2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec

We collected our new Fiesta on March 1st 2009, our first brand new car!

2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec in Hot Magenta

2009 Ford Fiesta Zetec in Hot Magenta

My girlie has liked them since they came to the London Motor show and had a particular soft spot for the pinkie-purple one since she clapped eyes on it. A few months ago we took a trip to our local ford garage to see what sort of deals were on offer, all casual like with no intention of a purchase.

Fiesta Interior

Fiesta Interior

Two hours later, we had bought a new car! It was a choice between this pink colour and the bright yellow/green colour. My girlfriend chose the former after seeing a few green ones on the road, but no pink ones. The deciding influence also being the colour coded interior, which is lacking on the green one having only the dull-grey standard colour. A benefit of the pink dashboard is that it detracts from the scratchy plastic that Ford still use on its interiors. This something that is highlighted significantly on the grey dashboard, as the rest of the product is of very high build quality.

The delivery date was March 1st. After a few calls saying it would be delayed, then it wouldn’t, then it would again – it was delivered on 1st March.

The service by our local Ford garage has been great. We got a good deal on the car and also got free mats, mud flaps, and a few other bits and bobs. We went for the 1.25 Zetec model, as this offered a good balance between specification and price. We also purchased 2 years of servicing which, when purchased upfront, are discounted by a miserly £20 – but its still £20 in our pocket.

What stuff do you get?
Air con, CD player (which plays MP3 CDs), an iPod connection, alloys, quick-clear screen, Bluetooth connectivity (including phone capabilities) and a funky voice-activated radio! You can just talk to it to use many of the functions including the phone. The downside is that it doesn’t respond very well to ladies – I think it’s a trait of the technology requiring a more boomy voice to acknowledge. It also has very light power steering, and some fancy clutch wizardry, which makes it virtually un-stall-able.

What’s it like inside?

Ace! Its very nicely laid out, very up-to-the minute in trendiness. The dashboard is typical modern-car big, so it has its own little window on the side.  Ours, being pink, has a matching dashboard and seats and looks very funky indeed. Maybe a bit love or hate, but there won’t be many girls who don’t like it!

The seats have an appearance and feel from the class above; very nice and chunky with good lumbar support and huggy sides. I thought this might be a trait of the Zetec edition, but having recently driven a Fiesta in Style trim the seats did feel the same. Regardless, we think they are rather comfy.

The pre-purchase secret.
After getting home on the day we signed up to our new car, we had a look at personalised number plates and my girlie found one that she really liked. It was £400 so she thought it was a bit too expensive for her. Herein started my super secret purchasing plot of great surpriseiness. I contacted the dealership and told them of my little plan to buy the plate as a suprise and they agreed to keep it quiet. I purchased the registration entitlement and took this down to the dealer (thankfully it arrived in the post on a day I arrived home early!).

My lady said nothing else about the plate until the day we went to sign for the car (the week before collection). Amazingly, she had remembered the registration and asked if the dealer could try and get that one for her! The dealer played along with my game and said they couldn’t, as they can’t pick registration numbers any more (that bit is true).

The dealer was fantastic with my secret; they even printed copies of the agreement documents without any registration numbers and told my girlie that they don’t get the plate number until the 11th hour. In addition, our sales man instructed the mechanics to ensure the plates are not put on the car until the day before (they were kept in the boot), in case she comes down looking – and to keep the car in the compound at the back. It was funny listening to them going to lengths to keep my suprise under wraps when we were in the showroom – at one stage rushing into the garage bays to move it round the back when the salesman noticed she was in! Even the account manager pretended we hadn’t met before when we went in to sign. I think they went above what was required of them in this respect to make sure the collection day was that little more special for us, and I was very grateful indeed.

The collection day.
Our appointment was at 9am (first ones to collect!) on the 1st March. The car was parked outside the showroom in the car furthest from us. We were a few minutes early and after confirmation it was indeed our car, we went to have a look at it until the salesman was ready. The first thing my lady said as we walked over was “I wonder what my registration number is going to be!!” When she saw her lovely new car, gleaming in the sunlight with her private registration on it she got all teary and overwhelmed, bless her. To say she was happy was an understatement and was definitely the right decision to buy the plate. I think it just finishes the car off nicely and makes it more personal to her/us.

Since then….
The car turns just as many heads as my Cayman! A lot of people point at it, which my missus loves!

Fiesta Front View

Fiesta Front View

Driving the car is a very comfortable and relaxing experience – reminding me once again that you really don’t need anything bigger than this. It does everything very well, has all the creature comforts you could ask for and feels responsive when driving. I’m not allowed to thrash it (being carefully scrutinized by my lady, protective over her new little baby), so can’t really comment (too much 😉 ) on the handling characteristics. Fords are typically very good at this though and what I tried on the test drive you can certainly chuck it about and it leaves you with a nice grin!

Average MPG in 500 miles is 40mpg, so not too shabby at all. On long motorway journeys, it gets to a fuel sipping 48mpg+. Lovely!

It has been accessorised in a way that only girls can, including a Little Miss Naughty air fresher, a flower shaped tax-disc holder and a pink worm – all matching the car of course!

We have also bought some kick plates for it, after browsing the accessories catalogue. Buying the servicing up-front entitles us to 10% off accessories, so they came in at around £40. They look great too.

Summary
Good stuff:

Sprightly engines, very nippy and nimble.

Great chassis, feels sporty to drive.

Lots of bright colours to choose from – about time we had some nice fruity cars again, painting our urban landscape as they travel.

Good price, full of equipment that would put lots of other cars to shame. Feels well built.

Not-so-good stuff:
Air con comes on automatically every time you start the engine if you have the vents pointed to the front screen, which is a bit irritating as us lot in Blighty don’t really need air con until the 2 weeks of summer.

Plastics are still a bit scratchy, but the colourful dashboards do detract from this.

Voice Activated controls is temperamental to softer voices.

Paul Os verdict: A first brand-new car for both of us. A great car, great service, great great greatness. 🙂

March 2009

The “To-Do” List

I’m sure many car nuts have a to-do list, a list of cars they’d like to own at some point in their lives. There have been several on my list of  “cars that I must own” and I’ve now got just a couple left. There are some newer cars which I quite fancy, but this first list is my definitive selection of cars that I have always wanted….

Red Toyota MR2 The car that I always wanted from being but a small boy was the Toyota MR2. When the MK2 edition came out, I resigned myself to the fact that I had to have one at some point in my life. I achieved the dream in 2002 and it didn’t disappoint. It was a Rev3 with a sportier rear end, t-top roof and leather interior. In bright red, it was every inch the sports car I hoped it would be.
Boxster After that, my plan was a Boxster, which I purchased in 2005. The introduction to semi-convertible in the MR2 meant I had to go the whole hog and experience the full monty. I’d recommend anyone do the same.
Red Porsche Cayman The Cayman entered my to-do list not longer after its launch. I liked the shape and as soon as they brought out the 2.7 model I wanted one. I bought this in 2008.
Ferrari F355 Next up on the To-do list is a Ferrari in some guise. I’m not too picky. Either a 348, F355 or 360 will do me nicely thanks. They all look awesome in their own right.

The 348 has got a chequered reputation for both performance and reliability but they are well within the realms of initial purchase affordability. However, I have my doubts on how liveable an 80’s supercar would be in the modern traffic congested, pothole ridden, speed bump obsessed land that is Great Britain. I sat in one a few years ago and quickly realised that one would need knees and thighs of steel to move the clutch! But it would be a Fez in the garage, hey!

The F355 is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of Ferrari – and indeed all automotive – design. It looks exactly as a sports car should and doubtless will ever be bettered. This is largely reflected in the price of these cars, which now cost the same to buy as the 360. So, an expensive car with 90’s driveability then. Not one that you could enjoy on a commute without the AA card being close at hand.

That leaves the 360. A great modern Ferrari which could be used a lot more frequently than the other two – and in all weather. It could be left outside sometimes – even if it rained! The is the most tempting of them all, as I’m not very content with unreliable cars – they make me mad. I am also lazy, and the F1 gearbox looks appealing. The shape has a question mark in my mind, but its a modern Ferrari and it does look more up to date than the others. A further caution is that its almost as wide as a garage door, so success on keeping it hid away might be thwarted by its size.

Anyhow – One of those will satisfy the Ferrari craving, and it needs to happen in the next 5 years. I refuse to approach the mid-life crisis age with a Ferrari in the garage! Its just too stereotypical! Note to self: Work harder then. 🙂

Escort Cosworth The final car on my to-do list for now is the iconic Ford Escort RS Cosworth. “Cossie” for short. In red. This has been a desire twinned with the MR2 since my teen years and I still want one now as much as I did back then. Those phat wings and enormous spoiler had me hankering since day one. However, they are approaching 20 years old now and becoming even rarer. In addition, my girlfriend hates these with a passion like I’ve never known so true ownership experience might never come to fruition. But we’ll see!

