Frank F.

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Pacific Porsche party

Pacific Porsche hosted a little preview of Saturday's official unveiling of the all-new 2011 Porsche Cayenne – smaller, sleeker and superior to its predecessor in almost every way.

Pacific had several of them, enough to let everyone climb all over them... and drive them. The new model is better in every appreciable way, but partuclarly in the styling department. The new one instantly makes the old one look dated, with a revised snout that mimics the Panamera fascia and a center stack inside that again echos Porsche's newest sedan.

Pacific also had a few V6 Panameras in stock, allowing patrons to test drive them, along with the V8 versions. While the V8-powered four-doors start around $100,000, the V6 Panamera and Panamera 4 were priced at 71 and 78 respectively.

That's quite a price disparity for two extra cylinders, but by making a few V8-standard features options on the V6, Porsche now offers a much more affordable sedan to compete with the Mercedes CLS among others.

Tells that that Panamera in your mirrors is a budget-edition bent-six include the black window trim on the V6 as well as the black brake calipers. Porsche uses a black/silver/red/yellow brake hierarchy to signify base, S, Turbo and Turbo S or special in its lineup.

True to form, the new Panamera V6 gets the black calipers, while the S model gets the V8 and silver binders. Step up to the Turbo and you get the reds. A 911 Turbo also on hand had the yellow calipers, which made us do a double- and triple-take before we realized we were actually looking at the new 2011 Turbo S!

This new-for-2011 model adds 30 horsepower to the Turbo's 500 hp rating, and about 50 grand to the sticker. The one that Pacific had on hand was an all black cabriolet that stickered for 180,000. It had those sick center-lock RS Spyder wheels done up in body-color matching gloss black, which added 1490 bucks to the bottom line.

The 2011 Porsche Turbo S comes standard with awd, the Sport Chrono package, Torque Vectoring, PSM, ABS, ASR, PASM, the Porsche Composite Ceramic brakes (with yellow calipers) and Porsche's PDK dual-clutch, paddle-shift transmission.

As if that wasn't enough, Pacific also rolled out the new Boxster Spyder and a gray and red GT3 RS. Talk about overkill. The Boxster Spyder is the new lightweight, roadster version of the popular convertible, with extra oomph and fewer doodads. It is the lightest Porsche in their model lineup, weighing in at just 2,811 pounds, or 176 less than the Boxster S. In true Spyder form, the occasional use canvas top limits top speed to just 125 miles per hour. Unsnap the two-piece toupee and top speed rises to 166 mph.

Porsche expects this car to go topless the vast majority of the time, and when that top is stowed under the new one-piece rear bootlid, you see the other major styling difference – the double bubble rear deck that evokes memories of the Carrera GT as much as it does the single bulges on some 550 Spyders, RS and RSK models.

It's the hardcore Boxster S with a temporary top that isn't approved for carwashes. Lighter, with ten more hp from its 3.4-liter flat-6 (now 320), the Spyder starts at $61,200. Air conditioning is a $1,760 option.

The GT3 RS deserves a mention here too. This is the car that debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show last September, the car on the stand still showing the road grime from its 180+ mile-per-hour drive into Frankfurt after the car was completed the day before the show in Stuttgart. The transport truck wouldn't have gotten it there fast enough.

This all-new 911 GT3 RS features the new 3.8-liter flat-six that produces 450 horsepower. That's 15 more than the regular GT3. It comes only with the six-speed manual and is instantly recognizable for its tall carbon fiber rear wing and its contrasting paint schemes.

The 2010 911 GT3 RS was also one of the first applications of Porsche's new lithium-ion battery option that sheds another 22 pounds from the car's 3,020-lb curb weight. The 911 GT3 RS started showing up a couple of months ago with a price tag of $132,800.

So five new models to keep us entertained, along with plenty of food and drink, and wonderfully hospitable and patient hostesses – It was a pretty great event.

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