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Old August 4th, 2008, 05:59 PM   #1
Snaxster
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Thicker Steering Wheel in Leather (part no. XPA) installed

Today the Thicker Steering Wheel in Leather (part number XPA) was installed on my base 987 Boxster. Apart from the car itself, this item was my one big indulgence in buying this Boxster. The car was from inventory and there was no new fleet car with the Thicker Steering Wheel from which to swap (not in my car's interior color.) So I ordered the part, a special order, and waited about 5 weeks, far less than the 8 to 10 week estimated wait.

While at the dealership today during the installation, I tried some steering wheels in cars on the showroom floor. Of those invoiced as being a Thicker Steering Wheel, at least one in a Carrera was softer to the touch than mine is, in that its surface gave a little when squeezed. Maybe any two examples of this part may be slightly different. Maybe the material used to make the black color varies from that used to make the beige. I don't know.

My first impressions of the Thicker Steering Wheel installed in my Boxster were visual:
  • the increased thickness in the wheel grip is evident if you're looking for it
  • the thumb rests are an obvious change, and one that implies the increased thickness (though this latter characteristic is not true of the Sport Steering Wheel, whose wheel grip, though its diameter is smaller, is the same thickness as that of the standard steering wheel, I believe)
  • the appearance of the center part's circular design (with the airbag and the horn button ring) is strikingly different from the standard steering wheel's triangular design.
To touch, I think the Thicker Steering Wheel is noticeably more substantial than the standard one. It may be that the difference in their grips is small when measured, but to touch, as part of the car, they are very different. Whether one or the other is better is subjective, of course. It was this substantial feeling I wanted, and with the thicker grip and the thumb rests on this part, I got it.

Underway, the impression was cemented for me: my Boxster felt somehow more solid and purposeful. The word "tougher" came to mind, but it was lastingly the sense of solidity that I noticed. Success! My friend who, arguing for the added expense of the Thicker Steering Wheel, opined to me that as a driver I have only three tactile interfaces to my car (my hands, my feet, and my a**) was correct. I thank him for the good advice.

Two other subtle but useful differences from the standard steering wheel are

1. the curved edge of the gray plastic horn button ring (amid the three spokes and surrounding the central airbag pad), which is pleasant to the touch, unlike the rather sharp and unfinished feeling top edge on the standard steering wheel's central section.

2. the indented plane in the middle of the central airbag pad, which I am certain is intended as a rest for the thumbs (since it works perfectly as such, with my hand size anyway.)

I notice these details when I lay my hands atop the two horizontal spokes while cruising. Again, success!

Here are photos I took with my phone's camera.

Standard 987 steering wheel





Thicker Steering Wheel in Leather (part no. XPA)



Best,

Snaxster
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Old August 4th, 2008, 06:57 PM   #2
Ken Corsun
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Thicker Steering Wheel

I think you made a good choice. My car came with the thicker wheel and I find it quite comfortable, though I can't make a comparison.

I really like the color of your interior (although it wouldn't go with my speed yellow car).

Ken
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Old August 6th, 2008, 09:50 AM   #3
Dale Flesburg
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xpa wheel

Curious...

I really like the wheel...

How much did it set you back installed at the dealer?
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Old August 6th, 2008, 10:22 AM   #4
Snaxster
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale Flesburg View Post
How much did it set you back installed at the dealer?
Hello, Dale.

Well, since I specified this part in my deal for the Boxster purchase, the price they gave me is lower than usual. I paid their cost for the parts, plus 1/2 hour labor, plus tax. About $1568. Here are the part descriptions from my invoice:

997-347-804-41-FOM SPORT STEERING WHEEL (sic)
997-803-089-16-T22 AS DRIVER AIRBAG

I didn't press the dealership about it, but I think the "sport steering wheel" name given for that first part is incorrect. It should have been "thicker steering wheel". The Sport Steering Wheel is a different model; with thumb rests, but a smaller diameter and the standard grip thickness. I had one on my first 987 Boxster. And it would not have required the different airbag for my current car.

Also, I think it's interesting that these part numbers start with "997", suggesting that Porsche originally thought of them as being parts for the 997 platform.