The ‘Almost’ list
There are tons of cars that I like the look of, but they’ve not quite earned a place on the must to-do list (yet). These include the Jaguar XF, XK, Aston Martin, VW Scirocco, Lexus IS and a number of others. Here are some of my more interesting favorites…!

Red Toyota Celica 2000-2007 Toyota Celica.
I remember seeing one of these for the first time on the motorway. At the time it was a real edgy, fresh design and for some reason I’d not seen any pictures of this model prior to its release. I remember mouthing the word “Wow!” as it went passed. Initially I wondered if it was a new baby supercar! I’m still very fond of the looks and the shape, but as I’ve already got a small coupe on my To-do list, this car was pipped to the post by the Cayman. But never say never…
Crossfire Crossfire I’ve never been in one, and the reviews are generally not positive towards this little car, but I like the looks of them. They are quite rare and look smart, the convertibles have better dimensions than the coupe though..
Porsche Cayenne Porsche Cayenne S. If you’ve read my reviews, you’ll know how much I love these cars. But the 18mpg and expensive running costs outweigh its desirability as a daily commutable at the moment.
MG ZS 2005 MG ZS. Cheap and chearful motoring from a legendary UK car company that ultimately lost its way. The last-of-the-line model was great to look at. I’m still not sure how this company went to the wall, as every other youth used to drive the smaller MG ZR. I really did think they were on the cusp of a great return to profitable british motorcars. I like the look of the MG ZS, but in real life it appears a lot more dated than some of the nice imagery that presents itself through the Auto-Trader.

The dream list
These two cars are reserved for those special “6 plus bonus ball” type moments. The outlay and running costs are reserved for the uber rich…

Ferrari F40 Ferrari F40. Poster for my bedroom wall when I was a child, this car represents the ultimate in motoring achievement. A rare sight on the roads keeps this car as revered today as it was when it was launched in the 80’s.
Lambo Gallardo Lamborghini Gallardo. The first time I saw one of these on the road, it overtook me on a dual carriageway. In shiny black with that pointy, purposeful nose it looked like a stealth bomber for the road. I’ve loved them ever since.

2001 Boxster Retroview

I don’t think there is a greater motoring experience than the feeling of wind-in-your hair on a great care free sunny day down your favourite twisty road. I bought a Boxster to satisfy the roofless craving and ran it for three years. Here is my retrospective thoughts on the ownership experience, along with the problems encountered and the financial impact in doing so…

2001 Porsche Boxster, Lapis Blue

2001 Porsche Boxster, Lapis Blue

The Purchase
My introduction to the experience of Porsche ownership began in 2005 with the 2001 986 model Boxster 2.7. Having owned an MR2 before this, I was looking to move up the motoring ladder and a recent promotion meant that the Boxster was now on the radar. So I set about looking for one. There were loads for sale, but there was also a lot of rubbish out there.

My journey took me several hundreds of miles to be met with lots of disappointment and frustration. From cars that were generally tatty (one hadn’t even been cleaned!), cars having rust(!) and one which I initially purchased until the agreed day of inspection by a professional at which point the seller backed out.

I eventually found my car 100 miles from home, in Lapis Blue. The owner had just washed it as I turned up and in the sunlight it looked great. Lapis has a purple tinge which gave the car a more unique colouring than the midnight blue colour that I had originally purchased.

Front view...

Front view...

Time for a test drive.

The owner lived on a farm and there were plenty of small, quiet roads to give the car a road test. The roof was down and the ride was enjoyable. Then I took a turning down a narrow road with a church that was in the final throws of a wedding celebration. The photographer – and all the guests – were out in the middle of the road. And there was me, sheepishly creeping towards them – roof down – with another bloke sat next to me.
That was my first experience of fully fledged self-consciousness. As I shrunk into my seat (as best as a 6’4″ bloke in a small sports car possibly can), I uttered various apologies as the waves parted allowing us through.

The seller – my passenger – seemed largely oblivious to the attention – something I later attribute to having owned the car for some time, you become incognizant to the attention the car can attract. My spirits were heightened to a ‘done deal’ level as we crawled past the attractive bridesmaids who dutifully commented “oooh, nice car”.
20 minutes later, I had me a Boxster, subject to inspection.

The inspection report (done by Peter Morgan, if you ever need one in the UK) highlighted a few niggling faults, but nothing to be too wary of. Overall the report stated it was a good buy, at a decent price. Slightly over what I wanted to pay, but this was a 2.7, rather than the 2.5’s that I had been looking at previously. In fairness, I couldn’t tell the difference between the engines but from a resale perspective I figured a 2.7 would be a better bet with the added bonus that I was stretching to a newer car, with presumably newer and better internal components. It also had the revised Tequipment model wheels, which are similar to the “S” model wheels but less rounded with a more edgy design. I liked them a lot.

Out in the woods

Out in the woods

The Worry!
Driving home, after buying my new car was both a wonderful and scary experience. I’d just paid £18,500 for a Porsche. That’s by far and away the most I’d ever spent on a car and I’d just bought a legendary badge with a preconception of wealth. That made me scared and proud. With these thoughts I began to wonder if I had done the right thing. Maybe I should have stayed within my comfort zone and bought a ‘normal’ car? I stepped out of the box with the MR2, maybe this was a step too far?

“Porsche Panic” – a common affliction that affects mere mortals who purchase desirable Marques – started to settle in on the way home. However, after about 30 minutes this feeling subsided as I thought “aah, fek it!”.  Pressing the loud pedal a little harder and glancing in the rear view mirror at those wide Boxster hips helped to bring me to a grinning calm.

I was in a Porsche Boxster. Me. I’d got one. It was all mine and truth be told, I couldn’t be happier!!

Driving and Ownership

Looking out to sea....

Looking out to sea....

Driving the Boxster is fantastic. Walking outside and seeing the sun shining on those rare occasions in Britain comes with the immediate thought “TOP DOWN!!” – and you’ll find excuses to drive places. Weekends away and regular days out became a very common occurrence. Its a feeling I’ve never had before or since in another car. The lapis blue looks fantastic when clean – it really gleams in the day, and looks dark and shiny at night. However, it attracts dirt like the colour black and requires lots of cleaning to keep at its optimum pose level.

The car has taken me all over the country and I’ve only ever had positive comments about the car. It turns heads, people ask you about it and kids will point and mouth “Porsche” as you drive by. From a pure vanity point of view, its cool! Porsche is now common enough that it won’t attract much attention in the car park, meaning you can leave it at Tesco’s without worrying that it’ll be a photo opportunity for passers by, nor a noticeable item worth a punt by a thieving chancer.

Interior, very curvy

Interior, very curvy

The car handles beautifully and inspires confidence when applying effort to your driving. You can corner at speeds which are both safe and fun, and feel like your being rewarded for your efforts.

The interior of the 986 is very curvy and there are some neat little styling cues marking a notable attention to detail in the cabin. The swooping lines which follow along the doors and door pocket covers look great, the instruments are nicely placed to glance at (I love how Porsche deem that the rev counter is more important than the speedometer!). The Becker stereo (with Sound Package Plus option) kicks out some meaty bass without being overbearing. The standard speaker system is pretty terrible though, getting very breathless at even moderate volumes. The Sound Package Plus, or the Bose are definitely worthy of consideration if you like your choons bangin’.

As a tallie, its perhaps a little too cramped inside and longer journeys require a couple of stops to get out for a stretch. A small price to pay for such a rewarding driving experience though.

Extra Stuff
I purchased a Smart Top relay for my car, meaning you can drop the roof whilst moving at up to 30mph. This is a great feature, meaning you don’t have to pull up with the handbrake on to active the roof mechanism.

ooooh, lights!

oooh, lights!

I also bought a set of clear lights to freshen up the face of the car. A worthwhile investment, and makes the car look more modern. Clear lights came standard from 2003 model cars, whereby all the indicators are either ‘smoked’ or clear in colour, rather than yellow. This lessons the ‘chucky egg’ effect of the front assembly.

Speedster humps, sporting. Even more.

Speedster humps, sporting. Even more.

For the summer time, I bought a set of “Speedster humps”. These are genuine Porsche items from the Tequipment range. They affix to the hard top fixing kit and attach to the roll bar. I thought they looked pretty smart, and covered the visible fabric when the roof was down.

