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Is the 981 GTS Peak Modern Porsche?

Turbocharging did not gain the Boxster and Cayman any fans. The models kindly picked up 911 fans’ spare derision when the transaxle cars left production in the mid-1990s, and have carried the torch of poor public perception from their predecessors. Real enthusiasts should only be buying 911s after all, or so the line goes. Despite having something of an optics problem right from the outset the cars have always been built upon an excellent foundation, with enviable driving dynamics and a sonorous, if not always powerful, flat-six.

JayEmm likes to couple clickbait with calm reasoning, which gives him a leg up on most Youtubers. To be clear he is saying the 981 GTS is the only modern Porsche he would buy, not the only one you should buy, and that mostly comes down to Jay not being the biggest 911 fan. The man daily drove an Exige for quite some time, which makes me think he’s made an honest assessment of himself as someone who does not need a back seat.

He rather rightly points out the existence of the 718 Boxster and Cayman’s flat-four gave their six-cylinder immediate predecessors something of a boost on the secondhand market. Buyers who were in for the noise and the character of a Boxster were not easily wowed by the new car, despite it improving on paper in virtually every metric. The sound of the flat-four was too Subaru-like, and the whole package lacked the effortless smoothness of the old mill. The GT3-mimicking GT4 and Spyder seek to change that.

But does that make the 981 the pick of Porsche’s recent past? At present 981 Boxster and Cayman GTS models on classifieds sites are sitting in the high $50k range and even into the low $70k range with modest miles. That sort of pricetag knocks on the door of cars like the 997 Turbo or any number of 991.1 911s. Indeed, that sort of pricetag will by very nice 996 GT3 with some money left over.

That said, where do you stand on JayEmm’s assessment? Is the 981 Boxster GTS the modern Porsche to own?

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Is the 992 the best 911 thus far?

Porsche has long been a brand invested in evolution rather than revolution, though not all of their changes have immediately proven popular. When the much-loved (but admittedly slow-selling) 993 was replaced by the 996, fans balked. When the 991 moved to an all-turbocharged engine range in the non-GT models, fans clambored for the naturally aspirated cars. When the Boxster and Cayman moved to a four-cylinder there were torches lit and pitchforks branded on message boards across the internet. We think, however, that the 992 might be spared this fate.

Click-bait title aside, Porsche has been quite consistent with each new model being empirically superior to its predecessor. For all of its faults the 996 was more powerful, lighter, and faster than the car it replaced. The 992 likewise represents a step forward from the 991 with all-aluminum construction, and promises improved performance across the board.

The new car also returns to a classic 911 instrument cluster shape, while better integrating the myriad tech features modern buyers demand. Functionality has improved, but the button count has dropped dramatically. Of course, as Harry points out, you can’t see the fuel gauge without moving your head. I think they picked up that trick from the 944.

Though its evolution may have resulted in many improvements, Harry notes the new car is not perfect. Cabin road is apparently exceptionally high, with Harry’s meter showing more than 80db over some surfaces. Certain conditions also cause the optional sports exhaust most press cars are equipped with to be an annoyance rather than a boon, and the car is not as livable or comfortable as 911s traditionally are.

In practice though, Harry’s impression seems mostly positive. The PDK transmission seems to get cleverer with each generation, turn-in is positive, grip as at an all-time high for a Carrera, and the car is certainly not lacking for pace.

Of course to deliver a verdict, we’ll need to drive one ourselves.

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porsche 991 Cup car driven: gentleman racer

Silence. Awful silence. There’s only the sound of my breathing as I sit looking out the windscreen at the track, a track which until a few seconds ago I’d been driving on. There are four black lines, criss-crossing each other, a rubber inscription on the tarmac that highlights my lack of talent.

What had Tom Woollen, technical team manager, Motorsport, said? Floor the clutch, re-start the engine and pull the paddle down for neutral. I do that, the flat-six fires but the spitting sound of the pneumatic shifter isn’t accompanied by any change in the digital display in front of me.

Third is still being shown, and every, ever more desperate tug at the left shifter is signalled not by that number getting lower, but a warning sound that suggests to me ‘expensive’. A Cayman GT4 Clubsport nips by, while I’m sat motionless on the tarmac, mercifully free of the gravel trap at the big left off Vale.

The mid-engined GT4 is the very car that only a few minutes ago I’d been lapping in, approaching the same big stop with impunity, leaning on the brakes until the ABS was cutting in. It was hilariously good fun, it flattering thanks to its fine balance and, if I’m being honest here, the electronic assistance of that ABS and Traction Control. 

The 911 GT3 Cup car I’m sat in now has no such driver assistance, all of which explains my current predicament. Nothing for it but to switch it all off, hope, and start again.

A quick flick of the ignition, a prayer, and re-start the engine with the clutch floored. The digital display in front of me is still showing I’m in third, but my tentative pull of the paddle has it drop to two, then first, then I’m good to go. 

Talent: you need a lot of it to drive in the Carrera Cup. I’ve been lucky enough to have driven a lot of racing cars, but none have intimidated as much as the 911 GT3 Cup car I’m in today.

I’d been warned, not just before I got into it, but for weeks in advance. The 911 GT3 Cup isn’t like most modern racers, it’s a car that demands the very best from its drivers – if you make a mistake you’ll know about it. And I know about it.  