My justification for the cost of this modification was this: for a mere $520 more than the cost of the option from the factory (that is, if I had ordered a Boxster) I was able to get that much closer to the car I really wanted. In fact, if I can manage to sell the standard steering wheel and airbag, that difference could drop to zero.

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Old August 6th, 2008, 02:31 PM   #5
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Here is a clearer photo of the installed part:



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Snaxster
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Old August 6th, 2008, 10:19 PM   #6
Paralizer
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Sure looks like the Sport Steering Wheel. You sure that's what they didn't install. I have the Sport Wheel and looking at the pics it looks for all the world identical.
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Old August 6th, 2008, 10:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paralizer View Post
Sure looks like the Sport Steering Wheel. You sure that's what they didn't install. I have the Sport Wheel and looking at the pics it looks for all the world identical.
Hey, Paralizer. Can we see a photo of yours?

Thank you very much for this!

Snaxster

P.S. - Also, for our reference, I believe that:

The option code for the "Sport Steering Wheel Leather" is 460,
the option code for the "Sport Steering Wheel" is 435,
the option code for the "Leather Steering Wheel" is 459,
the option code for the "Thicker Steering Wheel in Leather" is XPA.

Given that, I will confirm with my dealership that they installed the one I ordered and paid for, option code XPA by any name. I am concerned now since, as on the invoice they gave me, the box for the steering wheel part is imprinted with "Sports Steering Wheel" on multiple labels.

P.P.S. - The different tactile feel I noticed in the one Thicker Steering Wheel example in the showroom (the one whose surface gave a bit when squeezed) may be a clue as to the difference between the Sport Steering Wheel and the Thicker Steering Wheel, assuming those options by name are the same whether on a 911 or a Boxster.

Last edited by Snaxster; August 6th, 2008 at 11:28 PM. Reason: omission
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Old August 7th, 2008, 06:23 PM   #8
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This is the only one I have currently. I you want a better one let me know and I'll use my cell phone to get one.
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Old August 7th, 2008, 07:43 PM   #9
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That's perfect, Paralizer. Thank you. And thanks again for getting me to look into this.

Today I met with the parts guy. We reviewed everything I already had seen, then walked around the large lot. Though we found Carreras invoiced with the Thicker Steering Wheel, we could not find any Boxster or Cayman with either a Sports Steering Wheel or a Thicker Steering Wheel for comparison (we excluded any Boxster RS 60 Spyder since that model has special parts, including its steering wheel.)

He told me that there was no agreement between the parts database they use and the marketing terms. For example, in the parts database there is no actual mention of "Thicker Steering Wheel"; and the parts specialists don't know from the option codes (like "XPA" or "460".) Thus he ordered for me what he thought was the correct part. But he cannot now prove that it is correct. To his credit, he is honest enough to admit this and to try to make it right.

We joked about measuring the available steering wheels with a caliper. So that's what I did when I got home: I got out my little 100mm caliper (that I use for wristwatches) and brought it and the standard steering wheel part to my car. I measured each steering wheel's grip at several points, each measure following a radius from the center of the wheel outward.

Because I found an average difference of no more than one millimeter in the thickness of the two wheels' grips, I now believe that it is in fact the Sports Steering Wheel they installed on my Boxster and not the Thicker Steering Wheel.

Pending a resolution, at least I like the feeling of this new part on the car, even if my perception of its greater thickness was due to the placebo effect.

The parts guy stated his commitment to get to the bottom of this. I trust him. So my expectation is that the dealership will either refund me the difference if they charged me for a more expensive part that can't actually be ordered, or that they will order the correct part and swap it in for no added charge.

Or something. I would like the real Thicker Steering Wheel, of course, but most of all I want to know the truth at this point.

Best,

Snaxster
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Old August 7th, 2008, 10:21 PM   #10
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Glad I could help. When I ordered my car I checked most options. There is a fairly noticeable difference between the sport, standard, and thicker wheel. As the name implies the thicker does have a softer more supple feel as I recall. I really enjoy the sport wheel. I like the feel, the smaller diameter, and from an aesthetic point of view I think it looks much liker. If you find you like the feel then I would just get the difference in money back. Remember the wheel is crucial since you have constant contact with it.
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