As my car was kept outside, I also sourced a hard-top for the car. This required additional Spinlocks to be fitted, so that the roof can be mounted on the car (cost about £50). These will only have been pre-fitted to cars which have had a hardtop at some point in their life, so most cars will need these before a hardtop can be attached. The hardtop was brilliant – it made the cabin noticeably quieter and warmer for the winter months, and gave the car a different look to the convertible. Two cars for the price of one; can’t be bad!

All these items (except maybe the humps!) are a good investment if your thinking of purchasing. Although the initial outlay is expensive, you recoup most of these cost if you sell them on again separate to the car itself. Over 3 years, although the above items cost around £1,700 initially, they were all sold on for about £1200 with most of the loss being from the hardtop and humps, due to having them re-sprayed in blue (you won’t recover this cost, as all colours tend to sell for the same price). However, as the roof saved the aging fabric from the harshness of the winter months, this meant that I didn’t have to buy a replacement during my ownership.

Boxster with hard top, 2 cars for the price of one...

Boxster with hard top, 2 cars for the price of one...

Fame
As mentioned, my Boxster was inspected by Peter Morgan who also writes for 911 & Porsche World magazine. One of the photos he took of my car was later featured in the Boxster buying guide supplement in one of the magazine issues. I was delighted when browsing the magazines in WHSmiths I saw my car proud of place on the back page! I bought 3 copies!

Reliability and Costs
Now, you may have heard about the ‘legendary build quality’ of Porsche. So had I, one of the reasons for looking at the Boxster. Back in 1996, when the Boxster was introduced, this statement of Porsche was based largely on one car; the iconic 911. By all accounts, this was a supercar and rivalled the likes of Maserati, Lotus and Ferrari – all of which seemingly required nothing more than a stiff breeze to have the internal engine components shrivel up and die, leaving you stranded in whichever bus stop or lay by you could coast to. By comparison then, the everyday supercar from Porsche really was something special. You could actually use it in all weather – any time that it suited you. But that doesn’t mean you necessarily should do. This superb reliability compares well to other supercars of the same era – but not really compared to that MX5 you were considering, nor the German engineering that comes from the VW Golf on your driveway.

Another hard top shot

Another hard top shot

20,000 miles a year takes its toll on a Boxster – and it will cost. Its a high performance machine and whilst its true that most will probably never leave you stranded in the same way that other prestige sports manufacturers might, it will cost a fair bit to keep going. There are plenty of users who report problems on the 986.

It was reported that Porsche themselves became concerned about the reputation that 986 and the 996 were gaining that the 987 was positively designed to be more reliable. To date, this appears to hold true – forums are less littered with disgruntled 987 owners – and as an owner of both cars in some guise I would agree that the 987 is certainly better put together.

But don’t let that put you off – the 986 is a superb car and hundreds of owners will tell you that its been trouble free motoring since they have bought it. Don’t forget though, whilst you can buy them now for 5 or 6 grand, they were £35-50,000 new – and the running costs maintain that prestige.

For info, here is a list of expenditure over 3 years with my Boxster. Many of these items are quite common, according to the specialists who looked after my vehicle during its ownership;

MAF sensor £351
a clamp for something £1.48
electrical fault – £558.13
hard top kit £120.33
reseal cam box bolts £32.32
New steering rack £187.55
relay £12.94
(oil seals, ignition coil pack, rear anti roll bar bushes, brake fluid change) £344.65
wheel bolts £113.36
Radiators x 2 and Air condensers x2 £930.61
Rear screen – £250
Front screen – £60 (excess)

1 minor service (approx 400?)
1 major service (£550)
1 lot of front tyres (approx £200)
2 (or 3) lots of rear tyres (approx £300 per set)
full set of brakes (£300)

Hard-top – £700
Speedster humps – £400ish
Smart Top – £120ish
Clear Lights – £500ish

Depreciation over 3 years – £9,000

An approximately total of around £12,000-£13,000 over 3 years of ownership, using independent Porsche specialists for most of the repair work.

Where is it now?
I sold the car back in 2008 to a local chap, who still has the car now. He’s put a personalised number plate on the car and I still see him driving around from time to time – always with the top down – and always with a big grin on his face.

In the end….

One big-ass light

Big-ass light

On balance, it was a fantastic car. Despite the downsides of the breakdowns and sometimes eye wateringly expensive repair bills, it remains a fantastic car. If I had the room and finances to store the Boxster and the car which replaced it, I’d probably still have it now. I guess that holds true of all my previous cars, but the Boxster was not only great to drive – it actually made you feel a little special, just for driving it.

If you love driving and aren’t bothered about other peoples preconceived ideas about these cars, then get one bought. Highly recommended.

September 2005 – November 2008

2003 911 C4S Vs Cayman 2.7

6 months after I bought the Boxster, it was due for a service. I took it to the main dealer, which then gets you on the radar for various events which take place at the Porsche Centres in your area. One such event was a free 111 point inspection on your car, just before winter. The idea being that you can ensure your car is in tip top shape for the cold months ahead.

Whilst the car was in for inspection, I was invited to take a test drive from anything on the forecourt that took my fancy. Happy days.

So, my choices were a Cayman 2.7 (a car which I had my eye on for a purchase a few years down the line – assuming I worked hard enough), and a 911 C4S for comparison. And really, I just wanted to drive one!

First up was the Cayman demonstrator. With just a few hundred miles showing on the clock on this brand new car, the salesman caned it down the highway from cold. Mental note to self, don’t by a demonstrator.

Cayman test drive

Cayman test drive

That aside, I was impressed with the Cayman. The interior was more modern when compared to the 986 Boxster. It felt a little quicker, but not overly so, but it was a manageable car that anyone can drive; fast, but not put-you-in-the-hedge fast. The engine was also a bit more throaty than my Boxster, perhaps some of that being attributed to the fact that its in the cabin with you.

After a demonstration of the frighteningly capable braking quality and it was changeover time. Myself and the driver swapped sides and I got to give it some beans. The car pretty much sold itself onto my to-do list for the next purchase in a few years time. It looked good, felt modern, was a bit faster than my Boxster and felt like I would be upgrading.

Porsche Cayman, Grey

Porsche Cayman, Grey

However, I also wanted a go in the iconic 911. I’d not driven one up until this point but was well aware it was a top-of-the-tree supercar. A bit out of my price range at the time and I was very excited. I kept my cool as I asked the sales man to get one out for a ‘comparison’!!

His response surprised me as he went for the keys. “Now you’ve driven the Cayman, your going to be disappointed with the 911”. Disappointed? Really?! I realise it was the previous generation model (996), but it was a C4S – quite high up in the range and only a couple of years old. I was sure he was wrong and couldn’t wait to have a go!

911 996 C4S

911 996 C4S

As I took the keys and sat inside my first impressions as I got into the car was that it looked the same as the Boxster, but with a few more dials. Having owned the Boxster now for several months, this was noted as “nothing special”.

I’m not overly struck so far, but wasn’t expecting anything with the interior – I already knew that both the Boxster and the 911 share a lot of the same parts. Starting her up was nice though, a very meaty rumble. As I pulled onto the road I couldn’t help but think “Look at me, I’m in a 911. A Nine-Eleven. Me.” I was so excited inside, but tried not to show too much to the salesman who was probably expecting  a little more decorum than the re-enactment of an overly excited child.

911 C4S

911 C4S

The exterior of the C4S is nice though. It has the extra wide hips and the red stripe across the boot lid – a nod the the C4S models of old. In Silver with the larger turbo style wheels and the low stance it looks really nice. Very purposeful, reminding others at a potential traffic light grand prix not to bother.

As the car warmed up I got to a nice straight road and put my foot down hard. My excitement started to deflate. I was expecting something iconic, savage, brutal. An awesome grin to go with an awesome piece of machinery. But it didn’t happen. The car sounded great, sure, and it went quickly. But it didn’t go that quickly, and it didn’t sound a million miles away from the Boxster, or the Cayman. Certainly nothing that a sports exhaust couldn’t fix. The car moved fast, but not so fast that it made the Boxster feel like a shopping trolley. It didn’t make me feel like I’d bought a “poor mans Porsche”. Ditto on the twisty roads. All of these cars are significantly more capable than my abilities, so I’ll never know which ones are better than others – they all corner really well but mid engined cars are generally known to be a more secure option in the hands of amateurs. Either way, they all went around the bends as hard as I dared push them, so the 911 didn’t leave wanting – but it didn’t excel from the other cars either.

If I’m honest, I wanted it to be amazing and to put the Boxster firmly in the shade. I secretly wanted to get back in the Boxster and to feel underwhelmed. Why? Well, because its good to have something to aspire to. I love cars, they are what make me work harder each year to try and earn more money simply so I can spend more on the next model in my hobby. I’d got the Cayman planned now, but then what? The 911 certainly wasn’t that amazing and for the extra money it just didn’t satisfy any cravings. Plus, the 2 seaters look much better.

