Special Coverage

Greater L.A. Auto Show

LOS ANGELES – Porsche AG, capitalizing on Southern California as the largest market in the world for its mid-engine Boxster roadster and Cayman coupe, unveils revised ’09 variants of the sports cars at the Los Angeles auto show.

The pair represents the last existing Porsche models to receive direct-gasoline injection fueling for their powertrains, as the feature was added across the range for the ’08 Cayenne cross/utility vehicle and the iconic ’09 911 lineup that debuted in late summer.

Continuing in base and S flavors, the standard Cayman and Boxster with a 2.9L flat-6 feature conventional port fuel injection, yet produce slightly more power, up 10 hp to 255 in the Boxster and up 20 hp in the Cayman to 265.

Boxster and Cayman S models powered by an improved 3.4L boxer 6-cyl. with DGI receive increases in output of 15 hp and 25 hp, respectively, to 310 hp and 325 hp.

Improvements in internal friction and packaging also improve the efficiency of the powerplants, while allowing them to be mounted lower in the chassis for better handling. Additional benefits of DGI beyond increased power include more torque at all engine speeds, particularly at low rpms, as well as better fuel efficiency.

Backing up the engines is the auto maker’s optional 7-speed PDK (Porsche-Doppelkupplungsgetriebe) dual-cutch gearbox, which debuted earlier this year on the ’09 911 and takes the place of the previous 5-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox. As in the 911, the transmission features automatic and manual-shift modes via the new center-console shifter or steering-wheel buttons.

A 5-speed manual gearbox remains standard for base models, while S versions come fitted with 6-speed units.

In addition, improved Porsche Stability Management and optional Porsche Active Suspension Management systems are integrated into the chassis and drivetrain controls, permitting the use of a launch-control function and adjustable tuning for the electronic dampers, electronic-stability control threshold, throttle response and PDK shift speed.

Overall, Porsche says the combination of DGI and PDK improve the vehicles’ efficiency to the tune of about 15%, boosting combined fuel economy in certain models to 26 mpg (9.1 L/100 km), based on conversions from the European driving cycle.

Differentiating the new cars are modified rear fascias framing LED taillight modules, as well as a revised front end featuring Carrera GT-inspired projector or optional dynamic bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime driving lamps and enlarged air intakes.

New 17- and 18-in. wheel designs also are included and are slightly wider in order to accommodate an upgraded disc-brake system with larger rotors.

As with the revised 911 range, the interior of the Boxster and Cayman get noticeable electronic and convenience upgrades, including new climate-controlled sport seats and a revised center console featuring the next-generation Porsche Communication Management system.

Along with a larger 6.5-in. (17-cm) touch-screen monitor, the new PCM sports larger and fewer buttons than before, voice-activated navigation and an improved stereo system that has greater compatibility with personal electronic devices such as iPods and Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones.

Both the ’09 Boxster and Cayman go on sale in Europe in February, with U.S. deliveries commencing in March, says Klaus Berning, Porsche AG executive vice president-sales and marketing, acknowledging the auto maker’s global sales next year likely will be below 2008 levels, which currently are down for the first time in nearly 15 years.

Porsche will continue to be flexible in its near-term operations, including cutting production output, if necessary, he adds, noting he expects the U.S. economy and sports-car market to improve in the near future.

U.S. pricing is not yet available, but expect modest premiums for the new vehicles vs. the ’08 Boxster and Cayman, which currently base in the low-$50,000 range.

msutton@wardsauto.com