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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I’ve owned the car for four months and have recently passed the 2000 mile break in period so, as several others have done, I thought I’d give my impressions/review of the car, addressing some of the particular areas that come up frequently on P9, in no particular sequence. I ordered the car the last day of March 2014 and picked it up at the dealership on September 1. Salient features are 981 BS 6 MT, full leather, 14 ways, Prem Pkg. +, Bose/Navi, x73, 19” stock BS wheels, PTV.

Ride and suspension- When I chose the 981, I was looking for a sports car for street, pure and simple. It’s purpose is to give me enjoyment on my daily commute as well trips to the mountains several times per year. Both my wife and I are sensitive to body roll and neither of us like any float in a suspension. We found the standard suspension to have too much body motion, as did PASM in its normal setting, thus we opted for the x73 sports suspension with 19” wheels. We have found it to be absolutely wonderful, providing a beautiful balance of agility and response without a punishing ride. It is not a supple ride of course, but that isn’t what I want in a sports car. There is some bounce when we drive over a local bridge that induces a rhythmic up and down motion as you drive over it. It is much worse with a softly sprung suspension, such as in an SUV or our mini-van, however. It does transmit sharp bumps and potholes, but no worse than any other sports car I’ve owned. I don’t seem to be as sensitive as others when it comes to stiff suspensions and effects on the lower back evidently. We could not be happier with our choice.

Interior trim glare- I have the full leather interior with Sport Design steering wheel so I have as much of the trim as can be. There is glare when the sun hits it, big surprise. However, it has never once bothered me when driving. In fact I had to make myself pay attention to appreciate it. When I did, it was obvious. I wear polarized sunglasses and it eliminates for me any bothersome nature. If you look directly into the trim where the sun is reflecting, it is bright, but not blinding. The pieces that are the most reflective to me are the trim pieces around the air vents. The dash, console, door and steering wheel trim I never notice at all. Since none of the interior trim packages replace those parts I personally wouldn’t choose a different trim, such as carbon or brushed aluminum, just to eliminate the glare. I’m sure one’s seating position may determine which pieces glare to each driver most. I haven’t owned the car in the bright summer months yet so my impression is subject to change.

PCM/Navi- I prefer an integrated navigation to an add on unit and don’t feel mobile devices are a viable substitute due to lack of cell signal in many areas that I drive (which is also why I don’t rely on streaming audio either). The navigation does everything I want it to do and, up to this point, has been accurate with POIs and address routing. The added functionality of speed limit display in the dash display is a particularly helpful addition. When I want to use the PCM screen for audio info, etc., having the map displayed in the dash is very nice. I’ve had no issues syncing, streaming or playing audio files from my iPhone or iPod. I have not messed with a USB flash drive and probably won’t.

Interior quality- The fit and finish of the interior is excellent. I have the Garnet red natural leather and is beautiful to the eye and to the touch. The cabin has no squeaks or rattles and, with the roof up, it is fairly quiet for a roadster. The plastic elements blend nicely enough with the leather but in retrospect, I might actually option the leather instrument surround and door panels simply for completeness sake.

Seats- I chose the 14 way seats. I wanted the Premium Package Plus so it was either 14 or 18 ways. I sat in both at the dealership but evidently didn’t pay close enough attention to the differences. The seats are very firm and supportive but not plush at all. With the various adjustments, it is easy to find a comfortable riding position and to change things as the driving situation or time changes. I don't expect a plush seat in a sports car so I am not disappointed by the firm characteristics of the seat. The seat backs provide good, not excellent lateral support for me. My only complaint is that the seat base bolsters are very narrow and do put a bit of pressure on the outside of my hips over time. If I’m going to drive for any length of time, I take my wallet out of my back pocket, which makes a big difference. Note that I am a reasonably big guy, so a narrower framed gent may find them to fit perfectly. If the 18 way seats allow the base bolsters to widen more than the 14 way, then I would choose them for that reason alone. A little more lateral support would be nice, but it becomes harder to get in and out as well as find a width to fit different size drivers so I think they have made a good compromise. I tried the sport buckets in the 997 GT2 and 987 Spyder and did not fit in them comfortably at all. They were too narrow, too hard and too difficult to get in and out of for my liking, just for reference. I’ve driven one 500 mile day so far with no complaints or fatigue.

Heated/ventilated seats- Seat heat does what seat heat does very well. They heat up quickly and allow three levels of adjustment, which is nice. The ventilation is a nice touch when the car is warm when you first get in. You can actually feel the air cooling you off at first. After a while, though, you don’t really notice it doing anything. I think what it does best is keep you from sweating as much as you would if you didn’t have it on warm days. Overall I like it a lot, but not a game changer by any means.

