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Old 02-01-2008, 09:31 AM   #1
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Gearing in 5 speed Boxster (non-S)

I am searching for a daily driver. My driving is exclusively in the city, where the traffic flows (not stop and go) but does not include any freeways. I have tested a Boxster, Z4 & 350Z (the TT is not on the list). I am seriously leaning toward a 2003 or later 986 or 987.
I am wondering how suitable the Boxster REALLY is for the city. I used to have an older 911, and I found the gearing a bit 'tall' for the city. I have no interest in a Tip, and with the cold shifting issues of the 6 speed, I am tending toward the 5 speed.
I came across an article from Road + Track that said the 2003 Boxster had the following gearing & speed in gears;
3.50/12.46/(7200) 43
2.12/7.55/(7200) 71
1.43/5.09/(7200) 105
1.09/3.88/(7200) 137
0.84/2.99/est (6350) 157
Using 4500 as the shift point, the speed in 1st/2nd/3rd is 1st - 27mph/2nd - 44mph/3rd - 66 mph.

Does the above speed in gears look correct?
If so, do you find 1st and 2nd a bit too 'tall' for the Boxster to be used alot in the city?

Last edited by Daily Driver; 02-01-2008 at 11:16 AM.
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Old 02-01-2008, 12:15 PM   #2
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Its not always the gearing that is the issue, but the HP and TQ curves too. Having a car that goes 60+ in second gear is fine.. but if you need at least 3500-4000 rpm to make it "go" then city driving isn't much fun (for example i draw on my 2.0l WRX experience. A fantastic motor/drivetrain but really only "useable" or "fun" above 3700rpm. As such, traffic lights were annoying)

Also consider the driving you will do, non-commuting. Will it be nice long highway cruises? Mountain drives? Scenic coasts.. Stop and go toll roads?

I guess what I am saying is that compromises are everywhere. YOU need to decide what you will compromise. A 986 is a fantastic car. Perfectly useable as a daily driver. I used mine 2-3 days a week commuting to work. Car was fine.

Did you test drive a tip or are you simply excluding them on principle? I too was hesitant to like the tip.. but after 3-4 drives in tips, I have grown to appreciate them more.
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Old 02-01-2008, 01:16 PM   #3
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My five speed does fine in city traffic. I sit in 1st most of the time in heavy traffic.

Those numbers are for hard acceleration shifting, such as when you're planning to head right up to 100 mph and keep on going.

I go from 4th to 5th when I am approaching 75 mph on the freeway, just to keep it at 3500 rpm or so and get the best fuel economy.
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Old 02-01-2008, 02:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daily Driver
3.50/12.46/(7200) 43
2.12/7.55/(7200) 71
1.43/5.09/(7200) 105
1.09/3.88/(7200) 137
0.84/2.99/est (6350) 157
Using 4500 as the shift point, the speed in 1st/2nd/3rd is 1st - 27mph/2nd - 44mph/3rd - 66 mph.

Does the above speed in gears look correct?
If so, do you find 1st and 2nd a bit too 'tall' for the Boxster to be used alot in the city?
Numbers look about right but the rpm range from about 2.5k-4.5k (especially above 3k) offers solid acceleration. Driving at 2k is not a problem.

In short, I've never felt the gearing was too tall for city driving.
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Old 02-01-2008, 07:48 PM   #5
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I can't speak for the 5 speed but for the 6 speed 986 Boxster S I do find the gearing to be way too long.

It does make it exciting on the highway though where you feel the car can pull and pull and pull forever!

For city driving though, ouch...
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Old 02-02-2008, 04:03 AM   #6
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I wouldn't want to drive a Boxster in a lot of stop and go/low speed situations. The owner's manual states that you should shift down at 1500 rpm, but I try to stay above 2000 when the car is in gear.

The last mile or two of my commute to work (and the first mile or two on my way home) is on a military installation where speed limits are strictly enforced. So, I don't fool around. I find that I can drive at 30 mph in third gear, but it just feels like the wrong kind of driving for this type of car.
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Old 02-02-2008, 06:17 AM   #7
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I am in stop in go traffic in the morning for about 4 miles. My Boxster is my daily driver. You will have no problems with this car in daily traffic.
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Old 02-02-2008, 06:20 AM   #8
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The 5-speed will be fine for flowing traffic. Stop-and-Go traffic sucks in any manual car.
I would consider the speed that you would be averaging. Because if you are going 35mph most of the time, then you might be right between shifting from 2nd to 3rd, which can be annoying.
Traffic sucks in general, but it is completely doable in a Boxster. It is worth it, just to go driving on twisty roads on the weekend.
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Old 02-03-2008, 09:24 AM   #9
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Thanks to all for your comments.
Racer_d, I agree that the characteristics of the engine are an important consideration. My 911 was an SC, and it preferred to run above 3000 rpm, which lead to some of my in-town issues.
BTW, I had a look at the Mini Cooper S to see its 'speed in gears' (the Mini is more a city car than a Boxster - IMHO). I was surprised to find that the Boxster and Mini are almost identical in the first 3 gears (using a 6500 (Mini redline) shift point - Boxster/Mini (respectively) speed in gears is 1st = 39/39; 2nd = 64/63; 3rd = 95/90). Amazingly the same, for autos that strike me as having different purposes.
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Old 02-03-2008, 09:45 PM   #10
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My 02 gets about 75 miles a day during the week -all highway and often in very heavy traffic. You can expect to shift between 1st and 2nd frequently in HEAVY traffic and it's clearly not ideal. I have had very few concerns using mine as a daily driver. It does take a little getting used to, depending on your current commuter car. I always wanted a porsche, finally got a great deal on a nicely used one with warranty, and I drive it every day and put some serious miles on it.
If you must drive in traffic, just do it!
1. no one will look as good as you do with the top down and stereo blasting- let's face it, these cars look awesome
2. Few people will have had as much fun as you did pulling a few G's getting onto the highway
3. you get an great left leg workout- I sometimes put on driving/racing shoes which really help(balls of your left foot can get sore if you spend 90 minutes doing cluthwork in a pair of "work shoes" as I sometimes have to do).
If you are worried, don't be
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Old 02-04-2008, 05:59 AM   #11
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I have a 2.7L manual that I dd to work in downton atlanta. lots of stop and go. the 2.7l has a decent amount of low end torque so it's not hard to drive stop and go. I don't even notice it, but then again I've never owned an automatic car...
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