If you’re in the market for a used Porsche 997, it’s worth looking for one with the optional Sport Chrono Package Plus which, contrary to popular belief, is much more than simply a stopwatch on the dash top.
Part of the Sport Chrono Package is a small button in the centre console marked ‘Sport’. Pressing this instantly makes the car feel livelier and more exciting. It does this in a number of ways:
First, it changes the engine management system. The throttle pedal response becomes more sensitive, and the engine is essentially ‘remapped’ to make it feel more responsive and livelier, although overall power remains unchanged.
Second, if your car has PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management), this is also set to Sport mode, with firmer damping to give even better handling, although you can also set this by pressing the PASM button.
Third, in the case of Tiptronic S transmission, pressing the Sport button changes the automatic gearchange characteristics. Shifts are faster and lower gears are held longer, while lifting off the throttle immediately leads to a down-change. Furthermore, when in manual mode, the transmission will no longer automatically change up a gear as the revs approach the redline – you really do have full control. It makes Tiptronic cars much more fun and, indeed, I wouldn’t buy a 997 Tiptronic without Sport Chrono
Finally, pressing the Sport button alters PSM (Porsche Stability Management) so that the trigger threshold is raised so that assistance doesn’t kick in as early, allowing you to get more of a feel of what the car’s doing during cornering and braking. Yet if you push things too far, PSM will still come to your rescue.
And on top of all that, you also get that chronometer, er, on top of the dash. Again, though, there is much more to this than meets the eye. Controlled by the stalk for the onboard computer, the chronometer is an accurate stopwatch that allows you to time a drive. In addition, it lets you measure intermediate times as well as the total. The large hand on the dial measures seconds, while the two smaller ones show minutes and hours. In addition, a digital display on the dial shows hours and minutes, while the same information also appears on the onboard computer readout in the centre of the dash.
The final benefit of Sport Chrono Package Plus is the ability to allocate personal settings for up to three different ignition keys, so individual drivers can have various functions set to how they like them. This is one of those potentially useful features that the majority of users probably never get around to using, but it is can be genuinely useful. Functions that can be set include the fade-out time for the lights, whether the wipers operate manually or automatically, whether or not the rear wiper operates when reverse gear is selected, automatic door locking, and climate control settings.
So with all the above in mind, you can see why the Sport Chrono Pack Plus is worth sniffing out.