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    During December's 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show press preview, Porsche board member Klaus Berning readily admitted that some of the company's newest vehicles were controversial.

    Berning, whose responsibilities include Porsche's worldwide sales and marketing, alluded to the hot debate over whether the recently introduced Panamera four-door luxury sedan is a true Porsche, and whether the company should have ever produced their SUV, the Cayenne.

    To calm the fears that Porsche has lost its way, Berning called the striking 2011 Boxster Spyder out on into the spotlight. It acted like a welcome salve for even the most ardent Porschephiles.

    Unbeknownst to most of the media attending the press event at the LA Auto Show, a handful of journalists had already tested the new Spyder the day before the press conference. AOL Autos already knew the character of the car Berning was just presenting.

    Pure Porsche

    There is no doubt that this sports car deserves the Porsche crest. Perhaps better than any recently introduced model, the Boxster Spyder represents the essence of what makes a Porsche, a Porsche.

    Everywhere you look, there's lightness, simplicity, performance, and design elegance.

    Designers drew inspiration from Porsche's own garage. They looked at the Porsche 356 Speedster from 1948, the 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder, the 1960 718RS60 racer, and 1969 909. These cars share a minimalist approach to motoring that helped build Porsche's reputation as one of the world's premier performance car manufacturers.

    While the new Boxster Spyder is clearly a member of the modern Boxster/Cayman family, the double bumps on the aluminum rear deck clearly recall racing Porsches from decades past. The Spyder's racing-inspired profile helps define the car ... at least when the top is off.

    Porsche designers intended its open cockpit be open nearly all the time. The two-piece top assembly is for occasional use only, so don't expect to see hundreds of Spyders sold in Seattle, Portland or Duluth.

    What's most important about the top is that it properly represents the Spyder's design philosophy. For example, compared to the power top mechanism in the Boxster S, the Spyder's arrangement saves a significant 42 pounds. In place of two separate deck lids on a standard Boxster, the sculpted one-piece aluminum rear deck lid on the Spyder weighs a feathery 22 pounds. The two-piece top fits under the rear deck, plus there is additional room for cargo.

    The fabric and carbon fiber top is really more of a high-tech tent. It keeps rain out and protects the driver and passenger from wind buffeting or scorching sun. However, it provides little security for valuables left in the cockpit, and it's also trickier to get in and out of the Spyder with the top in place.

    The nautical-like Bimini toupee isn't without other drawbacks. The engineer who designed the top can install it in about 90 seconds, but your author's first try required about four minutes. Attesting to the complexity of the mechanism, the owner's manual includes over a dozen steps for erecting the main top. Additionally, once the main top is secure, a secondary rear piece must be fitted to provide full weather protection. Plan on more steps to accomplish that.

    The solution to these issues? Forget about them! They matter almost as little as Porsche's recommended lower top speed with the top in place (125 mph). With the top properly stowed, and with a get-out-of-jail-free card, the Spyder will run to 166 mph.

    Besides, with the top off, it's easier to see how the racing-inspired look of the exterior carries through to the interior. Body-color elements on the transmission tunnel and dash that add to the elemental feel. Depending on color choices, the effect is striking.

    Engineered Liposuction

    Porsche went to great lengths to pare down weight on the Boxster Spyder. For example, while the new Panamera has a power-operated tailgate, the Boxster Spyder's rear deck must be raised manually and is supported by a slender prop-rod operated by a human hand.

    Conscious weight-saving decisions like these further define the Spyder.

    Inside, compared to the elegant aluminum door handles one finds in a Boxster, Cayenne or 911, in the Spyder, one clicks open the doors using simple woven straps. The weight savings total 2.2 pounds.

    Those straps open doors skinned in lightweight aluminum, saving 33 pounds compared to a standard Boxster with steel doors.

    The Boxster's supportive seats also save weight by going without electric power controls. The detail-oriented eye will note that the seatbacks are carbon fiber, helping save 26.4 pounds compared to the seats in a Boxster.

    Air conditioning is a no-cost option that saves 28.6 pounds when left off the car. Given that the Spyder should spend most of its driving life with the top off, A/C is hardly necessary.

    Each of the Spyder's 10-spoke, 19-inch wheels represents saved weight. The set saves 11 pounds compared to the 18-inch rims fitted to a normal Boxster.

    There are even ways to save weight to be found the Boxster Spyder's option list. For about $3,000, drivers can shave 22 pounds from the car's curb weight by substituting a lithium-ion battery in place of the standard lead-acid unit. That works out to be $136 for each saved pound … an expensive diet!

