Special Coverage

Greater L.A. Auto Show

LOS ANGELES – Porsche AG unveils the ’11 Boxster Spyder at the auto show here, a vehicle the auto maker says represents the “purest form of the roadster sports car.”

The new mid-engine Spyder is powered by a 3.4L direct-injected 6-cyl. engine producing 320 hp, 10 more ponies than the Boxster S on which it’s based.

The car was designed to keep weight to a minimum, and at 2,811 lbs. (1,275 kg) is 176 lbs. (80 kg) lighter than the Boxster S.

Engineers accomplished this with the addition of aluminum door skins and lightweight interior door panels, as well as removing hardware unnecessary for driving performance, such as a sound system.

However, the Spyder does boast a sport suspension, lower center of gravity, standard limited-slip differential and exclusive wheels. Engineers were so driven to reduce mass, they reluctantly equipped the car with a lightweight manual soft-top.

Combined with extra-low side windows and two noticeable bulges on the single-piece rear lid, the Spyder has a “sleek, low-slung silhouette reminiscent of the Carrera GT,” Porsche says.

“The new Boxster Spyder looks distinctly different from its Boxster siblings,” says Klaus Berning, Porsche’s executive board member responsible for worldwide sales and marketing.

“Our designers borrowed from the rich history of our mid-engine sports and race cars from the ’50s. But under the skin, it has our most advanced technology so that its performance matches the Spyder’s looks, making it the quintessential purist Porsche,” he says.

Despite the emphasis on reduced weight and performance, the car is not a race car in the true sense, says Tim Cupp, product manager-sports cars.

“It’s not really a race car in the way a (Porsche 911) GT3 RS would be, but it’s definitely for a consumer looking for a more spirited driving experience than what they can find in the Boxster S,” Cupp tells Ward’s.

Porsche officials decline to reveal volume projections for the Spyder but the auto maker hopes it will appeal to diehard loyalists.

“As the launch progresses, we’ll see if there is demand, but I think there will be,” Cupp says, noting the auto maker expects the economy to rebound next year.

“It harkens back to our heritage,” Cupp says of the new model. “It’s a pure driving experience, and I think it will be a very emotional car for a lot of people.”

The ’11 Porsche Spyder will go on sale in the U.S. in February with a base price of $61,200, not including destination and delivery.

bpope@wardsauto.com