Engine power- *Most of my driving has been keeping in line with break in recommendations, but I have ventured above the 4200 RPM some. I’ve owned cars that were similarly powered and some that have far greater power and I find the 981S to be about as expected for 315 hp. It feels very similar to my 315 hp S54 engine BMW M Roadster, circa 2001. It is quick, and fun, but not particularly fast. It’s adequate power for a relatively lightweight sports car on the street. My wife’s 335i actually feels faster accelerating at it’s rated 300hp than the 981S. I do enjoy the free revving nature of the boxer six, though, and again, it is a sports car, not a muscle car or supercar want to be. I think 370hp and 320 ft/lb of torque would be about perfect, adding a bit more grunt out of the corners and pull at the top end without transforming it into a power sliding mess.

6 MT transmission- Let me just say that I enjoy using the clutch to change gears, rev match and heel and down downshift/brake. That’s why I choose 3 pedal transmissions, and this one is a gem. It was a bit stiff and notchy at first, but not overly so, and smoothed out very quickly. The shifter placement fits me exactly, the throw is on the long side of perfect and the tactile feedback is excellent. The clutch is on the heavy side, which I prefer to a light one, and the engagement point is perhaps a bit on the long side, but once you get used to everything, the shifting is smooth, responsive and makes the driving experience pristine. It’s definitely one of the best tranny’s I’ve owned.

Handling- No surprise, this is the cars forte. I can’t say enough about how well the car handles in the twisty stuff. In a little hot, just turn the wheel a little more and the car just pulls on through. firmly planted with essentially no understeer. The mid engine balance is, well, we all know. If you aren’t familiar with what a low polar moment of inertia means, or feels like, drive a Boxster/Cayman and it will be an epiphany. My car has PTV/LSD and while I can’t say definitively that I’ve noticed it’s effects while driving on the rural mountain roads (or at least I can’t admit it in public), the car’s responsiveness, balance and grip out of the corner, etc. is just sublime. Since I haven’t spent meaningful time in a 981 that doesn’t have PTV, I really can’t say if it makes a difference, but at least I know in my mind it is there and for relatively little money.

Steering-
I can’t complain too much about the feel or feedback. It’s actually quite nice and is also nicely weighted for all the driving I do. I can’t imagine why anyone would need, or want, power steering plus but to each their own. The ratio’s are spot on to me as well. It is more communicative than my wife’s F30 335i. I'm not too keen on the center weighting at times though and what I mean by this is when you turn the wheel quickly from center the turn lags behind a bit. For example, when driving in a straight line at highway speed, if I turn the wheel and inch or two then back to center quickly, the car doesn't “dance” back and forth like traditional hydraulic steering would. My wife appreciates this fact as it may smooth out the riding experience. This isn’t a complaint, just an observation.

Sport Design Steering wheel-
Since I have the 6 MT version and don’t have sports chrono it’s only a cosmetic choice for me. I like the looks of it the best of the three choices. I do miss not having audio volume controls and phone answer/hang up on the wheel, but it’s no big deal. I would prefer it to have a bit more padding and to be a tad thicker though. BMW’s M sport steering wheel is just right for me. The 981’s is kind of hard and thin. I would like it heated too.

Scraping-
Yep, I’ve scraped and have the scratch marks on the under side of the front end to prove it. I’ve also added the Schnell Auto scrape bar. It has only happened a couple of times and doesn’t bother me at all. I have learned to watch my approaches in and out of entryways and avoid speed bumps as much as possible.

Bose- I had to get it to get integrated Navi. It plays music loud enough to hear it reasonably over road noise without distorting. That’s really about all I expect out of a sound system in a roadster and why I did’t opt for the Burmester package. I don’t listen to music critically in my car, let alone a convertible sports car, but I do want to hear music when I drive occasionally and it fits the bill ok. I don’t like that the audio automatically turns back on every time I get back in. It should automatically stay where it was when the car was turned off, in my opinion. My solution is to turn the volume all the way down before I shut off the engine so when it comes back on, I’m not surprised by the volume.

Visibility- As is well documented, the rear window is small. The side mirrors do their job and all cars have blind spots, so I don’t find anything to complain about. However, we did opt for the parking sensors and rear view camera. With todays technology, it’s a no brainer for me. One misjudged fender scrape would pay for it.

