Porsche 718 Spyder Review!
The stunning new 718 Spyder developed by Porsche Motorsport adds a touch of exotic glamour to its thrilling track-bred Cayman GT4 underpinnings!
When it was announced in 2015 that the Porsche Cayman was to be fitted with the 911 Carrera S engine and thus the GT4 born, the prayers of many Porsche enthusiasts the world over were answered. With its mid-mounted engine configuration, I recall the original Cayman GT4 being one of the most exciting cars I had ever experienced.
The Cayman GT4’s slightly less hardcore, but arguably more glamorous sibling was of course the Boxster Spyder. With a distinctive design incorporating rollover hoops behind the front seats and an intricate roof mechanism, the original Boxster Spyder cut quite the dash, and was powered by the same engine as its GT4 stablemate, albeit detuned marginally by 10bhp to 370bhp.
Roll forward to last year and we saw the arrival of the GT4 model in new 718 generation form, developed and tuned by Porsche Motorsport, and particularly welcome as up until that point before the arrival of the latest GTS variants, the line-up had been missing a six-cylinder offering.
The 718 Spyder was launched simultaneously, and it dropped its ‘Boxster’ designation in a nod to the fact that like its GT4 counterpart, it was also a product of Porsche’s Motorsport Division. This is evidenced by the fact that the new Spyder has identical track-bred underpinnings, and therefore the same 414hp (420PS) power-output as the GT4.
My new 718 Spyder press car was beautifully specced in Carrera GT silver with the full Spyder-Classic red and grey alcantara interior, lending the car an exotic appearance with even hints of the Carrera GT hypercar in its lines. In my opinion it is now the best looking model in the 718 range, and looks every inch the road-going racecar.
The Spyder’s front nose is beautifully sculpted with aggressive air scoops, while there is even a 911 GT3 style air intake along the leading edge of the front bonnet. Porsche’s optional PDLS-Plus headlights, characterised by quadruple pinprick LED daytime running lights, add to the super sports appearance of the car.
However, it is at the rear where the real drama of the 718 Spyder’s styling lies, with its retro RS60 Spyder-style rollover hoops, an aggressive diffuser that accounts for 30% of the downforce on the car, and an electronic spoiler that adds another 20%. Like its GT4 counterpart, and indeed GTS siblings, the car can be distinguished from the four-cylinder models in the 718 range by its twin but separate oval exhausts.
While the car looks as cool as James Dean’s original 550 Spyder with the roof down, it is also very attractive with the intricate roof raised. While the various steps involved in operating the fabric roof had me reaching for the manual, one must remember that this is an occasional track-orientated product of Porsche Motorsport, and hence a degree of rood-faffing in the pursuit of weight reduction is more than warranted if it knocks valuable seconds off lap times! The roof is also one of the key talking points of the 718 Spyder.
Settle into the extremely deep carbon fibre bucket seats, and the Spyder’s purity of purpose is clear - driving. With a centre-mounted 8,000rpm rev-counter straight ahead of the perfectly positioned driving seat and a wonderfully slick six-speed manual transmission falling easily to hand, not to mention lashings of sporty alcantara covering the entire cabin, I couldn’t wait to set off.
Aligned to the Spyder’s purpose and character, the car’s centre console is dominated by a selection of driving mode buttons to control the exhaust valves, suspension settings and traction control.
The Spyder is also fitted with Porsche Active Suspension Management, which as well as improving handling, also enhances the car’s stance by lowering it by 30mm. The car’s handling is sublime, and Porsche Torque Vectoring, a mechanical limited-slip differential, and Porsche Stability Management are fitted as standard.
The car’s engine is incredibly fast-revving, with maximum power being available between 5,000 and 6,800 rpm, each segment of the rev-range delivering a different aural delight up to the 8,000 rpm limiter. I particularly enjoyed the auto-blipping feature which at the touch of a button will perfectly rev-match the engine on downshifts.
With such long-gearing, one could almost continuously remain in 2nd or 3rd gear, especially on country roads. Porsche have just added a seven-speed paddle-shift PDK transmission option to their Cayman/Boxster GTS, GT4 and Spyder models, reducing 0-60 times by up to 0.5 seconds, which in the case of the Spyder reduces the sprint to an extremely rapid 3.9 seconds.
Both the 718 Cayman GT4 and Spyder models perfectly fulfil their briefs as mid-mounted, Porsche Motorsport tuned track weapons with sensational styling and an exhilarating drive. The 718 Spyder in particular is a real head—turner, especially with the must-have Spyder Classic interior!
Words & Photography by Robert Kierans
Photographs edited by Dennis Keane (denniskeane.myportfolio.com/recent)