This left me in no doubt that the Cayman was the next car for me. The old shape 911 was a disappointment, but maybe I was expecting too much.

People, largely whom have never driven any Porsche, say that the 911 is the only model to get. I disagree and I’m quite happy to say that the significantly cheaper little sister is a great car in its own right and whilst it will never put the legendary 911 in the shade, it certainly is a perfect little Porsche in its own right.

For anyone who hasn’t owned/driven a Boxster, then the 911 will feel fantastic. But if you’ve had one already, you might find this a tad disappointing.

The 997 however, that might well be a different story. And as soon as I’ve been in one I’ll be sure to let you know…

Jan 2010(r) October 2006

Porsche Driving Experience

6.15am. That’s close enough. My alarm is due to go off at 6.30, but its near as damn-it. Certainly better than my last 2 attempts, waking up at 1.30am, and 4.17am. Like a child on Christmas day, I can wait no longer and I’m up and ready. Time for breakfast? Of course there is. But I’m not having any, too excited.

My appointment is at 10am at the Porsche Driving Experience Centre at Silverstone. The journey is around 2 and a half hours. With 1 hour contingency.

So, off I go in the Cayman, picking my Dad up on the way – he’s coming along as my non-driving guest and is really looking forward to it. The relaxing journey down consists mainly of conversation around cars, driving, and bad habits of passing motorists. We pick up a fair amount of traffic on the M1 as we pass the 12 mile contra flow. A broken down lorry in lane one ensures that traffic is pretty solid as we chug past the road works.

After a stop at a services, we arrive at Silverstone at 9.50am (good job we added the extra time allowance). Driving up to the barrier, the security guard pops his head out. “Porsche Experience please” says I. “Turn right here, a mile down that road”, comes the reply. Great stuff. Almost there! Driving down the road, parallel to the Silverstone race track is cool. There is just us on the road. And its a nice new road. Weather is looking good. Very good.

A few minutes later, we arrive at the Centre. It looks like a typical showroom affair. Very nice. We pull up in the car park, next to a sea of Caymans. Lots of red ones, including mine..

Lots of Caymans...

Lots of Caymans...

The entrance looks even more dramatic with the eye-candy on offer…

mmmmm, car candy...

mmmmm, car candy...

Car bums....

Car bums....

As we enter the building we are met by an immaculately presented receptionist. After announcing our names, she gives us our day passes and

Day Pass for the Driving Experience

Day Pass for the Driving Experience

explains how the event works. The passes have our name on them, along with the Porsche logo and a picture of a Cayman. My Dad hasn’t been to anything like this before and is absolutely made up with having his own Porsche name-badge. “I’m keeping this as a memento!” he says proudly, smile beaming from ear to ear as it puts it around his neck. He decides that he’ll keep his Ford hat on though, as he feels more comfortable in it…!!

We pass through the showroom, which dons a few racing cars, a 911, Cayman and Boxster. All looking very nice indeed…

The Entrance

The Entrance

Racing Car

Racing Car

Nice Boxster

Nice Boxster

My slot is a 10.40am. Time for some breakfast now. We get a Window seat looking over the Centre handling circuit and grab some coffee and bacon sarnies. The Caymans are all lined up outside in every colour imaginable. It looks great.

To the right of the cars there is a wash bay, where the cars keep being sent for a good clean. I was wondering how I could sneak mine in there to save me a job at the weekend. Upstairs in the restaurant there is a big Scalextric track which provides some good entertainment, and a selection of car magazines to read next to the comfy-seats. To the left of the restaurant is the Options board, which shows you many of the different customization options you can have for the interior and wheels when specc’ing a new car.

Looking out onto the race track...

Looking out onto the race track...

Whilst having breakfast, the centre manager from Porsche Newcastle comes over to say hello, mistakenly assuming my Dad was the one who bought the Cayman. The cheek! Dad sheepishly removes his Ford cap.

£70k Black Porsche Cayman

£70k Black Porsche Cayman

Hoooow much?!

Hoooow much?!

10:40 arrives and we are greeted and taken for an overview of the building and the cars which are in the showroom, including a £70,000 Cayman with all the trimmings. Looks fantastic…

Then its my turn out on the track. Hurrah!!!! First up, the skiddy stuff. I am reminded on the way to the skidpan that we aren’t actually supposed to be going full-tilt on the track as yet. You get to test the power of the brakes first by accelerating down a hill and then stopping really close to the end. I was amazed just how quickly these cars can actually stop. Then we head down a section of tarmac which is covered in water, mimicking a road of ice. A sheet of water sprouts up randomly from the floor and you have to try to avoid it. Having the car swirl all over the shop is a good reminder as to how dangerous the roads are in bad weather if you have to suddenly change course.

Then we head onto the twisty section which is half the slipperiness of the ice section, and is like a polished marble effect on the floor. This allows you to get the back end out and do some great slides out of the corners. I absolutely loved this bit, getting the rear out and then doing that thing where you let go of the steering wheel and letting it shoot round to correct the lock was awesome!!

Next up track stuff. My instructor was great, helping me to get the most out of my car and telling me when to brake, lines to use etc. This was good as I’ve never done anything like this before. It felt really quick into the corners but my Dad said it looked slow from the viewing platform. haha!! I think the latter was probably true, but it felt quick at the time!! Here I am…

Yeah, racing on a track baby!!

Yeah, racing on a track baby!!

So… Cayman S. Very nice – very quick!! Love the engine note, and the effortlessness of the acceleration. this was a manual car. I then had a go in the new non-S model. It had PDK. Personally, I couldn’t tell the difference really in speed from my current 2.7 and I struggled with PDK. I couldn’t get the hang of pushing the thing forwards to change up a gear. My driver had to keep pointing the direction which I needed to move the paddle or stick, engine merrily revving its heart out whilst I worked it out.

After a good few laps in each car we headed over to the final skid section, which had a kick-plate as you drove onto the water drenched area. The plate knocked your back wheels randomly left or right, causing you to go into a skid. This was good, but I managed to catch all of the skids and keep the car level (driving around 22mph), as did most in our group. One notable exception was a lady who was pirouetting every time, looked very funny. Then my instructor turned off PSM to demonstrate just how much the computer assists you without always realising it. I put my foot down and turned the car in to cause a skid. The loss of control was immense, with the car like a spinning top. With PSM on, it was much, much harder to force the car to skid. PSM – the button of doom. I’ll leave mine on I think!

A couple more laps, and then it was game over. I met up with my Dad and we went for another brew, followed by a presentation on the Cayman. This was delivered expertly by one of the Porsche staff at the centre and was about the history of Porsche and the development of the Cayman. On the questions section I asked about the double-clutch system, and how it knows whether to change up or down. The answer, by the way, is that the second clutch is continually monitoring what your doing with the accelerator and will keep changing the pre-selected gear (up or down) depending on which one your going to require.

Our final ride of the day was in the Cayenne, where we were treated to some off-road demonstrations of what the 4×4 can do. I love these cars!

Porsche Cayenne Offroad Experience

Porsche Cayenne Off-road Experience

This finished with a fast-lap in the new Cayenne Diesel to show off its capabilities as both a driver car as well as an off-roader/mummy-machine.

A lovely Turbo was also in the showroom…

Porsche Cayenne Turbo - Heeeuge front end...

Porsche Cayenne Turbo - Heeeuge front end...

Porsche Cayenne Turbo

Porsche Cayenne Turbo

We finished the day with another look around the showroom and then headed off back up the M1 to home. The distinct lack of any salesmen meant that we could indulge in each car for as long as we liked without any hint of sell or attention. Brilliant! The interior in the Cayenne (an orangey colour) and the 911 (red) really looked good!

Lovely 911

Lovely 911

911 interior

911 interior

Cayenne Turbo Interior

Cayenne Turbo Interior

Final thought…
The Porsche Driving Experience Day. Absolutely brilliant, unforgettable day out for me and the ol’ man. Sometimes the best things in life are free – you just have to have paid a small fortune beforehand in order to get them.

Outside, Classic 911, and latest 987.

Outside, Classic 911, and latest 987.

April 2009

2009 Cayenne S

I don’t know at what point in history that the worlds fashion starlets decided that utilitarian farming workhorses will forever more be the cool, must-have status symbol, but when they did Land Rover clearly benefited well. Even the Range Rover Sport, which are as square and ugly as the very first off road car to come out of the factory, seems to be a best seller. Unlike the staple sports-car icon bereft of the rich and famous, it seems that a cars exterior design was no longer important. Comfort, and size, mattered. And so every luxury brand got in on the act, including Porsche with the mighty Cayenne.