Pedals-
I would like a little more height on the accelerator pedal to heel and toe easier when not using full brake pressure. In the mountains, when I was driving hard, it was good, but I heel to toe even around town and the accelerator pedal requires more eversion of the foot than is comfortable (I use the outside of my foot rather than my heel because I have a 45 degree valgus angle, which is the opposite of pigeon toeing). I will probably try Rennline at some point.

E-brake- meh, no big deal. I do miss a manual hand brake but I grew up with an e-brake on the left floor board so it doesn’t bother me. It is noisy going on and coming off though.

Electronic dipstick
- No strong feelings about it but would like to have both, actually.

Wipers- I picked up my car from the dealer, drove straight to the mountains for three days then 500 miles home. On the way home I got caught up in a torrential deluge of rain. Even on the highest speed, they were woefully inadequate and not nearly as fast as any other car I’ve owned. What’s up with that Porsche, no heavy rain in Deutschland?

Ingress/egress- Getting in and out of the car seems simple enough, but then factors such as body size, agility, low ride height, roof line, side bolsters, steering wheel position and seat fore/aft position enter into the equation, sometimes something that seems simple becomes not so simple. Having the memory package with the seat retracting when opening the door and return to my preferred adjustment when I turn the ignition is invaluable to me. Sure, I could manually move the seat back and forth each time, but then it always takes a little figiting to get it just right. And if you don’t, then the mirror isn't right, etc. I can’t get in very easily when the seat are in driving position, if at all. So, I really love having the memory seat function. Having two different settings for two different drivers is nice as well.

Porsche Entry & Drive- Using a key annoys me now. My last car didn’t have keyless ignition and I swore I’d never have another car that didn’t, thus the Premium Package Plus for Porsche Entry & Drive. The ignition and door lock/unlock function work well. The frunk/boot opening response is sometimes a little hit and miss though. I’d prefer the ubiquitous foot sensor instead.

Headlights/PDLS- Night vision is excellent and PDLS really shines on the dark mountain roads, pun intended. I dislike the headlight washers. They look bad, don’t accomplish anything and leave washer fluid spots on the hood when I have inadvertently used them. I wish they would take them out of the packages and make them a stand alone option.

Auto stop/start- Having 6 MT it doesn’t come in to play for me much as I’m not in the habit of shifting into neutral at an intersection. I was always taught, and is engrained into my mind from riding motorcycles, to always be in gear and ready to get out of harms way if necessary. I doubt I’d notice any increase in efficiency anyway.

Noise- I do have a wind whistle outside the driver’s side window with the top up. It doesn’t change with the window up, down or partially down, so I assume it’s coming from the roof. It’s pretty quiet but noticeable. The tires are still new so I can’t comment really about tread noise at all. The intake noise is pleasant and not obtrusive. All in all, especially for a convertible, I’m pleased with the noise damping and isolation in all the good ways as it allows the sounds you want to hear in spades.

Warm up time- Well yeah, it takes a long time to warm up and it really needs to be under load to do it. Just sitting at idle won’t cut it. I let it idle before changing the oil once and after 10 minutes it was still under 100 degrees. Driving for 10 minutes will get it up to 150-160. I have a 15 minute to commute and it’s just barely reaching 180 by the time I pull into the driveway. However, once warm, it does stay warm quite a while. Stopping for lunch with the temp 200-210, and hour later it only cools to 130-140, which means you can get back into the revs fairly quickly.

FVD exhaust- I had it installed before I picked the car up at the showroom. It provides the beautiful flat six soundtrack with a louder, slightly deeper note than PSE. The overrun pops and burbles are all there, all the time. When I first picked up the car, it was really loud though. The service manager and sales rep had a huge grin on their face when it was time to start it up for the first time in the showroom. They wanted to know how I found out about FVD (the first they’d installed). They said it was the best sounding 981 they’d heard (and yes, they had already delivered a couple of CGTS by then). I was not disappointed at all. But, I was a little concerned that I had made a mistake because it was loud, all the time. Top up or down, it was loud, especially when under load. It was a little hard to have a conversation with my wife most of the time and I was glad I had the stock exhaust to put on just in case. I’m happy, and relieved to say, that around 1000 miles or so, it started to settle down and quiet down nicely. I don’t know if it is the exhaust or the engine, but now it really screams under full acceleration, as you want it to, but has a good sporting volume with plenty of overrun noises under normal driving circumstances. There is not a pronounced drone at highway speeds, however you will hear the exhaust, especially under any load, even when just maintaining a constant speed, at any RPM. It is loudest at 2000-2300 RPM no doubt, but not bothersome. I had an M5 with a Supersprint exhaust that had a very irritating drone resonance and this is no where near. In the tunnels of the Blue Ridge Parkway, revving the exhaust reminded me of F1 cars in the tunnel at Monaco :) It’s addicting!

