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Porsche Cayman R, a mid-engined two-seater debuts today at the L.A. Auto Show. Compared to the Cayman S, it delivers 10 more horsepower, a sportier chassis, and a body that weighs 55 kg less. (Porsche)
Porsche Cayman R, a mid-engined two-seater debuts today at the L.A. Auto Show. Compared to the Cayman S, it delivers 10 more horsepower, a sportier chassis, and a body that weighs 55 kg less. (Porsche)

Driving It Home

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With the launch of the Panamera hatchback last fall and the introduction of the second-generation Cayenne SUV (sport-utility vehicle) this summer, Porsche is now turning its attention back to its core products - sports cars.

Today at the Los Angeles auto show, Porsche will unwrap a specialty version of the Cayman coupe, the Cayman R. Prices in Canada have yet to be announced, but we can tell you this latest iteration of the Cayman is a lightweight (1,295 kg), high-performance (330 horsepower) version of the Cayman S.

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How much lighter? Porsche says 55 kg have been stripped from the Cayman S, while 10 horsepower has been added. With its chassis tweaked and lowered by 20 mm and the 3.4-litre "boxer" engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, the Cayman R will do 0-100 km/hour in 5.0 seconds. That's what you get when the power-to-weight ratio is a tidy 3.9 kg/hp.

A few other odds and ends: The R has its own distinctive and fixed rear spoiler, the lightest 19-inch wheels in the entire Porsche range and black-framed headlights, black exterior mirrors and "Porsche" lettering on the side.

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The Cayman, of course, is starting to age, as is the 911 - the core models in Porsche's lineup. This is to be expected. Porsche has been busy creating the Panamera and reinventing the second-generation Cayenne. When the existing products start to age, the obvious short-term solution is to jazz up the lineup with specialty models.

Which brings us to the 911 Carrera GTS, a 408 hp version of the 911 slotted in - as Porsche explains it - between the standard Carrera models and the racetrack-oriented 911 GT3. The GTS has 23 more hp than the 911 Carrera S using the same, basic 3.8-litre boxer engine.

The GTS is also 44 mm wider than the all-wheel-drive Carrera, comes only in rear-drive and has a short list of visual tweaks - including its SportDesign front apron, black side skirts and a black finishing panel between the rear tailpipes. The standard wheels are the centre-locking, 19-inch RS Spyder design painted in high-gloss black with polished lips. Just in case you're wondering, the Carrera GTS logotype on the doors and rear lid tell the world what you're driving.

Pricing? It starts at $124,600 for the coupe and $136,100 for the convertible.

Enthusiasts, of course, are always curious about the latest high-performance Porsche. One question ricocheting around this year's L.A. show, however, is how much longer manufacturers such as Porsche can continue to churn out 400-horsepower cars.

Porsche and other low-volume manufacturers like Jaguar and Volvo will be eligible for what is called an "enhanced lead time" to meet the coming 2016 fleet-wide fuel economy rules - CAFE. This means Porsche gets an extra year to meet fully the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Targets.

But by 2017, Porsche will need to meet 100 per cent of the CAFE requirements. Is this the beginning of the end for cars like the Cayman R and GTS? One wonders.

 

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