Key to the Highway

Observations about cars and the auto industry

2009 L.A. Auto Show: ’11 Porsche Boxster Spyder Debut

Porsche is one of the few automakers that understands subtraction as a way of improving a car. Case in point, the Boxster Spyder: a stunning, minimalist roadster.

Porsche cut nearly 200 pounds of weight out of the Spyder compared to the Boxster

Porsche cut nearly 200 pounds of weight out of the Spyder compared to the Boxster

The third variation of mid-engine roadster is the lightest car Porsche sells, at 2,811 pounds it’s 176 pounds lighter than a Boxster S with the manual gearbox. Aluminum door skins with lightweight interior panels from the 911 GT3 RS add to a minimalist approach. The new carbon and canvas top weighs a scant 13 pounds. Other weight reduction measures include stripping out the radio, air conditioning and cupholders. A new sport suspension lowers the Spyder 20mm or eight-tenths of an inch.

In addition to lightweight, the Spyder benefits from a 10 horsepower boost over the Boxster from the 3.4-liter, direct-injection flat-six engine, which puts out 320 ponies with 270 lb.-ft. of torque. Transferring that power to the road is either a six-speed manual gearbox or PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission both feeding a limited-slip differential.

The lightweight top adorning the Boxster Spyder looks a bit complicated. Let's hope it operates as quickly as the car accelerates.

The lightweight top adorning the Boxster Spyder looks a bit complicated. Let’s hope it operates as quickly as the car accelerates.

When equipped with PDK and using launch-control, the Boxster romps from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. Top speed on the racetrack is 166 mph with the top down.

While Porsche has sold limited-edition Boxsters with the Spyder name, there is no mistaking that this is a different car. The roofline is chopped and the low-slung top extends further back onto a distinctive twin-bulge rear deck.

The Spyder goes on sale in February 2010 starting at $61,200.

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