.  Paddle-shifters are our basic idea of the devil, but the switches for the triptronic are 1000x worse than the paddles.  What is worse than the devil?  1000x worse?  Who writes this stuff?
Other than the plethora of buttons, the interior of the Cayenne was great.  80’s styled nuclear bunkers have less buttons…  Leather everywhere, high quality plastics, and the realization that you’re sitting in a Porsche all come together to make the Cayenne enjoyable.  The ride was so utterly brilliant that we have thought about heading back over to try and have another ride in it; this time looking for the worst road possible.  The next time by though, this Cayenne was gone.

Not our usual reviews, but who could resist a couple of Porsches ripe for the picking.  Since we drove them, the Cayenne is already gone.  We haven't checked on the Boxster in awhile though.

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