I’ve got one for a few days as a courtesy car. Here is my story….!

Christ, its big. I mean, its massive!!! When you stand square on in front of it, you realise just how much metal there is on these beasts.

As the Porsche driver rolled onto my driveway on Monday, I noticed the “S” plastered in shiny silver on its posterior. Fek me, a brand spanking new Porsche luxury mobile, in black. A quick check on the Porsche configurator reveals a list price of around £61,000. Not the boggo standard model I was expecting.

It came with PCM including sat-nav and telephone, heated electric memory seats, Tiptronic, Porsche crests on the leather (love them!), 20″ alloys and a boatload of other stuff including a couple of “Sport” buttons. This is gonna be fun.

Porsche Cayenne

Porsche Cayenne

And expensive.

£20 went down the green tube on on Monday. Followed by £15 Monday evening, then another £20 Tuesday afternoon. The light was showing red again when I handed it back on Wednesday.

Upon arrival, job one was to take it for a spin and to show everyone in the vicinity the new toy. Firing up the car, I’m met with a wholesome growl of the engine. Raaaa!! Love it. I convinced my lady that it was an absolute requirement of my very existence that I had to sink my right foot into the floor “just once”. A reluctant agreement ensued and my boot went down. Pause for anticipation and the thing starts to move. Its fast, picking up speed with a nice pace – not as fast as I was expecting though, but delights and fun all the same.

We arrive home and I park up and as I disembark I hear a distinct hissing sound coming from the suspension. Its moving!!! The car is actually moving down!! Wooohooo!! Air suspension! For a car with no gadget auto-spoiler, those geniuses at Porsche have given us another toy to wow the crowds. “Look at me” in traffic, car goes up, car goes down, car goes up, car goes down. I made a point to leave it in “load” whenever it was parked as its about 3″ lower and makes the car look fantastic on its 20″ wheels. Everyone commented on this.

Porsche Cayenne Side View

Porsche Cayenne Side View

30 seconds have passed since I got back home, so time for another spin – on my own this time. Working out these the air suspension settings, I hit the “Sport” button. “Chassis Sport mode” says the readout. Yeah! Sport! Then I press the other, bigger sport button next to it, lets see what that does for me. Two sport buttons. Must be a super-sport model, this.

Oooh, what a transformation! The car turns from comfortable luxury motor into a snarling beast desperate to get moving. Every blip of the throttle its dropping a gear and getting ready to fly. Its then that I realise that when I put my foot down earlier I didn’t actually engage the throttle in its entirety. There is a good few inches extra which requires a more considered push to engage.

On a rolling start, I nailed it (back seats laid flat, of course to get the best possible acceleration! 😉 ). Give the gearbox a second to realise that you meant it, and off it flies. It’ll drop down a cog or two and you head for the horizon at blistering speed. The acceleration is so impressive that you can’t help but beam your best grin, as its mighty 2.5 tonne weight is projected down the road akin to a dainty little sporting number. My friends and family all did the same thing – huge grins when you press the load pedal, couple with delights of disbelief. The engine sounds like something from the TV series “24”. Yeah, I’m Jack Bauer, me!  Until, that is, that I meet a Cayenne Turbo in traffic the following day, piloted by Alan Sugar’s twin – and giving me a curt reminder that this is probably a more realistic demographic of ownership.

This is a seriously good piece of kit. In comfort mode, its much more relaxed, wallowing a little more over bumps and giving a ‘take it easy’ feel out of the steering. This chassis/suspension malarkey isn’t just a gimmick, which surprised me as I can’t usually tell the difference when toggling with gadgetry. Sport turns it much more into the car-feel that we know and love with our lil’ 2 seaters.

Sat nav is also very good – being the only one I’ve ever seen which can find my address! The parking sensors are brilliant, with fruity colour lights beeping and flashing away at you, spreading outwards on the dash, and above the rear passenger seats! It makes you feel like your in a cocoon of eyes, watching every panel as your drive, all nervous and desperately trying to make it clear that your getting close to something. The glove box is air conditioned too. Cool, literally! But why are there no drinks holder in there though?

Porsche Cayenne Interior

Porsche Cayenne Interior

Porsche Cayenne Rear View

Porsche Cayenne Rear View

The interior downsides are that the seats are just like every other car seat in that the headrests don’t support the heads of tall people. Whiplash would ensure in the event of something unfortunate. The seats in the Boxster/Cayman/911 are the only cars I’ve ever driven that are contrary to this.

You get noticed too, but I’m not sure that’s a good thing. In my Cayman, it turns heads. People look with a relaxed admiring gaze at the shiny red blob on the tarmac – and kids point and shout. With the Cayenne, a lot of people notice the car – and then they immediately notice YOU. It feels as though they are looking to see which tasteless, over indulgent celebrity (or, even worse, a wanna-be) is knocking about in their town.

Lovely motor.... big too!

Lovely motor.... big too!

The car really tugs with your morality though. I love it, absolutely love it – its big, its comfy, its quiet when you want, throaty when you don’t and very fast. The Cayenne is great to drive. I also like how it looks (although this divided opinion greatly when I was showing it off). The facelift shape, and the air suspension means it looks nice from all angles, with the only question mark lying with the square-on front view.

But, it feels like you shouldn’t like it. It seems to epitomize everything that is wrong with society. Its big and exclusive, aggressive, anti-social, angry, loud, expensive and selfish. And footballers like them.

But its a Porsche, and is a truly aspirational badge to own. For me, it does everything you could ask for – but it does drink a hell of a lot, coming out around 18mpg on the runs when I checked.

Lovely motor!!

June 2009

Cayman Diaries: Wheel Cleaning

Small update
I’ve had the car for 16,000 miles now and have just hit an average of 30mpg!! Really good I think for a sports car with a pretty large engine.

Wheels
Its time for the other wheels to come back on, so I’ve given them a clean this weekend with some Coma Wheel Cleaner. I’m happy to report that it actually works! The jet wash wasn’t shifting much, but a quick scrub with this stuff followed by a rinse and the difference was amazing. Here they are mid-rinse with before and after shots…

2 done, 2 left to do…

Wheel cleaning!

Wheel cleaning!

Before...

Before...

...after

...after

Nice and shiny!

Nice and shiny!

Not bad for a freebie product from a car show!! 🙂

Cayman Diaries: A New Home

Cayman has its own house!
It’s been a busy few months for us, my lady and I have just moved house. I’m now the proud owner of a garage in which to keep my four-wheeled friend!! My dream has come true!

On moving day, my car was eager to help with the transporting of goods (and to move into its garage!), so I gleefully fulfilled its desire … with all of 3 boxes before realising that it wasn’t really suited for the job of removal van. So it had to wait whilst I got busy in various other vehicles.

Stepping back in time a little, when we went to view the property, job one on my list was to check the width of the garage. Something of a talking point, the occupiers saying they’d never seen anyone measuring the garage width before even looking at the house.  . Anyhow, a measure of the garage and again on the car (a quick arm-stretch over the bonnet, no less) showed the garage entrance would have just shy of an acre on either side in which to get the car in – with enough room at the back of the garage to hold medium sized dinner parties. Marvellous!

Fast forward to moving-in day, and on parking the Cayman in front of the garage, my excitement succumbed to worry, as it didn’t actually look like the car was going to fit!!

Thankfully, it did – the neighbour opposite helpfully shouting over the road “you’ll never get that in there”. But it fits nice and snug and Paulie is one happy chappy indeed.

I don’t think I’m great with a tape measure though – one of the curtain poles being further testament to that.

Cover
With its new house I’ve treated Cayman to an indoor cover too…

Cayman, in the garage with its bedsheets

In the garage with its bedsheets

The cover is made of a sort-of silk-look fabric on the top, and then soft bedding type material underneath.

My girlies mum helped me put it on for the first time. “Don’t forget to put those little pockets over the wing mirrors” says I, as we are gliding it over the top. “Well! I’ve never seen anything like this” came the reply; “tucking your car up in bed for the night ”

I like it though, finished everything off nicely!

(And yes, the floor will be painted soon, and some posters are going up on the walls!)

Engine
The garage has done wonders for the cars running too. In keeping it warm and sheltered there has been a noticeable change in the engine, it gets warm quickly, drives very smoothly from the off, and there isn’t any of that ‘notchy’ coldness that you get when keeping a car outside.

Problems

Failure on dashboard

Failure on dashboard

1 month into the new house, all was going well, until last Thursday. Leaving work, the car wouldn’t start (the engine turned but wouldn’t fire). A small spark was heard and I managed to get it started. However it wouldn’t hold the revs without stalling so I set off without further ado.