    Without the optional battery, calculated decisions helped Porsche keep the weight of the Boxster Spyder to just 2,811 pounds. This makes the Spyder the lightest current Porsche, and a full 176 pounds lighter than the Boxster S, a sports car already recognized for its lack of mass.

    What "Less" Feels Like

    When designing this car, Porsche engineers knew that for every pound they kept off, the issue would be not what's missing in terms of equipment, but what's been gained in terms of performance.

    Once on the road, you feel every pound that isn't there.

    The thoroughfares around Carmel, California provide a variety of conditions and challenges; we drove everything from interstates to winding mountain paths. The heavily bolstered sport seats positioned this driver perfectly even though they only offered only fore and aft adjustment. Visibility was excellent, especially with the Spyder's top stored in the trunk where it belonged.

    The Boxster Spyder takes to any road like a magnet to iron. It doesn't seem to care about the material (concrete or asphalt) or condition (smooth or pocked). The Spyder just wants to go and go, faster and faster.

    Especially as the roads get twisty and undulating, the Spyder gets happier. The car's fluid feel seems uncanny. Nothing seems to upset the car's balance, deflect it off course, or detach its tires from the pavement. Steering is eager and responsive, almost anticipatory.

    Lightness will do that for you. Porsche's engineers explained that having less mass makes it easier for the suspension to control the car while improving the chassis' ability to comfortably absorb impacts from potholes and other pavement imperfections. Unlike some other sports cars, the Spyder rides supplely.

    Less weight also helps the Spyder's acceleration. Thanks to changes to the engine computer, the Spyder's direct-fuel-injected 3.4–liter flat-six cylinder engine produces 320 horsepower, 10 more than the Boxster S. Less weight combined with more power gives the Spyder a better power-to-weight ratio Porsche 911 S, and results in 0-60 mph times that are under five seconds.

    Many sports cars are faster than the Spyder, but none possess this car's complete sense of poise. Everything works beautifully together from the way the clutch engages to the sublime feeling of the optional short-throw, six-speed manual shift linkage.

    The traditional manual gearbox is standard, and seems appropriate for this car. Porsche also offers their clutchless PDK 7-speed direct-shift transmission as an option. Unfortunately, PDK-fitted vehicles weren't available for our drive, but Porsche engineers claimed that PDK Spyders will be faster 0-60 mph than the standard-shift models, enabling sprints of 4.6-seconds compared to 4.8 seconds.

    Porschephiles Rejoice

    The 2011 Boxster Spyder gives Porsche enthusiasts reason to believe that their beloved company hasn't completely lost its marbles. A Porsche minivan might have done-in the brand's hard-core fans, but the Spyder should rejuvenate the faithful for years to come.

    Yes, we're joking about the minivan.

    The Weissach zealots will revel in the Spyder's ephemeral details, like the fact that not having a standard audio system saves six pounds. Regular buyers will enjoy the fact that, like all Porsches, the list of optional features is extensive. The radio is a no-cost option.

    After a couple hundred miles behind the wheel, we'd recommend the sport exhaust system (the better to hear the engine) and the short-throw shift linkage (in lieu of the PDK option). These options make the Spyder an even better driver's car ... a tough accomplishment by any measure.

    The car goes on sale in February of 2010, with pricing starting at $61,200.

