Porsche's big unveil at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show was the all-new third-generation version of its Cayman sports car. The new coupe packs extra Porsche punch in terms of styling, content and performance.

When compared to the outgoing Cayman, the newly minted version is longer, wider, lighter, lower, faster, more powerful and more efficient. Porsche stretched out the wheelbase by 2.4 inches (61 mm), widened the track and upped the size of the wheels by an inch to increase stability and handling. Meanwhile, it employed the same lightweight body strategy as used on the latest 911 and Boxster, cutting 60 pounds (27 kg) of weight when compared to the outgoing Cayman.

Porsche took restyling as seriously as we can expect from a company that's models look painfully similar from one generation to the next. The cabin has been stretched out, with the base of the windshield pushed forward and the roof line pushed back. The hatch extends downward toward the bumper, which eliminates the bulbous butt that the Cayman has traditionally failed to work off and makes the car look more 911 and less Boxster. As someone that's always found the styling of the Cayman a bit disjointed, I think that the new cabin dimensions make it a much more appealing car. I immediately thought "911-light" when I first laid eyes on it.

Other styling changes include a more aggressive belt line that runs through the side mirrors, sculpted edges and tapered intakes on the doors.

In terms of engine, Porsche managed the dynamic duo of increasing power while decreasing fuel consumption. The smaller 2.7-liter flat-six engine gets 10 extra horses over the outgoing 2.9-liter, up to 275 hp. When equipped with the PDK seven-speed automated transmission, highway fuel economy leaps to 32 mpg (from 29 mpg in the current model). The car hits 60 mph (96.5 km/h) in 5.4 seconds with the six-speed manual or 5.3 seconds with the PDK transmission. The top speed is 165 mph (266 km/h).

The new Cayman S gets a 325-hp 3.4-liter flat-six engine, up 5 hp from the outgoing Cayman S. Fuel economy sits at an even 30 mpg with PDK transmission, and acceleration is 4.6 seconds for the 0-60 mph (4.7 seconds with manual transmission). The Cayman S tops out at 175 mph (282 km/h).

The Cayman's balance of sportiness and efficiency continues through other components and systems. Direct injection, thermal management, electrical system recuperation, auto start/stop and a coasting function help the driver get the most out of every gallon. A Sport button allows the driver to shut down the auto start/stop and coasting on PDK-equipped models, actuating more aggressive engine response.

Other mechanical changes include a new electromechanical power steering system, next-generation Porsche Active Suspension Management (optional) and increased braking power.

Inside, Porsche zeroed in on comfort and ergonomics with features like the ascending center console with high-set gearshift lever and sport seats with electric backrest adjustment. A seven-inch touchscreen audio system comes standard, and a premium 800-watt Burmester sound system is available as an option. Other new options include adaptive cruise control and a keyless Entry & Drive system.

The new Cayman will hit the market in the first half of next year. It will start at US$52,600 and $63,800 for the Cayman S, not including a destination charge of $950.

Source: Porsche