10 seconds later, the temperature gauge – and potentially my bank balance and heart – dropped to zero, the red light started flashing and “Failure Indicator ” appeared on the dash. I couldn’t believe it – 4 weeks out of warranty!!
Thankfully, this has now been resolved. It fixed itself (marvellous!) on the way to the garage. It looks like some dirt might have got onto the sensor and has now cleared. If it happens again, I’ll be having the sensor replaced, but this shouldn’t be a high-cost exercise.

The boys at Porsche Euro sorted me out good and proper, and they also enabled the auto-door lock, which wasn’t switched on, on my car. I’d recommend them for anyone in the West Yorkshire area.

My local car detailing specialist also reprimanded me for not cleaning the car properly, and I will be having him round as soon as my bank balance has recovered from the house purchase to return the car back to good-as-new. I can’t wait!!

Wheels
The rubber on the 18’s is now past its best, so the 17s will be going back on for the winter period in the next few weeks. A comfier ride will ensue as a result, just what I need for the cold winter months.

MPG
Now 29.9 average since I bought it. Yeah!!!!

Cayman Diaries: M.O.T.

MOT Time!
On the first of September, my car will become 3 years old. I’ve had it now for just shy of one year, and what a great year it has been!

Porsche Leeds called me asking if I’d like to book it in. Glad of the reminder, as I’d forgotten about it. They were doing an offer for £29.99. Bargain! Booked in, and courtesy car planned.

Forgot my driving license, so I couldn’t have the car but those nice chaps sorted me out with a lift to work in one of the Cayenne Diesels. Very impressive – I didn’t realise it was a diesel until he told me as I arrived at the office car park!

Anyhow, car passed with flying colours, just a couple of the usual advisories on break pads and tyres. AND – it got a free wash (which was badly needed). Superb, overall I think Porsche service is very good indeed. The only downer being that they didn’t have anyone available for a lift back to pick my car up and alternative options were not forthcoming.

MPG
Now 29.7. Woohooo!!

Warranty
Now comes the decision as to whether or not to renew the warranty. It won’t be with Porsche, as the price hike in 2009 made it ridiculously overpriced. I’m considering either a Tesco warranty or the famed Gamble warranty (i.e., none at all). Decisions, decisions….!! (Update: In the end, I decided not to bother. Time will tell if this was a good idea or not).

Something special
This was in the OPC at Leeds. It’s a customer car, being looked after for the time being. Very, very nice indeed!! Apparently this particular car is actually used by its fortunate owner and has about 18,000 miles on the clock. Respect!!!

Carrera GT 1

Carrera GT 1

Carrera GT 2

Carrera GT 2

Carrera GT 3

Carrera GT 3

Cayman Diaries: Bumper respray

MPG
MPG is now up to 29.5MPG after 13,000 miles. Woohoo!

picture of the problem

picture of the problem

Bumper
Unfortunately the paint on the bumper had started peeling after giving the car a wash recently. Porsche have very stringent standards when it comes to selling a car as an Approved Used model, and this frequently involves re-spraying the bumper due to stone chips. The cause of the peeling is likely to do with the lacquer not being properly sealed to the bumper when it was re-sprayed. This meant that when it became stone chipped, the lacquer rose from the paintwork, and a jet wash resulted in the lacquer peeling away.

I initially took the car to my local OPC, but they diagnosed the fault as being stone chip related and in their opinion was not faulty workmanship. I got a second opinion from another prestige body shop. They took a look at in and it was their belief that the fault was due to the way it was sprayed and that the bumper had been masked, rather than fully stripped and sprayed. Despite the re-spray being a requirement of Porsche to sell the car as an Approved Used example, it was no longer covered by Porsche warranty. I called Porsche GB who, after much to-ing and fro-ing agreed to do the work at Sheffield (my local) for £100. This wasn’t good enough for me, as I shouldn’t be paying to repair a bodge job. I called Newcastle and spoke to the sales manager. As it happened, he had the Body shop manager in with him at the time. After speaking to both – who were surprised at the incident told me to bring the car back to them.

After a valet..

After a valet..

I reminded them that they were several hours away from my home, but were very accommodating. “We will provide you with a courtesy car, fully fuelled, which you can keep until your able to get back to us. We will also fill your car with fuel for the inconvenience”. You can’t say fairer than that can you!

I took the car back to Newcastle who repainted the bumper and it now looks good-as-new. The dealership clearly takes pride in their work and both the sales manager, and the body shop manager couldn’t do enough to rectify the fault.

All the stone chips have gone and the workmanship is exemplary. A perfect, unblemished nose at 23,000 miles is a bonus. Being low to the ground, all Porsche’s are prone to stone chips and getting a quality re-spray can be an expensive job. This one came in at around £600, courtesy of Porsche. No half-jobs done this time.

Newcastle gave me a loaner 09 Cayman S PDK by replacement and this is a stunning car. It was much better than I was expecting. You can read the review here.

Getting my car back was a great experience though; I was quite excited after a week of it being away! When we arrived it was sat in the showroom (in the same position as it was when I bought it!). I decided to take some photos as I forgot to do it when I bought it. Unfortunately the camera battery ran out after 2 pictures but I think you’ll agree it does look fantastic under showroom lighting;

My Cayman at the Porsche dealership

My Cayman at the Porsche dealership

The dealership had put a “sold” sign next to my car. It had been in the showroom since the work had been done and fully valeted and it had attracted quite a bit of sales interest. 🙂

Driving my car the 100 miles home after collection I realised that the driving position is better in the PDK model – the steering wheel is smaller in the Gen2 (it has a flat bottom) and there is more legroom given the lack of a clutch pedal. This all adds up to a much more comfortable drive (being 6’4″, every inch of room helps around the steering wheel). Food for thought on any potential future purchase!

Newcastle service was excellent and I will probably use them for its service, when it’s due next year. I am really happy with the result and their attitude.

Other faults
Whilst in for its initial paintwork inspection (at Sheffield, before it went to Newcastle), they noticed a few problems which were fixed under warranty;

* RMS was sweating – this (and the IMS seal) was replaced. A common occurrence on these cars.
* Leak in the steering rack. Fixed
* Play in one of the rod-ends, this was replaced (I had to pay for the part at about £58 and forgot to ask for my Porsche Club discount. Doh!!).

A Good job the paint peeled really, or I would have had to fork out for this lot once the warranty had expired!

Sheffield gave me a Cayenne for a week whilst they undertook the repairs.  Review here.

Happy days!
All is well again now though, and I’m a happy bunny once again. Here is to many more months/years of happy motoring (hopefully!!)

2009 Cayman S PDK

The 986 Boxster had a sibling – the Boxster “S”. I drove one and thought it was a bit faster than my Boxster 2.7. But it wasn’t that noticeable, just more of a free feel to the acceleration. Disappointing, if I’m honest.

Well, this week whilst my Gen1 2.7 Cayman is in the body shop I’ve got a generation 2 Cayman 3.4 “S” PDK. Here is my review on the ‘slightly faster’ version of my car, with comparisons between the two.

“I hope its a white one”

I got the call on Saturday morning from Newcastle OPC just checking that everything was in order for today. “We’ve got a nice Cayman ‘S’ for you to drive” said Mark, the sales manger. Excellent, I was quite pleased. I gave my lady the news – “I hope its a white one, I like white ones” came the reply. “Or yellow”.

My Gen 1 Cayman 2.7 is bright red. Red is probably about as sporty and noticeable as you can get, right?

Wrong…

The Porsche Cayman 3.4S PDK

The Porsche Cayman 3.4S PDK

We arrived at the centre, and there it was. Gleaming in the summer sunshine, looking about as obvious and conspicuous as you can get. Nothing quite says “Look what I’ve bought, everybody!” than a bright white car with a red model logo down the side. If god were to spec a Cayman, I reckon he’d have a white one. And if the devil then stole it, it’d look something like this.

The Devil is in the detail....

The Devil is in the detail....

Cayman "S"

Cayman "S"

18" black wheels with red calipers. Very purposeful...

18" black wheels with red callipers. Very purposeful...

PDK Wheel and some red dials

PDK Wheel and some red dials

In the metal it looks magic, right on the money and bang up to date. It makes a serious statement that you’ve got something fast. The daytime running LEDs look very sharp. In the day, the fog-lamps light up with LEDs. When the sidelights are switched on, you get a line of LEDs instead. The main beam emits a lovely white halogen glow (litronics?), which raise up as you turn them on.