Color- I’d fallen in love with the red interior and that was the first option I chose. I live near the ocean and there is a continual battle with salty film on cars, so I wanted a light exterior color. That pretty much narrowed the choices to white or silver for me personally. I loved the look of the 981 body in white and wasn’t willing to fork over the $$ for GT silver, so white it is. I think it is beautiful and it is so easy to keep looking clean.

Things I’d like to have/change-
As you can see from my review, I’m extremely satisfied with my choice and my complaints are really nit picks, most of which are simply personal preference. If I had it to do again, I’d probably get the same options all over again. I’d add a little extra leather here and there and but that’s pretty much it.

There are some features or changes I’d like to see on the car:

- HUD- once you have it, you miss it
- Thicker, softer and grippier Sport Steering Wheel
- More capable windshield wipers (higher speed)
- Wider seat base bolsters (may be available in 18 way)
- Audio to remain at setting it was in when ignition turned off (including off).
- Standard front grill mesh covers (I couldn’t get Zunsports to fit properly)
- Remote operation of windows/roof, a la Smart top, from factory
- Foot activated frunk/trunk keyless opening with PE&D

In summary- As you can see I am very, very pleased with my choice and my options. For what I want in a sports car, it is absolutely fantastic. If I wanted a car that I could drive 800 miles a day and be fresh and energized, I’d get a GT car, luxury sedan or SUV. My BMW 6 series was a great road car for all day driving, for example. This car is agile, nimble, quick, beautiful, fun and rewarding to drive and that is what I wanted. I’ve had a 600+ hp muscle car, a GT, luxury SUVs, sports sedans, etc., and I’m glad to be back in a roadster, a true driver’s car and I couldn’t be happier. I plan to do an update to the review at the one year mark, but until then, well done Porsche!
 

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I plan to do an update to the review at the one year mark, but until then, well done Porsche!
Great review. I've had a 986, a 987, and now a 2015 981. I agree with much of your review, although I think visibility (top up) has become significantly worse with this model (probably because of the increased height of the rear deck). Reports indicate that the updated version of the 981 may include blind spot warning technology or cameras. That for me would be a welcome improvement. The other issue I've noticed is wind noise from the driver's side window at highway speeds. There was a post some time ago suggesting there may be a TSB on this issue. In any event, I'm looking forward to your review at the one-year mark. Great looking Boxster.
 

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Love your review. Thank you so much for sharing with us that much in detail your feed back. This really gave me the taste of doing the same with regard to my CS. I will probably do it when I reach 5,000 km (now in less than 600 km).
 

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Thorough review, thanks. I feel similarly about all that applies to my CS.

I have the 14-way seats, too. However, I want adjustable bolsters because I need them tighter (a mechanical adjustment would be fine). No sports car should be without some sort of bolster adjustment. It's just too critical for proper lateral support. No set bolster width/design can suite all body types.

As you've said, the power is merely adequate. When combined with the long-ish gearing, the S is not quite quick enough, especially for the money. Considering most S models msrp between $70K and $80K, the horsepower should be closer to 400hp than 300hp. For somewhat similar money, the C7 offers well over a hundred more hp/torque...that kind of difference is in an entirely different class level (plus, the rest of the car is much improved). With class competitive power/torque (your 370hp figure would be nice) and shorter gearing, the S would be genuinely fast. Passing power and acceleration out of corners would be much more satisfying. Heck, just the shorter gearing would make a nice difference.

Overall, a nice car though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That sounds like the Wright Memorial Bridge :)
Very close Dave. I'm on the southern end of the OBX and drive from Roanoke Island over to Nags Head daily. They are working on the WMB to fix the bounce supposedly.


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Very nice report. I got my 2015 in August 30 and I still have to go 500 miles to reach the end of the break in period. I want to experience what if feels and sound past 4500 rpm( went 300 rpm a couple times). I got the PSE so I expect it should sound sweet.

About warming, yes it takes a long time, my commute is 7-8 minutes in the morning, it doesn't even get to 138 when I get to work. In the afternoon not past 155 as the car sits at my work for at least 8 hours. And that was in the fall. I wished it would be quicker to warm up. My other two vehicles no problem, they warm in about tree minutes and the lexus IS 300 I just sold same thing.

Guys, why is that?
 

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Great review, lots of info there.

I am coing up to 1,000 miles in my November 2014 delivered GTS, pretty much been a sublime experience so far. Have to agree about the long warm-up times, which makes the short school runs a bit of a pain.

