We’ve known since last summer that Porsche would launch a more sporting variant of the ever-popular Cayman before the year-end, and whilst speculation was rife about its nomenclature it was never likely to be called a CS.

Instead Porsche have chosen to call it the Cayman R and if you’re familiar with Porsche naming convention then you’ll already realise that such a distinction is important. The Porsche alphabet reserves the letter R for very special sports cars in its range: R for responsive and refined – but most especially for racy. Porsche claims that the new Cayman R combines all these attributes without compromise.

To clarify any doubts that may emerge over the ‘R’ designation, Porsche will not be offering an optional ‘track pack’ for the Cayman R (i.e. half-cage, harnesses etc), their rationale being that it’s not a 911 GT3 Club Sport type of car – the 911 remains the motorsport standard bearer for Porsche – however it will be more than up to task of being used on the track, just as the Boxster Spyder is.

With 55 kilograms (121 lb) less weight to carry around and with ten horsepower more than the Cayman S, the new mid-engine coupé from Porsche is designed principally for road use and with its specially adapted sports chassis, it provides an even more precise driving experience than the Cayman S.

The new mid-engine coupé is powered by the same 3.4-litre 326 bhp six-cylinder engine already fitted in the Boxster Spyder. In standard configuration it transmits its power to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox that propels the car from 0 to 62 mph in 5.0 seconds. Or there is the option of the seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) that reduces this acceleration increment to just 4.9 seconds. For even more impressive sprinting performance, the Cayman R can be supplied with one of the optional Sport Chrono packages, reducing the 62 mph sprint down to 4.7 seconds.

The new mid-engine coupé is capable of a top speed of 175 mph (282 km/h) with the manual gearbox, or 174 mph (280 km/h) with PDK. Its NEDC fuel consumption is 29.12 mpg (imp) with six-speed gearbox and 30.37 mpg (imp) with PDK. The main aim during the design of the Cayman R was to improve the two-seater even further in its performance, driving dynamics and agility through consistent weight reduction. With a DIN unladen weight of just 1,295 kilograms (2855 lb) the Porsche engineers were able to reduce the power-to-weight ratio of the coupé with standard manual gearbox to just 3.9 kilograms per horsepower, and 4.0 kilograms per horsepower for the PDK version.

Porsche have focused on reducing weight through removal of convenience equipment and the user of lightweight components - the result is a loss of 55 kg compared to the Cayman S achieving a DIN unladen weight of 1,295 kg.

The largest savings were achieved through the use of lightweight components and doing without convenience equipment. As for the 911 GT3/GT3 RS and Boxster Spyder, an optional lithium-ion lightweight construction battery is also available. In addition, the top model in the mid-engine coupé is equipped with the lightest 19 inch wheels the entire Porsche range can offer. The complete rim set weighs less than 40 kilograms.

The Cayman R’s purpose and purist character can be seen at first glance. The extended silhouette of the bodywork, which has been lowered by 20 millimetres (0.79 in) compared to the Cayman S, combined with the distinctive fixed rear spoiler, the high-quality silver-painted wheels and numerous sporting highlights on both the interior and exterior, ensures an individual appearance. The black-framed headlights, black exterior mirrors and the “PORSCHE” lettering on the side – in contrasting black or silver, depending on the body colour – take design cues from classic Porsche racing cars.

The “R” designation first appeared on a Porsche with the 911 R of 1967. It was created for racing sport use in a small series of 19 cars. The “R” was a prototype based on the standard coupé with a 210 horsepower Carrera 6 engine and, thanks to its many plastic components and extremely sparse equipment, weighed only 830 kilograms (1830 lb).

[styledbox type=”general” width=”600″ align=”center”]Watch the driving footage of the New Cayman R on SkiddPlayer[/styledbox]

The new Porsche Cayman R will go on sale from February 2011 after being launched at today’s LA Auto Show. It will retail in the UK at £51,731 list or around £57,000 when fitted with those all-important PCCBs. We’ll have further information and pictures later in the day and will be broadcasting a live Porsche webcast from Los Angeles at 18:55 GMT (19:55 CET) later today. Visit our LA webcast page at https://transmission-one.com/lawebcast for more information.