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Old February 17th, 2005, 10:06 PM   #1
jkh
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Happy new Boxster owner, but who stole my torque?

Hey all,

I'm the proud owner of a 2005 Boxster S (what's the model designation, 987S?), the first Porsche I've ever owned. Up until I got the Boxster, I was driving a BMW Z3 3.0i, a fine car that you'll never get me to say a single bad thing about (it's been great fun and it'll be a sad day when and if I sell it), but it was simply time to move up to something a little more agile. The handling and driver-feedback of the 987 won me over hands-down after test-driving the Mercedes SLK-350 (both "stock" and "sport" models) and Honda S2000 (more for a point of comparison than anything else), but now that I've put 800 miles on the odometer in reasonably aggressive driving (being careful to keep the RPMs below 4000, not always easy ) I have only two criticisms of what is otherwise one of the finest sports cars I've ever driven:

1. The heater is pretty weak and doesn't create the "hot tub" of air I previously enjoyed in the Z3, making top-down driving at less than 50F less enjoyable that it could be. Not a big deal, but worth mentioning, just in case folks have any suggestions on how to improve it.

2. No torque! Sometimes you just have to pass someone in a limited amount of time, like on the windy mountain roads I drive (I live in the Santa Cruz mountains) where safe opportunities to do so are limited and need to taken advantage quickly if you don't want to be forced to choose between an unpleasant head-on collision or following some log truck doing 20mph for the next 20 miles.

Even my Z3, with its comparatively middling 225HP (in an inline six) made it comparatively easy to drop the hammer and quickly move around a slowpoke with ample margin of safety, but this 280HP Boxster S seems to want a written request and 15 minutes warning before it will really deliver any horsepower. It definitely delivers *eventually* in what would otherwise be a very satisfying, steady application of acceleration (not saying it's gutless, far from it) but when you've only got 100 yards of straight road in which to get out, safely past, and back in again before giving some soccer mom in an oncoming Volvo a coronary (and I don't like to do that, we sports car drivers have a bad enough rep as it is), you tend to want as much acceleration as you can get.

So, here are my questions:

1. Is this just typical pre-engine-break-in performance in action and I can expect to pick up some more ponies as I get closer to the 2000 mile mark? (again, just 810 miles on it now) I've certainly seen this in action with my Harley-Davidsons, where the difference between 50 and 1000 on the odometer can make a significant (10-20hp) difference in the 1450cc V-Twin, so I'm willing to believe it's possible with Porsche's 3.2 liter flat-six as well.

2. Assuming it's not going to get a lot better with break-in, are there any modifications I can add (exhaust, engine computer, etc) to substantially increase torque in this model?

Please don't misunderstand me, I love this car and aim to hang on to it for a long time, I'm not slamming the Boxster when I compare this one aspect of its performance unfavorably with the Z3 or, to be even more fair, the Mercedes SLK-350, which features truly phenominal torque and acceleration from 1100RPM up to 3000RPM in a small V6. I don't know what Mercedes has done with that engine but it's damned impressive, and if I can get something even close to that acceleration with my Boxster S, I'll be 100% happy with what will then be the ideal combination of handling and low-end torque. I also recognize that I'm a real neophyte in all matters Porsche and this may be a FAQ (though it's not in the ppbb FAQ, I looked ) so I appreciate the patience of the more seasoned veterans on this board in advance. Thanks!
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Old February 17th, 2005, 10:34 PM   #2
Tom M
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First off, congratulations. Secondly, post pictures!

To answer your question... Yes, things will get much better after the engine gets broken in. You will be able to hear the difference in how freely it revs. Mine took about 5K miles. Once broken in you can simply drop down to 2nd gear and pass just about anything you need to. If you are already at freeway speeds then dropping down to 3rd gear should suffice. Basically, once revs get over 4500 or so you have plenty of power. OTOH - around town I have plenty of low end torque in 2nd gear down at 2500 rpm.
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Old February 17th, 2005, 10:38 PM   #3
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Heater, passing mode

For heat with the top down, run up your windows, put your windstoppers in, and select dash heat. This last thing will direct heat up from the windshield and into your face.