The only thing I'd argue is the value in the FVD exhaust versus the PSE fitted to the GTS. I checked out some youtube videos of the FVD on a 981 and it just seems to be too much volume too much of the time, whereas the GTS PSE can be selected to four different levels of volume and theatre: Off, PSE on, PSE+Sports mode, PSE+Sports Plus mode. Does your FVD drone on motorway cruises?

Your colour choice is excellent and bravo for having the guts to go a full red leather cabin :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The only thing I'd argue is the value in the FVD exhaust versus the PSE fitted to the GTS.
No argument here. If I had a GTS I would have stuck with the PSE since it is included in the base price. That's a $3000 "value."

When I ordered my car I wasn't sure which exhaust I would get. Some were significantly cheaper than PSE. The FVD was about a wash, as it turns out. This is just personal choice, there are no wrong answers.



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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
UPDATE

Since I wrote this review I have installed the Rennline Pedal set with the throttle lifter on the accelerator pedal. This solved the heel/toe issue by allowing me to raise the accelerator slightly to match the brake pedal height when under normal braking pressures. This mod alone was one of the best things I've done for my car.

I also would add that having the climate control revert to low fan speed and 70 degrees, rather than the settings at ignition off, is a pain. Maybe it doesn't have to but I haven't figured out how if not. Just like the radio, I'd like it to resume where it left off.
 

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UPDATE

Since I wrote this review I have installed the Rennline Pedal set with the throttle lifter on the accelerator pedal. This solved the heel/toe issue by allowing me to raise the accelerator slightly to match the brake pedal height when under normal braking pressures. This mod alone was one of the best things I've done for my car.

I also would add that having the climate control revert to low fan speed and 70 degrees, rather than the settings at ignition off, is a pain. Maybe it doesn't have to but I haven't figured out how if not. Just like the radio, I'd like it to resume where it left off.
There is a setting on the multifunction display to set key memory on or off and to keep the last setting.


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There is a setting on the multifunction display to set key memory on or off and to keep the last setting.
While I do not have the key memory, the system starts up at the previous temp/fan settings EXCEPT a fan setting of OFF, as the fan will then come on at minimum speed upon starting the car. Other posters have complained about the same issue - even with the Premium Package.

And the only way to have the audio muted at startup is to turn off the entire PCM/NAVI system prior to shutdown - simply turning off the audio is not sufficient.

It would also be nice to selectively disable (or at least mute) the front Park Assist when starting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Ah, thanks for the tip. I haven't messed with the settings since I first got the car so maybe it's a quick click and done.


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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
There is a setting on the multifunction display to set key memory on or off and to keep the last setting.


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Yep, sure enough my auto memory box was not checked. Thanks Tron.


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Great review, you really should add some 'pics for clicks' though...
 

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- Audio to remain at setting it was in when ignition turned off (including off).
Good review. Beautiful color combo! One question

What do you mean by the quote above. If you shut the Bose off, and then start the car, it automatically starts playing the radio again?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Great review, you really should add some 'pics for clicks' though...
There are some pictures are in my Gallery, found here: http://www.planet-9.com/members/speeddeacon-31971.html

Good review. Beautiful color combo! One question

What do you mean by the quote above. If you shut the Bose off, and then start the car, it automatically starts playing the radio again?
Yeah, others have commented about this as well. If you have the audio (radio, iPod, CD, etc.) turned off by pressing the power button while you are driving, then turn off the car's ignition, the next time you start the car, the music comes back on (and at the volume it last was set when last powered on). Why this is a little irritating is that I will often have music playing relatively loudly with my top down. When I turn into my neighborhood, I'll power off the music. The next time I start the car in the garage the music will come back on blaring. I've learned to turn the volume all the way down instead of turning off the power, but it's still a bit annoying. I've never had a car that worked that way. If the music was off when the ignition was turned off then when the ignition was turned back on the music was still off. If it was powered on (playing) when the ignition was switched off, it would resume playing when the ignition was turned back on. Hey, if that's all I can complain about at this point. . .
 

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. If you have the audio (radio, iPod, CD, etc.) turned off by pressing the power button while you are driving, then turn off the car's ignition, the next time you start the car, the music comes back on (and at the volume it last was set when last powered on). .

Hmm. this is PCM with Bose. I understand we have different cars but PCM is PCM and Bose is Bose. I don't see how they should work any different. If I turn on the radio, rare as that is, then turn the power off (i.e., push the button all the way in), the radio never comes back upon starting the car again. Ever.

Have you asked your dealer?
 
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