First impressions

Starting up the car gives a lovely rumble, more so than the 2.7 – and giving that famed auto-transmission throttle blip. This car comes with red seat-belts and red dials, presumably to match the red callipers and side logos. It works well, I like it. I also notice that the speedo goes up to 190mph. One-hundred-and-ninety miles per hour. Wow, I’ve never had a car which needed a dial that goes round that much. Happy days.

190 MPH. Sounds fast...

190 MPH. Sounds fast...

Its got 19″ wheels, touch-screen sat nav and the PDK gearbox – which has no less than seven forward gears.

A Lovely place to spend some time

A Lovely place to spend some time

Driving

We called in at the local retail outlet on the way home (girls: clothes – you know how it works), and was immediately aware that this car gets noticed. By pretty much everyone. Not one for the shy, this. Such an unusual specification is bound to be seen though.

Cruising towards the motorway, boot laden with new ladies garments, it becomes apparent that the ride is significantly less crashy than mine. And its on 19″ wheels. My girlfriend noticed this immediately, having recently had a back operation and likening it to the ride when my car was on its 17″s. I must investigate why the 18″s have caused such an upset on the ride on my 2.7, but that’s a story for another time.

So, all good so far. It drives nice (automatics – lovely!) and its more comfortable than expected – even on 19s. I think road noise is on a par to mine. The gear changes in full auto mode are almost un-noticeable. There is no jolts during changes.

Pedal to the metal

Soon enough we arrive at the start of the motorway. Its a flat road, the motorway starts straight off the roundabout. Time for a pedal-push, expecting something ‘a bit faster’ than my 2.7. What happens next is nothing short of astonishing.

Sh1t a brick, this thing shifts. I mean, not just a little; it absolutely flies. Its savage in its delivery of immediate, relentless power. The car dropped no less than five gears in an instant and projected forwards with such speed, the horizon high on smacked us in the face. Such was the ferocity, my lady grabbed her seat and shrieked at me “Paul, I don’t like this!”. Naturally, I stopped and normal cruising became its limits for the entire journey home.

I have to admit, it even took me by surprise. I smiled a nervous smile as I stopped pressing the loud pedal. 70mph was reached from about 40mph in just over the blink of an eye. The engine howl when under load is intoxicating – stunning – a real drama of thunder. With a considered right-foot, the pretty innocent white Cayman changed. You can imagine those day-time running lights glowing red, horns coming out of the side vents and the front grill snarling at every motorist in front, demanding they move or be trampled on by this rampaging beast. Its a properly quick car. The stats say 0-60 in 5 seconds dead, and to 100 in 11s, and I’ve no reason to doubt that.

I’ve taken a few people out in the car, and its delighted and scared them all in equal measure. Being the driver you know what to expect. But as a passenger in this low-down small 2 seater as it forces you back in seat, seeing a car that’s half a mile in front come into full view within seconds, it must feel a tad uncontrolled.

Handling is pretty much the same as you’d expect. I don’t take cars to the limits as I’m not a racing driver so can’t really comment on this unfortunately, but you know what to expect. Its just faster going in, and coming out of the corners.

Fame at last

Driving home, Andy Durant was kicking out his bangin’ choons on Galaxy – imagine my surprise we got a shout out on the radio “driving back from Newcastle in our new Porsche”!!

My lady had texted the show whilst we were driving (I hadn’t noticed, been too much into my driving pleasure!). Cool!!

Maestro, Where am I?

The sat nav is great. Its better than the one in the Cayenne (which was very good), as it has a touch-screen and Bluetooth for the telephone (worked with Nokia, not Sony-Ericsson – but I didn’t try very hard). The radio is lovely, listing all the available stations on screen and you can just press the one you want. It also tells you what radio show (and track) is playing at the time (if the radio station transmits this information). The stereo was Sound Package Plus and doesn’t sound as clear as Bose but its still more than acceptable and I wouldn’t be disappointed with this specification. However, if your an audiophile you will want to spec the Bose.

The Radio/Sat Nav and other controls

The Radio/Sat Nav and other controls

At first I found the fact that the route map always spins around to show true-north which was confusing when approaching a junction, but I’ve since found an ‘always north’ button, which keeps you heading up the display all the time. Bloody brilliant. Sav Nav lady is also very clear – she even speaks street names, towns and A road names and the clarity of the information, both spoken and shown, makes my 2 year old tom-tom look like a child’s plaything. She even changed my route automatically due to a traffic problem. Wow! I also think the routes that I have tried are better than the ones that tom-tom chooses.

Sat nav downside – you still can’t enter a full postcode so if you don’t know the street name your screwed. Oh, and it doesn’t display the Porsche logo on start up. Why?!

Other than that, it knows everything. Everything!!

Interior

Everything else is pretty much the same as the Gen 1, with the exception that the centre console is black which looks a bit nasty and ‘normal car-ish’. I much prefer the silvery-grey colour of the Gen 1.

Leather Interior

Leather Interior

Gears

PDK – most of the time I had it in full-auto. I tried manual a few times, via the steering control (I didn’t try the semi-stick this time round). I couldn’t work it properly on my experience day, but after a few days of usage I’m happy to report that I ‘get it’. It actually makes sense, feels logical and becomes second nature. But, if buying an auto I don’t see much point in using them to be honest – the cars brain does it all perfectly for you. Oh yeah, and a note for tallies – you can actually extend your left leg fully due to the lack of a clutch pedal. Oh the joy!!!

The Gear Stick

The Stick of Fury

A negative point on the gearbox is that from stationary it doesn’t like to be surprised. If you put your foot down it feels like its about to stall, then jerks to life. If you’ve planted too much you could go wayward as it grabs and then gives you a huge dose of power. Just take your time when moving off at junctions! It also can’t hold itself on a hill like normal autos, and there is the well documented split second delay between putting your foot down, and the gearbox deciding how fast you really want to go.

Conclusion

This car turns just about every head that you pass. People literally stop in the street and watch you drive by. Kids wave and give you the thumbs-up. Driving through traffic, it was bizarre to glance over and see everyone in the queue on the opposite side looking at you. And I mean everyone. Amazing what a white car with black wheels and red bits can do! This has a massive road presence. This colour combo is a classic reference to days of old, and does for Porsche what red does for Ferrari. It just ‘is’.

After a few days of driving, I’m getting used to the expectation of the speed. Initially, I thought it was too quick. My 2.7 feels like a sports car. The 3.4 PDK feels like a supercar. You can choose to avoid the blistering acceleration by not firmly planting the pedal (there is that extra inch of forced-push which means “go as fast as you can”), but to never use that would be missing the point entirely of the ‘S’. A manual might be more sedate to drive, as it’ll only be as quick as the gear you select. Passengers also get a warning when you change down with a manual clutch. The PDK just does it, and does it perfectly.

Me

The 2.7 is a great happy medium. When I go for a drive in the 2.7, I can drop it into second or third and go round a bend at a speed which feels fast and accelerate out feeling like a driving god – even though in reality I’m doubtless hardly testing the cars real limits. A 2.7 gives me a lovely sense of sportiness in the twisties, whilst always remaining safe.

With the 3.4 PDK, it changes gear so promptly and moves so rapid there probably isn’t a public road where you can use its full potential. With this kind of power, every gap in the traffic becomes an overtaking opportunity. In a manual, I can choose the gear, and use the clutch to control how quickly the gear change comes into play. The PDK gives you a perfect gear change to the perfect gear every time. That 0-60 time will always be what it says on the tin – and boy do you know about it. Driving onto the motorway yesterday I gave it some beans on the (upward) slip ramp. A second later I looked down at the speedo had already hitting the legal limit. In the brief time I had glanced at my mirror and decided to take my foot off the pedal it had added another 12mph. You need some severe discipline to keep your speed under control with this baby.

This Gen 2 PDK ‘S’ is what I believe anyone who thinks “Porsche” would expect. Its that utter instant, rapid, uncatchable speed that will totally thrill anyone who gets behind the wheel, or in the passenger seat. The in-gear speed is where it gives the best impression. Flooring it at 40-50mph delivers power in spades. This is a real “Porsche” in every sense of the word. In these colours it just defines the marque perfectly. I’m going to miss it when its gone.

Final thoughts

My 2.7 is bright red. It looks like a sports car, and goes like a sports car. It’s a perfect driving machine.

This 3.4 PDK is white. It looks like a racing car, and moves like a racing car. It can be both sedate and sporting and will turn into a rocket on request. And when it does the performance is nothing short of exhilarating. If you can handle the pressure of speed limits, and have a pocket deep enough to tick the ‘S’ box, this is THE model to buy. Perfection, made better.

July 2009

Cayman Diaries: New Wheels!

