Spy shots: 2011 Porsche Cayman test-mule

Spy shots: 2011 Porsche Cayman test-mule
Porsche is currently readying its facelifted Cayman range for launch 2009 but the sports carmaker is also working on the next-generation of the car due in late 2011. This timeline coincides with the recent announcement by Porsche that its contract with Finland’s Valmet Automotive will end around the same time, with the new Cayman and Boxster sibling to be manufactured under a new deal with Austria’s Magna Steyr.

Telltale signs that a new platform is residing under the familiar 987 sheet metal are the extended wheel arches, revealing a wider track that is set to appear on the new model. This means the new car should be slightly bigger than the current model, while handling and dynamics should also see an improvement. The roll-cage fitted on this test car is another indication that the new platform is still in the early stages.

It’s still too early to determine what changes Porsche has in store for the engine lineup, but expect to see the familiar flat-six engine range carry over with only minimal updates – possibly for emissions and economy standards. The new PDK dual-clutch gearbox, which is expected to be added to the facelifted version, will also carry over as will a standard six-speed manual.

Around the same time the next-generation Cayman is due, Porsche is also expected to release its all-new 998 911 range.

Spy shots: 2011 Porsche Cayman test-mule

The current 997 Porsche 911 is still being updated for its mid-cycle refresh, with only the standard Carrera and Carrera 4, plus their performance ‘S’ variants, receiving the update. Still in the works are the new Turbo and the GT3 models, though they too are drawing near to their expected unveiling. Recently a test mule was spotted in Germany by our spy photographers, suggesting that Porsche engineers may have already begun testing the next-generation 998 model, and then Porsche's chief of research and development, Wolfgang Dürheimer, revealed some details of what to expect from the next-gen 911. Now we have video of the car in testing on the famous German circuit.

The video shows the next-generation 998 911 carving the corners with ease, remaining very flat throughout and generally showing a composition that reflects the tremendous amount of engineering that underpins the modern 911. The tail-happy ways of decades past have been thoroughly sorted, and the car exhibits neutral, stable characteristics even at the limit, if the sound of the singing tires is any indication. All of this confirms what the man behind the 998's development has to say about it.

Speaking of the new car, Dürheimer said, "'It will be even more competent, even sexier, even more unique. The design can of course only be evolutionary, but beneath the skin, almost anything is possible," reports CAR magazine. The 998 version of the car, known internally as 'project 991', will feature a few radical departures from the 911's long-running classical styling.

The changes are out of necessity more than anything, but they will be noticeable. First, pedestrian protection rules in the EU will require a change to the nose section of the car, likely meaning a larger and more collapsible bumper section. The rear of the car will also be changed, but for aerodynamic improvement. Finally, the side mirrors will likely be deleted since they can be replaced with cameras and screens for improved aerodynamic efficiency.

Other new features for the car will include heavy use of lightweight carbon fiber materials and active aerodynamics - surfaces that react to what the car is doing, and how fast it's doing it. Expect adjustable front and rear spoilers plus dynamically opening and closing air intakes. So far, few of these changes have been hinted by the test mule seen testing, but there are a few key details that reveal the new car is already in development.

Some of the telltale signs that a new platform is residing under the familiar 997 sheet metal are the extended wheel arches, revealing a wider track is set to appear on the new model. This means the new car should be slightly bigger than the current model, while handling and dynamics should also see an improvement. The roll-cage fitted on this test car is another indication that the 998 platform is still in the early stages.

It’s still too early to determine what changes Porsche has in store for the engine lineup, but expect to see the familiar flat-six engine range carry over with only minimal updates – possibly for emissions and economy standards. The new PDK dual-clutch gearbox will also carry over as will a standard six-speed manual. Rumors of a possible four-cylinder addition to the 911 lineup, effectively bringing back the 912, and the revival of the 914 are shaking things up, however, so at this point nearly anything seems possible.

According to Dürheimer, the next 911 won't make sales floors until late 2011, but we expect to see much more of the car from spy photographers as it develops.
Spy shots: 2011 Porsche Cayman test-mule Spy shots: 2011 Porsche Cayman test-mule Spy shots: 2011 Porsche Cayman test-mule Spy shots: 2011 Porsche Cayman test-mule

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