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    Discuss
    1 - 20 of 23 Comments
    beastjn Mar 22, 2011 11:13 AM
    so how much is the anti-radar paint... the stealth paint, as an option???
    Report This
    onesdbound Jan 04, 2010 3:10 PM
    To be an American You drive American If you own a foreign car, it's not too late to save our country. Go and trade it in for An American Made Car and save our country. You can do it! How much money did one person send out of American hands, friends and family, 15 to 40 thousand Dollars per car? You see them at every stop light on our streets. That's what has happened to our country. Unemployment at all time high. It's going to get worse, If they keep on buying non American products and autos. It's just not being Smart if you live in this country! How much can the country takes losing billions to other countries. Try to be an American. People like you and me should put a sign To be an American. You drive American. In their back window of their American made car or truck! Maybe one person can make a different. Support our country! Be an American! Buy American GO USA Posted by: American
    Report This
    tskkyle Dec 13, 2009 10:38 AM
    WOW! It looks the same as it did 50 years ago! WOW ! All I see is over priced eurotrash.......
    Report This
    deady30758 Dec 13, 2009 8:25 AM
    Howdy, Consider inviting would-be Porsche drivers to your dealerships. Not an e-mail, not a letter -a phone call. I'd bet you could triple your sales. Give it a thought! 541-312-9504. Ron Deady Bend, Oregon
    Report This
    peh1127 Dec 13, 2009 6:18 AM
    It is comforting to know that Mr. Roy has determined that this car deserves the Porsche Crest. Thank you Mr. Roy.
    Report This
    gr8bsn Dec 13, 2009 2:37 AM
    Sexy.
    Report This
    wongtpa Dec 13, 2009 2:11 AM
    Nice!
    Report This
    thrilltoys Dec 12, 2009 6:07 PM
    i drive a boxter everyday its verry light verry small and verry quick ,in todays traffic you need a lightweight fast sportscar to get around the redneck driving mustangs , as to the above comment saying boxter is a pormans porsche . your wrong ill take the boxter and keep the fifty k diffrence on a cayman anyday service is great . drives great , never had any major issues , and when im out with your wife in the boxter i swear i will thank you
    Report This
    oscardawn Dec 12, 2009 2:44 PM
    Porche is a beautiful car, but the average "Joe" doesn't realize the astronomical cost for parts and maintainence... one can not get to the engine of the Boxster unless he or she is an mechanic!! Not practical unless one is of the wealthy class.
    Report This
    havaneezer Dec 12, 2009 1:12 PM
    Nice but rather useless for dog shows and wheelchairs.
    Report This
    l5resident Dec 12, 2009 1:12 PM
    What makes a Porsche a Porsche Nazis Jap turbos and curves. Mitsubishi last time i checked in 08 they still made the turbos for Porsche and Dr A.G Porsche who designed the first VW bug was a huge nazi. The boxster is the poor mans porsch kind of like the camaro is a cheap guys viper. .
    Report This
    my16v Dec 12, 2009 12:31 PM
    Some day . . . some day . . .
    Report This
    vanesaundressa Dec 12, 2009 11:58 AM
    Yes it's stylish, no it's NOT a retro look !
    Report This
    christushatesyou Dec 12, 2009 11:31 AM
    looks like the old boxter ate a scion tc. Yawn.
    Report This
    hd444 Dec 12, 2009 11:18 AM
    I have had alot of Porsches 77 78 79 80 87 and 96 911's. I have owned a 944 Turbo. I have owned other cars as well Ferrari 308, and many Datsun Z cars 240's 280's etc. The 911 is a refined sports car. The 96 911 (993) Targa I presently own has 78,500 miles on it and although I have maintained the car at no expense it delivers! The key as with any car but especially with a Porsche you must find the right mechanic that can be trusted. Just because you paya HIGH price for repairs does not mean they are done correctly. Yes the car eats back tires, but with regular oil changes and an occssional clutch it is a GREAT car.
    Report This
    nmcfall9 Dec 12, 2009 11:17 AM
    I have a 1987 911 Carrera which I LOVE!!!! It LOOKS like a Porsche, FEELS like a Porsche and DRIVES like a Porsche. The car is designed to be driven - the front dash is a no-frills display for those who wish to drive, not play and tinker. SATURN has a sport convertible that looks almost exactly like the new Spyder. I think all the nonsense about cute little features and weight, etc. are only an attempt to justify a $60K+ price on a Porsche wanna-be. There is always a right time in a product design to "shoot the engineers". For Porsche I think that time was 1987. Real drivers would still buy that car now and for years to come. nmcfall9
    Report This
    trlpwill Dec 12, 2009 10:16 AM
    Porsches do require maintenance and I am sure that the newer ones are even worse than the 88 3.2L 911 Carrera that I drive daily - they are definately not for the mechanical weak of heart. Mine does not eat tires, however as a 20+ year old daily driver with over 115K miles, it does require very close oversight. I drive it for how it drives, not for how easy it is to maintain. A friend has a 95 3.6L 911 Carrera that does, as one reader noted, eat back tires every 10 to 11K. Perhaps a middle aged woman driving a Carrera creates it own logisitical tail.
    Report This
    gunman1f16 Dec 12, 2009 9:58 AM
    It's UGLY!!! The 911 is/was UGLY!!! Hire an Italian body designer!!!
    Report This
    swoboda Dec 12, 2009 9:55 AM
    Porsche should be embarrassed to sell the Cayenne. It's a piece of crap that supports the Saudis and for brain dead SUV crowd who are too stupid to realize it handles like a lousy truck.
    Report This
    jwwbuilder Dec 12, 2009 9:49 AM
    I have had 2 Porsche Carreras. A 1998 and a 1999. I paid somewhere between 80-90K per. Both were driven by my middle aged wife. The engine in both cars blew up with less than 50K miles. They were routinely serviced by the dealer ($300-400 per). Another fun fact is they ate up a set of rear tires every 10K miles at $ 600 a pair. Worse car(s) I ever owned.
    Report This
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    Porsche debuts the 2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder at the 2009 LA Auto Show. AOL Autos covers the debut.
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