I have the low horsepower (205 hp) car. No problem passing other cars. Just select a gear which will put you at about 3500-4000 rpm BEFORE going around. These flat sixes just don't have the low end torque that a BMW straight six has, so your driving style will have to change slightly. Sort of like a turbo, or the Honda you tested.

Or, get a Chevy with a 454 and you won't have any trouble with low-end torque! Even my Fiero with a V-6 seems to have reasonable low-end torque: about 165 (and 135 hp) or so compared with the Boxster's 185 or so. The "V" designs put out the torque.
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Old February 17th, 2005, 10:42 PM   #4
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Ed's right. I forgot to mention that in my post. If you have a windstop make sure it's in and roll the windows up. Then crank the seat heater on if you have it. Finally, the heater goes on high. I make sure the floor and dash vents are on. The dash vents I aim towards me and slightly down. A warm jacket with a high collar and a cap and I'm good to go down to around 40 degrees.
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Old February 17th, 2005, 11:43 PM   #5
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First of all congratulations!!! I know you will enjoy your new car.

I agree with the previous posts. You definitely need a warm jacket with a high collar and a cap. The only uncomfortable feeling is the cold air on the back of your neck. A scarf would also work along with the high collar. You might also try lowering the seat.
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Old February 18th, 2005, 12:18 PM   #6
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One word: downshift

As others have alluded to, if you get in the power band there's plenty waiting for you. Not that low-end torque of some other engines, but there is good power above. To pass, just downshift into the 4500+ RPM area and step on it. It'll go. It took me a little time to get comfortable in the upper half of the RPM range, having driven almost every mile under 4000 RPM in previous cars. Since you are keeping it under 4000 RPM for break-in, you have yet to tap into the power!
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Old February 18th, 2005, 12:29 PM   #7
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Sorry if this echos anything others have said. I don't feel like previewing all the other responses so you might get some of this twice.

* Yes, you will get more power at any given gear/rpm as the engine loosens up. But don't forget, part of the breakin is keeping it below 4k rpm, and another part is not using full throttle. I liked to play with mine during break-in. I'd roll on to the throttle upto 60% or 70% in a nonlinear fashion. It was fun and I could feel the results improve almost daily until peak.

* While this car is no S2000, you will never have satisfying acceleration below 4k. So part of your problem is just not believing how much better life gets above 4k. It's a common condition. The revs do help with peak acceleration for any given gear coming at 6k. But you'll find the fun level increases by 3 fold right around 5k. Be patient, you'll love it. Oh, and get ready for a very sexy exhaust note. Once the cams open up, the sound is night and day too.
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Old February 18th, 2005, 12:34 PM   #8
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Oh, I forgot one more thing. And I feel bad that I couldn't get to you before you purchased, but [shrug]. You needed heated seats. With varying levels of warm layered clothing, 2 seat temps, 2 window positions, and a full range of heat coming from the climate control, I can stay warm at 80mph down to 25F. I can do what it takes to be comfortable all the way up to 90F. In fact, I'm not sure where you live but around here I drive top down every single dry day and sometimes in the rain too. As long as you can keep moving, you can drive in pretty heavy rain without getting wet. If you come to a stoplight, though, you can get pretty drenched waiting for the top to close.
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Old February 18th, 2005, 01:56 PM   #9
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No one stole the torque. It is just hidden up higher in the powerband, 3500 RPM for the bimmer vs. 4700 RPM for the 987S. Even with my 217 HP standard 986 passing is no problem as long as the rev's are up.

Fun car, you'll love it.
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Old February 18th, 2005, 05:21 PM   #10
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Fearlessly take it to redline. Jacket, heat on high... but, leave windows down :^)

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