I’ve had my Porsche 968 ClubSport for just over two weeks now. So what are my initial impressions after a little more seat time? Let’s just say I continue to be a very happy camper.
Build quality – My car was built 19 years and one month ago. You’d never know. I’m amazed at how solid it feels after all that time. Everything you put your hand on is well made using quality materials. The steering wheel, a thick leather piece distinct to the CS, still feels brand new. The leather gearshift likewise. Even the external door handles inspire confidence.
This is the best built car I’ve owned and it’s a lesson for me in what a car should have in terms of enduring quality.
Torque – An unexpected pleasure. I’ve got years of experience owning turbocharged cars so I’m well accustomed to the benefits of a healthy torque curve. The 968CS has a max torque figure of 305Nm (that’s 224 ft lbs for some of you). To put that in perspective, my Saab 9-3 Viggen – a car I considered to be an absolute torque-moster – had 342Nm.
I drive up a large hill when I go to work in the morning, called the Southern Outlet. It’s around 2km long and changes elevation by more than two hundred meters. I climbed that hill at 80km/h in fifth gear the other day and had plenty of torque to accelerate if had I wanted to (it’s an 80km/h zone). The rich torque curve makes this car effortless to drive. It’s the closest thing I’ve experienced to a turbocharged car without it actually having a turbocharger.
Fuel economy – Surprised? Don’t be. The 968 has a 6-speed manual gearbox and can be very frugal on the highway, sitting at around 2300rpm at 110km/h. Plant your right foot and you’ll use fuel at a prodigious rate, but it’s a real case of Jeckyll and Hyde, this car.
There are two primary contributing factors here. #1 is the mechanical grip inherent in having a well engineered car with great suspension, great brakes and 50/50 weight balance. #2 is option 220: the limited slip differential.
This car is so beautifully balanced. It feels a little bit corny to say so, but it really does inspire confidence and makes you feel like a better driver. And yes, the fact that this car is so competent scares me a little because I know that my own skills as a driver are nowhere near what this car can deliver. Over-confidence is a potential problem.
The looks – Let’s face it, no-one goes and buys a car that they consciously think is ugly. Maybe Aztek buyers, but even they might have seen some beauty there…. somewhere.
Anyway, I do love the way the car looks. Its stance. It’s a wide-hipped, tightly-wound bundle of muscle without a wasted line or curve.
There’s something pure and 80’s about those concealed pop-up headlamps that just works. The 968 combines that 944 look with the 928 S4 that was on its last legs and while it looks a bit cleaner, there’s something incredibly right about the 944.
Tyre noise – Having what are basically road-legal track tyres is great for grip. Not so great for driving comfort. They’re as noisy as a kindergarten 10 minutes before lunchtime. They’ll be replaced tomorrow morning and set aside for use on club days.
The lack of comfort – My car is a ClubSport, which means it’s a model that Porsche stripped of equipment with the dual goals of 1) offering a lower-priced entry model, and 2) saving weight for better performance.
I’m very happy to have the CS model. It’s the cult favourite, the one that holds its value best and perhaps the purest affordable expression of Porsche’s front-engined efforts of the era. But I have to admit that some more comfortable seats and power windows wouldn’t be unwelcome when it comes to regular driving.
I’m going to keep this car for a long time (well, a long time for me) but I wouldn’t mind looking for a non-CS 968 when the time comes, or a low-mileage 944 S2. The only thing that replacement car will have to have is the limited slip diff.
Maintenance Costs – It’s only been a few weeks. I haven’t even had to do anything yet but I’m already saving for it. The tyres I get fitted tomorrow are going to get me $1 change out of $1000. The odometer is currently sitting on 119,XXX kms so the 120K service will be coming up soon. I’m going to get the timing belts done at the same time and the timing belt kit alone is over $350. I’m budgeting on something around $2,000 for that service.
It’s a magic car to drive and you can feel the quality, but it doesn’t come cheap. This car was affordable in our situation but it’s still the most I’ve ever spent to buy a vehicle. That means I have to look after my investment while I enjoy it, which is exactly what I intend to do.
Driveway hassles – This isn’t the car’s fault. Well, not really. But it doesn’t get over the hump in our driveway without some serious help. I had to build these ramps to get it over the hump so that I can put it in the garage. They’re a pain to put in position every time I want to use the car, but that’s a small price to pay for what happens when you get the car out on the road.
Like I said at the top, I’m a very happy camper.
The 968 is an outstanding car and I feel privileged to own one. I come from prety humble automotive stock. This is only the third time I’ve spent five-figures on a car in my life, so to get something so capable is a new and wonderful experience for me. It’s been a long time coming.
There are minor discomforts based on it being primarily set up as a track car, but they are outweighed 10 times over by what it does when you begin to drive in the manner the designers intended.
Cliché time (again): Owning this car is a dream come true for me. I encourage every one of you to chase your automotive dream at least once because it really does feel great to get there. I’ll be chasing other automotive dreams, that’s for sure.