First Look: 2013 Porsche Cayman

Porsche follows a fairly predictable cadence for car launches, so when the German company introduced the new Boxster at the Geneva Motor Show in March, we knew that a hardtop twin wouldn’t be far behind. Sure enough, the 2013 Porsche Cayman makes its debut at the Los Angeles auto show and goes on sale in the U.S. next spring. Like the updated Boxster, the new Porsche Cayman is more powerful and more efficient than the outgoing version.

New Design, Less Mass

The family resemblance between Boxster and Cayman continues thanks to new styling for the coupe. The Cayman is now 0.1 inch longer and 0.4 inch lower, with a wheelbase lengthened by 2.3 inches and a wider track. It has more prominent side air intakes with black inserts and new dark-tinted headlights. The shapes of the air intakes in the front grille have been inverted, and the strips of LED running lights have been removed from the lower grille openings. As on the Boxster, the rear spoiler now spans the width of the tail and ends its arc in each of the taillights. Those taillights are smaller and more angular than before, and the spoiler can extend at speed for improved downforce.

The aluminum and steel body also is slightly lighter than before, despite the size increase. Porsche says the Cayman tips the scales at 2888 pounds with a manual transmission and 2954 with a PDK dual-clutch, decreases of 44 pounds. The Cayman S weighs in at 2910 pounds with a manual and 2976 pounds with PDK, a diet of 66 and 55 pounds respectively. The car’s standard wheels have been upsized by one inch, so the Cayman wears 18-inch alloys and the Cayman S has 19-inch wheels. Like the Boxster and 911, the Cayman switches from hydraulic to fuel-saving electric power steering.

The redesign also touched the interior, bringing it up to speed with the current design trends of other Porsche models. The circular vents are gone in favor of rectangular openings that wrap onto the top of the dashboard, the right-hand instrument binnacle swaps its analog gauges for a color LCD screen, and the center stack morphs into the tall angled design that first debuted in the Panamera four-door. The usual gamut of Porsche performance options, including carbon-ceramic brakes and adaptive dampers, should be available.

More Power, Less Fuel

The Cayman again offers a choice between two mid-mounted flat-six engines, both more powerful and more efficient than in the old car, and with a stop-start feature. The base engine is now a 2.7 liter, down from 2.9 liters, with 275 hp and 213 lb-ft of torque. While that represents a gain of ten horsepower, peak torque is down by eight lb-ft. Nonetheless, Porsche estimates the Cayman will run to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds with the standard six-speed manual and as quickly as 5.1 seconds with the seven-speed PDK. Top speed is 165 or 164 mph, depending on transmission.

The Cayman S continues with its 3.4-liter engine, but various revisions increase peak power by five horsepower to 325 hp and decrease torque by one lb-ft to 272 lb-ft. The 0-to-60-mph run is claimed to take 4.7 seconds with a manual transmission and as little as 4.4 seconds with the PDK dual-clutch. Top speed is 175 mph with the former transmission and 174 mph with the latter.

With those figures, the Cayman S has already matched the performance metrics of the old Cayman R. The high-performance version had 330 hp and 273 lb-ft, and reached the 60-mph benchmark in a claimed 4.4 seconds before reaching a top speed of 175 mph. That surely leaves the door open to Porsche building a quicker Cayman — one that might even step on the toes, performance-wise, of the 911 Carrera.

Despite the small dose of extra power, Porsche has managed to make the Cayman more fuel-efficient. The Cayman is now rated for 21/30 mpg (city/highway) with the manual transmission and 22/32 with PDK — increases of two mpg in the city and three on the highway. The Cayman S, meanwhile, now returns 20/28 mpg with the manual and 21/30 with PDK, gains of one mpg for most measures and a two-mpg bump for manual-transmission highway economy.

After its debut at the L.A. auto show, the 2013 Porsche Cayman goes on sale in spring 2013. The base Cayman will start at $53,550 (including a $950 destination charge), and the Cayman S starts at $64,750.

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