I acquired these from eBay about 3 weeks ago, finally got round to fitting them yesterday.

Before:

Cayman on 17's

Cayman on 17's

After (gave it a wash too):

Cayman on 18's

Picture taken with camera-phone, hence the pinkness!

I think they look awesome!!

First impressions…

The tyres are bloomin’ huge! 235 on front, 265 on the back!! (my 17’s were 205 and 235 respectively). They are also sporting the brand and make of tyre as my old wheels.

The 18s are noticeably louder than the 17s giving off a lot more road-noise, which was quite unexpected. You feel more of the unevenness in the road as well. Potholes etc are now more noticeable in the cabin. The price you pay for vanity I guess.

I’ve decided to keep the old ones, at least for now, as the tread is good. Being smaller wheels they will probably be better in the bad weather of winter too, and will keep the car a bit quieter in the rubbish months. But, as appearances go, I’m now 100% happy with my car. It looks great, sounds great and drives great. Marvellous!!

Cayman Diaries: A 6 month review

6 months, and around 6,000 miles have passed without a hitch. The tax reminder came through, £210 for the year. Can’t grumble really, not too shabby for a sports car. I’m glad its not in the top bracket, and was one of the contributing factors in my decision to purchase (I’m thinking if my baby ever becomes a partial garage queen, then I don’t want my pants down for the tax each year).

She had a bath (inside and out) a couple of weekends ago and looked spiffingly shiny and super red. Due for another clean this weekend, hoping to do that tomorrow if its nice. Roll on summer, weekends spent basking out in the sun with the rags and polish.

Build Quality
The build is still pretty exceptional, with no issues to report to date. Really pleased. There is a weird whistle noise on the driver’s wing mirror, but only at motorway speeds in the rain, but you can’t hear it with the radio on, so no bother. I put that down to aerodynamics.

Door hinges are my only gripe – but this is on all Porsches, not just mine. Why does the hinge only have 2 positions when you open it; position 1 is too narrow to get out, and position 2 is so big so you hit the car next to you. Consequently you have to do a contortionist manoeuvre in busy car parks so as not to damage your door. Other 3-door cars don’t seem to have this problem.

Tyres.
Standard jobs, I’ve noticed that when on full lock the tyres kind of jump a bit when your turning hard (such as reversing out of a parking space). It feels like they are skipping/slipping a bit. There is plenty of tread left on them. It feels a bit strange, but I’m told that all 987 (and probably other Porsche’s) do this. A personality trait, then.

 

Cayman Seat 2

Cayman Seat 2

Cayman Seat 1
Cayman Seat 1

Seats.
Whilst build is good, I’ve got my doubts about the longevity of the materials used for the seats. My car has only done 18,000 but there is a faint sign of bum-cheekage on the drivers seat, and my ass ain’t that heavy I’m sure (I’d know, I carry it around with me everywhere I go). Its OK for now though.

The bad news is that the passenger seat has taken a bit of a scratch on the bolster area from where my lady has been sliding in and out, the buckles on her jeans have brushed passed it a few times and its scratched the leather and slightly broken it. Part and parcel of using it as a daily driver I guess, but the 986 left my hands at 7 years old and 90,000 miles without so much as a mark on the leather.

Hmmmmm….

Blind Spot!

Be Careful chaps and chapesses, I noticed today there is a blind spot on the passenger side – which is perfectly sized for bikers. I noticed one coming up close in the left-hand lane (motorway, packed with traffic). At about 40mph, he sat in the blind spot for about 1/4 mile. I knew he was there as I saw him approaching, but if I hadn’t there is no way I would have seen him without craning properly. The rear quarter shielded him from my view. Keep watching those mirrors boys and gals – remember the driving test, watch ’em every few seconds! “Take longer to look for bikes”.

Fuel
I have finally managed to get my average MPG up a bit as well. Its been sat at 28.5 for weeks (if not months) now, but after a period of fun driving, I’m delighted to announce that it has crept up to 28.6, but my average speed is sticking at 35mph despite lots of motorway driving (well, parking – its rush hour after all). Must drive faster then, eh!

And finally…
Happy red nose day everyone!! The bonnet made of aluminium on these bad boys, so it won’t stick to the front. As an alternative mine has got a red ass pimple, rather than a red nose. 🙂

Red Nose Day

Red Nose Day

Cayman Diaries: Winter update

The Cayman has been out and about quite a bit over the winter period and I’m pleased to say it is still behaving flawlessly (touching lots of wood!). However, it is definitely not friends in the ice and snow. Last Monday and Tuesday were really bad here with a good few inches of the fluffy stuff on the floor, and the estate not being gritted I decided to work from home and leave the Cayman to sleep, rounding up a full week of non-usage.

I have to admit, that getting back in after a week away rekindles the sports-car magic, and I can understand why some people prefer to keep their motors as weekend-only fun toys.

Here are a few pictures of my beastie in the snow.

Snowed in!
Snowed in!
Snowed in!
Snowed in!

On a recent visit to my flat I mistakenly parked in my car on the drive, which is on a slight decline….

Cayman in snow
Cayman in snow

2 hours later, upon leaving the Cayman decided that it wanted to stay where it was, and went absolutely nowhere. It just couldn’t get out of the fresh crunchy snow – the wheels just grinding it down to the ice below. So, shovel out and resigned to the fact that I’d be doing some digging…. clearing the entire courtyard (not a castle by the way  – its just a “court” street!!). Half an hour late for my appointment that evening. Whoops.

Being winter, there isn’t really much else to report – with both me and my other half hibernating like most of the population until the weather gets nicer. As soon as it does, we’ll be off on weekend trips in the car. So…no nice photos yet. Fingers crossed, I might get over the channel tunnel this year, and maybe brave some left-hand driving. Maybe.

Options List
Having owned the car now for 6 months, I thought I’d list a few of the options which are either on this car, or were on my old Boxster and decide if I’ve missed having them or not. So without further a-do, here is a list for your reading pleasure!

Heated Seats. I had these on the Boxster, but the drivers didn’t work and I didn’t care really. However – I’ve also got them on the Cayman and Lordie they are awesome!!! They also double up as a back-soother after a tough session at Tae Kwon Do, helping to sooth my lower back until I get home for a shower. I use them all the time. Would definitely spec them in another car with leather seats. Almost compulsory now!

Climate Control. This was in the Boxster, not in the Cayman, and I’ve not missed it at all. The Cayman has air-con which is plenty. With the climate control, I found I used the fan-speed buttons all the time anyway, so climate never really worked as it’s supposed to (I always found the fans were on too high). I wouldn’t spec this again in a car, if it had standard air-con.

Bose. Tough one this. Its in the Cayman, the Boxster had Sound+ . I think it’s growing on me – you can have it on Volume 1 and still hear it around town-driving, so perhaps good testament to its clarity. However, I don’t think it’s worth the money. Other than snobbery (and the fact that I’ve had it now and anything less would feel like a downgrade), I don’t think I’d part with the cash on a new-build. But I AM really pleased its on my car!

A convertible roof. In the past 6 months, I haven’t had a day yet where I’ve missed the convertibleness. Probably due to the weather being very damp and cold. This feeling could well change at the first sign of a nice day!

Next Up:
1) Wheels. I still fancy the Cayman 18s, but still really like my 17s, so I’m torn. Although my 17s do have big tyre walls, the design looks good on the car. I’m going to wait until I see some bargain ones before parting with my cash. Recession and all that.

2) A Good clean. A professional detail is planned for summer, to keep my paint looking oh-so-shiny! As it happens he now only lives a few miles from me, so that is good news indeed.

Cayman Diaries: Icey days…

I thought I’d give a quick winter-update. The verdict – Cayman no like icy! 

Slid and slipped and traction-controlled my way to the end of the courtyard yesterday, somewhat hair-raising as if it grabbed traction at any point I would have met the wall with an alarming speed-jerk! . Once onto the main side road was great fun though. It’s a small incline, lightly covered in that snowy-ice stuff. Picture the scene – a huge white covered side road, wide enough for a dual carriageway, low pavements, no parked cars or traffic. And me. With my tail-happy Cayman.

Oh yes… Just a gentle (and I mean gentle) push of the throttle and I was sliding all over the shop!     At one point I was driving up the hill sideways. Felt like the Stig in slow motion (about 3mph!  ). But hey it was fun.

On any other road however, that is – and would be – as scary a scary experience. Either I caught a particularly bad day, or I don’t recall the 986 being that bad.

This made me realise 3 things:

1) I love this car to bits and don’t want it to get bent during the winter months
2) I don’t want to risk someone else sliding into it either
3) So I’m considering buying a cheap run-around for the snowy days to protect my little baby!