If you’ve not seen the Carrera Cup, then where have you been? The UK’s fastest single-make championship, the 911 GT3 Cup cars are quicker than the British Touring Cars that they follow all around the UK.

Almost as quick as a 911 GT3 R depending on the circuit, Woollen saying at Spa, the Cup’s lack of aero, and hence drag, allied to its 485hp mean it’s only a couple of seconds slower than its more hardcore relation. In the right hands, of course. 

There are Carrera Cup championships all over the world, providing support races to Touring Cars, GT Championships and F1 as the Supercup. If you’re in Asia, America, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Scandinavia you’ll find a championship. Indeed, if you’ve…

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porsche 991 speedster road trip

 

There’s no heated seat. Forgivable in a Speedster, particularly given the likelihood being that most, if not all, will be used on warm, sun-kissed days and fitted with full bucket seats.

Not this car though, as someone’s ticked the box for Adaptive Sports Seats and saved the £333 extra that would have added the possibility to warm them. The winter sun, such as it is in Northumberland, left us an hour or two back, and the digital temperature in the dial in front of me is reading three degrees. It’s dark and cold but, in the absence of the possibility of a toasted butt and back, I’ve come prepared with thermals, a good coat, hat and gloves.

Sensible in mid-winter, but given the Speedster’s cabin is, unlike its Cabriolet relation, lacking in buffeting preventing equipment, even more necessary. The Speedster should feel open too, the hood an occasional item, which GT boss Andreas Preuninger admits they considered not bothering with. I’ll be leaving it down, then, just as it should be. 

We’re in Northumberland because Porsche GB is celebrating its most visceral open-topped cars, the new Speedster joined by its 718 Spyder relation and a Boxster T. The two mid-engined machines are back in the carpark and the other guests preparing for bed. I have other ideas.

Photographer Richard Pardon and I have come up with an idea, stealing the Speedster to make a break for the border. It’s a loose plan, my hometown of Edinburgh our destination, simply because it’s there, the roads between it and us are familiar to me and, well, why not?

There’s a tenuous Speedster link too – the Cannonball restaurant, the last building before our intended Edinburgh Castle destination, is number 356 Castleview, the first of Porsche’s Speedsters, of course, being a 356. That’ll do. Pardon’s convinced and chucks in his cameras, and we point the red, open car north. 

It’s cold but clear when leaving, so an early diversion is in order. Kielder Forest is a few miles away, and it’d be mad not to run through it. It’s a place that’s captivated me since the early days of rushing home from school to watch VHS recordings of Top Gear Rally Report, ‘Killer Kielder’ being the famous stages that more often than not determined the result of the Lombard RAC Rally.

We’re obviously not on the gravel forest and fire roads, instead taking the main route through Kielder Forest Park, turning left off the B6320 Pennine Way, through Hesleyside towards Greystead, before tracking around Kielder Water and towards the Scottish border. Kielder Water might be the largest artificial lake in the UK, and I know it’s over to the left of me, but I can’t see it. Actually, I can’t see much, the reach of the standard bi-Xenon headlights limited in the freakish darkness surrounding us, their reach denied not just by the inky blackness, but the undulating roads that characterise the tarmac around here.

It’s little wonder there’s an observatory located in Kielder, there being next to no light pollution in the woodland park. It’s quiet too, except tonight, as the howl of the 4.0-litre naturally aspirated flat six is breaking the silence…

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Don’t Tell Anyone How Great The 986 Boxster Is

The 986 Boxster is a gem, but don’t tell anyone how great it is. For those of us who know, this is one of the greatest Porsches to drive, own, and enjoy. It’s truly a sports car you can drive everyday [I can confirm, I daily drove a 986 for several years!]. Right now the 986 is one of the best values in sports car ownership on the market today. Sure, there are a few things that can go wrong with them, but by this point most cars have either been upgraded or had these quibbles fixed. If you find the right one it could serve you very well for a very long time for not very much money. But, really, don’t tell anyone how great it is, or it won’t be a bargain anymore.

Here is a great story of a great owner doing the necessary fixes to a broken Boxster himself to get it back right again. In this case the cylinder head cracked, which can certainly happen, but isn’t a common complaint among M96 engine owners. Instead of dropping the $13,000 that the local Porsche dealer wanted for the repair, this Porsche fanatic decided to undertake the process himself. By this point if you’re interested in a twenty year old sports car, you either have lots of expendable cash, or you’re reasonably mechanically inclined. Personally, I’d have no qualms undertaking a cylinder head swap myself, as these cars are really not that difficult to work on. Of course, it would be an engine-out procedure, but that’s probably the most daunting part of it. If you take your time and make it work, it’s reasonably easy to make a big repair.

Anyway, repairs aside, the early Boxsters are so delightful to drive that they’re really worth any pain in the neck they might give you. I haven’t experienced any pains of ownership with the M96 engine, but if I had, I’d still probably repair it and keep on trucking for another several years of ownership. If they’re properly maintained and not overly stressed, these cars require little more than fuel, oil changes, and the occasional set of tires.

Don’t take my word for it, listen to this owner tell his tale on the newest episode of Hello Road. (If you’re not subscribed, I highly recommend it. Ethan is a master of the medium.)

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