Driven: Porsche Boxster Sports Chassis

For all that puff about high-tech ‘chassis control systems’ presented to us last week by Porsche (well, it's been at least 24 hours since the last Porsche story... - Ed.) it’s interesting to note that for the new Sports Chassis option coming on the Boxster it reverts to passive dampers, rather than PASM.

Faster and with more feedback on track
Faster and with more feedback on track
The German engineering team helping us navigate the technology brought this Sports Chassis equipped Boxster S to Silverstone too, providing an interesting comparison twixt the high-tech approach with active dampers and the more traditional ‘ramp up the rates and off you go’ Sports Chassis.

As you’ll have seen from a previous blog, getting to the bottom of why passive dampers are considered better for a more focused set-up wasn’t an easy task, this being somewhat contrary to the party line that tech – with a supporting cast of acronyms behind it – is best. Indeed, in some ways this and the basic, no frills (relative) Carrera 2 were the elephants in the room, both proving in their own and very different ways how good Porsches stripped of all the electronic gubbins and tuned with good, old-fashioned engineering know-how can be.

Harder, faster ... better?
The Sports Chassis will be available from later in the year and although the hardware is apparently more straightforward than the PASM option we were told the price will be more or less comparable with the active dampers, which add £971 to the price of a Boxster S. The implication seemed to be that the Sports Chassis would only be available on the S too. 

Stiffer rear axle dials out understeer
Stiffer rear axle dials out understeer
You can check the numbers in the comparison table below, which details the changes brought by the Sports Chassis over both the standard and PASM options. And, on the face of it, it’s a significantly firmer set-up, not least in rear anti-roll which is 46 per cent stiffer than standard. Even the PASM chassis is only 10 per cent stiffer and this and significantly harder rear spring rates would suggest Porsche is dialling out some of the stock setting’s understeer to create a sharper, more incisive turn-in and generally pointier character.

Strictly hardcore
And, guess what, that’s exactly what it does. True, we didn’t get a chance to try it on the road so – unfortunately - can’t comment right now on whether it’s a step too far for that default bumpy B-road. But on the smooth surfaces of Silverstone’s National loop the additional front-end is really noticeable, in both slower, tighter corners like the Luffield complex and higher-speed ones like Copse. An ambitious turn-in to either in the standard S induces obvious understeer that you just have to offset with a slower entry or sit out until you can pour in more power.

PASM is the more all-round choice
PASM is the more all-round choice
But the Sport Chassis means the front end turns in with much more aggression and bite and you can get on the power sooner and harder. Transfer that to the road and though you’ll be trading a bit of comfort you’d have to hope that would also mean a bit more seat of the pants feel and less of the slightly inert, aloof detachment of the standard car, at least at vaguely sensible speeds. Higher limits on the track and a bit more feel and feedback on the road? Sounds like just the ticket if you want your Boxster a little sharper and akin to the Spyder/Cayman R in the previous models.  

Credit to Porsche for offering us the choice though. And if you want your Boxster as an all-rounder then PASM makes a lot of sense. If, however, you want something a bit sharper and intuitive, well, you can have that instead. Horses for courses and all that.

A PASM-equipped Boxster...
A PASM-equipped Boxster...
...and one with the new Sport Suspension
...and one with the new Sport Suspension
  PASM Sports Chassis
Front axle height -10mm -20mm
Rear axle height -10mm -20mm
Spring rate front +12% +20%
Spring rate rear +15% +25%
Anti-roll bar front +12% +22%
Anti-roll bar rear +10% +46%
Dampers PASM 'Sport Set-up' (passive)

Note: all values compared with standard, non-PASM suspension


Comments (20) Join the discussion on the forum

  • UltimaCH 24 Aug 2012

    At last here comes a "back to basics" solution. Well done Porsche!

    Corrected spelling wink

    Edited by UltimaCH on Friday 24th August 15:38

  • P4ROT 24 Aug 2012

    Excluding the spyder, thats the first Boxter I've actually seen and thought "I'd like one of them!".

  • Krikkit 24 Aug 2012

    Want one, can't help thinking it might be a bit stiff for daily road use though... That said, anything that brings a bit more life to the feeling and less electronics isn't a bad thing!

  • kambites 24 Aug 2012

    It wasn't that long ago that Porsche wouldn't have to have a "sports chassis" because they set the standard car up to be a driver's car in the first place; and despite this being the "driver's" version it sounds like it still has the (from a keen driver's perspective) woeful EPAS system.

    Porsche, I salute your ability to sell cars in large numbers at a huge profit; but I suspect I will never again have any kind of desire to own one of your cars.

  • Retset 24 Aug 2012

    When I had my VX220, Hofmann's did a similar trick to reduce understeer: +70% stiffer springs on the front but +100% on the rear. In addition, the cambers were maxed and the understeer disappeared. It was a much more pleasant car which, funnily enough, rode as well as the standard one. I guess the Porsche engineers have done a similar thing and this is an option I would be definitely be ticking if I were in the position to buy a new Boxster S ... which I'm not ...

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