The new Porsche 718 Spyder is a special edition inspired by the Porsche 550 Spyder of the 1950s. It is the first time that the Spyder is based on track-focussed Cayman GT4. Is this what Porsche purist have been looking for? We went to Scotland to find out!
The 718 Spyder is powered by a newly developed 4.0 six-cylinder naturally aspirated boxer engine which is based on the 9A2 Evo engine family of the 992. It produces 420hp and 420Nm of torque with a redline at 8,000 rpm. 0-100 km/h is done in 4.4 seconds, 0-200 km/h takes a mere 13.8 seconds (one full second faster than the predecessor). At launch it comes exclusively with a six speed manual gearbox but the Porsche 718 Spyder will also be offered with a PDK gearbox in about a year.
I’m very excited Porsche chose to keep a six-cylinder naturally aspirated engine for the Spyder and the Cayman GT4. But ever stricter emission regulations around the globe required several new technologies to be introduced to make the Porsche 718 Spyder compliant. These include adaptive cylinder control which does not inject fuel into three of the six cylinders under partial load and at low rpm. Start / Stop systems might be common on every day cars but it is the first time Porsche implemented it on one of their GT cars. There are two gasoline particulate filters to filter exhaust gasses which obviously affect the sound a bit.
Another thing that affects the sound of the new Porsche 718 Spyder tremendously is compliance with the EU regulation for noise emission from cars. Even with the exhaust button engaged the flaps are closed below 4,000 rpm and around 50 km/h. Oh and forget about revving your new Spyder, Brussel decided you are no longer allowed to do that, as a result the engine produces limited revs in neutral.
Having said that there is still plenty of joy to extract from the new Porsche 718 Spyder. Opt out of the Porsche Comand Online infotainment system and all you will have is a fabulous engine, a manual gearbox and a handful of settings you can change. These include a normal and hard suspension setting to control the adaptive dampers, ESP and traction control settings and a button to enable an automatic throttle blip on gear changes. The latter is something that I missed on the not quite as purist 911 T. Looking for Sport mode? It isn’t there. It is the way it is out of the box.
It has significantly less downforce and a bit more drag as its brother the Cayman GT4 but thanks to the wing that extends automatically above 120 km/h and improved diffuser it is the first Boxster which generates downforce at the rear axle. It is also the first ever Boxster to have a top speed above 300 km/h. With the roof up you can reach the 301 km/h top speed in relative comfort, without roof be prepared for some hairs to be ripped out of your head. In comparison to the Cayman GT4 it is only a mere 2-3 seconds a lap slower around the Nurburgring Nordschleife.
The 718 Spyder is almost as stiff as the GT4 which makes that despite having no roof it handles very much like the GT4. Steering is very direct and corners can be taken at a ridiculous rapid pace. The mid-engine setup provides excellent balance. When the exhaust flaps open above 4,000 rpm the ride is also accompanied with a full bodied sound track, it is just such a shame it is so quiet below the EU threshold.
The Porsche 718 Spyder has a relatively limited list of optional extras compared to other Porsches. The PCCB ceramic brakes should be considered for those planning to track their Spyders but if you predominantly drive on the road you can just as well keep the money in your pocket and do without the squeaking of the PCCB. One optional extra that is definitely worth considering are the carbon fibre race seats. They fit neatly even for slightly taller people like myself and provide excellent side support.
The new Porsche 718 Spyder is the most purist modern Porsche yet. Opt out of PCM and you have the ultimate roofless Porsche to enjoy on the road without distraction. The few remaining gadgets like the adaptive dampers and auto blip give just that little but extra flexibility to appeal to as many sports car enthusiasts as possible. If you are looking for a no nonsense, highly engaging sports car this is it!