Old Sports Car or New Sports Car?Posted by: David Hurth / Category: Commentary, Porsche, Road Test
A couple of weeks ago, I was able to drive the new Porsche 911 (991) Carrera S and the new Porsche Boxster S (the drives were setup by the great folks at the Santa Barbara Automotive Group and you can read more about driving both cars here). Now my daily driver is a 1983 Porsche 944 and the experience in the Porsche 911 Carrera S totally blew away the experience I get in my Porsche 944. However, in 1983 the Porsche 944 was the base model, so the new Porsche Boxster S, although not the lowest powered Boxster, may offer a better comparison.
On a track there would be no comparison between these two cars. The new Porshce Boxster S is much quicker than my old 944, with a 0-62MPH time of just 4.8 seconds versus a 0-60MPH of at best 7.8 seconds in the 944 (this time is according to and old Motor Trend test, but the official Porsche time was 8.3 seconds). While my personal Porsche 944 may be a bit quicker due to weight reduction, a short shifter and a throttle response cam (other than this, it is currently stock), it still wouldn’t be able to keep up with the Boxster. Perhaps in the corners it could keep up (although I think the Boxster would still be a bit faster), but in the straights it would not stand a chance.
However, on the road (where most people will spend most of their time), I didn’t really notice the performance difference. Perhaps this is because the new Boxster is so well balanced and even with the top down was a pretty quiet ride (unless pushed). The only way I could really tell it was quicker was by watching the speedometer, but because the ride was so good, it didn’t give as many queues to how fast I was going. The car I drove had PDK and did not have the sports exhaust option, so if it was a 6-speed manual and had the sports exhaust I think it would have fixed this issue (so, if you are going to buy a new Porsche Boxster S, get it in the 6-speed manual and get the sports exhaust). Even when I had it in the “sport” mode I still didn’t get very many queues to the speed. That is until I stepped on the gas a bit more and then the engine came alive. Unfortunately, on the road you can’t do that too often, and since the car is so quick it didn’t require too many revs to move it on the street.
This is in contrast to driving my old Porsche 944. Due to the weight reduction (I’ve removed pretty much all of the sound deadening, the radio, the rear seats, currently most of the headliner, although a new one is going to go back in) and the throttle response cam the car pulls better than a stock 1983 Porsche 944 would. As a result you still get a feeling that you are passing pretty much everyone on the road and because of the lack of sound deadening you can hear the engine and exhaust sound very well, even while idling. Partly due to the manual steering the 944 communicates everything on the road as you drive, giving you a very driver centered experience (this is something lost in the Boxster due to the electronic steering). When you couple this with the 5-speed manual and you get quite an experience. One issue with early 944s is the position of the steering wheel is a little low for most people and you can’t adjust it (something that isn’t an issue in the new Boxster).
Now my Porsche 944 is a project car, and as such there is a lot of “in-process” items. So, it doesn’t give you the nice interior that you get in the new Porsche Boxster (at least not yet). But the feel of the car is still very good, even in its current condition. Of course the car is old and currently has a little over 150,000 miles on the original engine. I’ve owned the car for four years and the only major problem I’ve had so far is the clutch going out. If this happens to you in a 944, be prepared to spend between $800 – $2,000 depending on if you do the work yourself or if you have a shop do it (I had a mechanic friend of mine do it and it cost about $1,200).
The new Porsche Boxster is like a precision tool that is really perfect for everyday use. The engine has quite a sound when pushed a bit, but calms right down for everyday driving. While both cars offer an open air experience, the experience is much better in the new Porsche Boxster S. As an everyday driver for someone that wants a civilized sports car that offers incredible performance when you want it, it is hard to find a better car than the Porsche Boxster S. If fitted with the right options it can give you that true sports car feeling when you want it to, or just a fun in the sun drive.
With my Porsche 944, you can’t turn off the true sports car feeling. It isn’t as relaxed a car to drive (although in stock form, it can be), but is always a lot of fun. There is a simpleness to the car that is kind of refreshing and it makes you feel like it is going fast all of the time (even though the new Toyota Camry next to you could dust you from stop light to stop light). Where both cars are at their best is in the corners. Both are so well balanced, but the 944 requires small corrections as you drive it in the corners. Contrast this to how the Boxster allows you to just set your line and drive quickly through the corners.
On the styling front, I have to say the new Porsche Boxster just looks more like a Porsche. Its new more masculine styling and big side air intakes make it a real looker and from the front it resembles a Porsche 911 (at least to the average non-Porsche guy). With the Porsche 944, the styling is very 80′s, but in a good way. It gives the car a cool retro look, however, most non-car guys (and many non-Porsche guys) will not know that it is a Porsche unless they read it on the car. You get a lot of people asking you what it is (I’ve had people ask if it was a Corvette or a Datsun Z car), so it is not as recognizable as a Porsche as the Boxster.
Both cars are amazing in their own way, but what is better Old or New? The simple answer is the New car is better in nearly every way. Having said this, the old car requires that you use more of the car to drive which creates a more immersive driving experience. Where the new car is hardly sweating to pass a slower car, the old car requires thought and planning to use as much of the cars available power to get around the car. I personally find myself wanting to be in the older car, even though the newer car is just plain better. I guess I personally just prefer older cars a bit more.
How about you? What would you choose Old or New? Let us know in the comments below.
Special thanks to the Santa Barbara Automotive Group for setting up the drive in the new Porsche Boxster S and the new Porsche 911 Carrera S.
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