Porsche 718 4.0 2dr
Going through the evolution of the Boxster Spyder was key, because what we’ve ended up with here is a tangibly different car to its forebears. Porsche still describes it as the road-biased car to complement the track-oriented Cayman GT4, but never have the two felt closer.
Older Spyders had more modest suspension, less grip and a fluid, accessible feeling on the road. They were fun, easy-going and just a bit less laser-focused on outright cornering speed than a GT4. Not so much here. This is much harder and grittier than previous Spyders, with notably less delicacy to the way it goes about its business.
But there’s a nice incongruity to seeing such a beautiful shape draped across such a resolute chassis. There’s actual downforce from its diffuser for god’s sake. And complaining that a car drives ‘too much like a Cayman GT4’ is rather like accusing a meal of tasting ‘too much like medium-rare steak’. It’s obviously a deeply talented thing.
Everything we know and love about Porsche Motorsport products, and their sublime tactility, is here. The supremely slick gearchange, which has benefited here from a shorter throw. The steering, which is borderline magical for an electronic setup. The deliciously progressive brake pedal, so good as standard you can do without the optional carbon-ceramics. The Spyder treatment sees nearly everything wrapped in Alcantara, too, so its controls all feel magnificent even before you’ve properly used them.
The engine is definitely down on character, mind, compared to both GT3-level Porsches and the old Spyder. Its best noises are approaching its 8,000rpm limit, but in the middle of the rev range where you’ll spend most of your time (second gear stretches past 80mph, after all) it doesn’t sound or feel quite as delightful as before. It feels more like an old Boxster GTS used to. Still pretty effing good, just not superlatively so.
Those pesky emissions regulations are sucking the fun out of our favourite sports cars, and this is one that’s tangibly suffered, at least from inside the cabin. Shortly after we drove the 718 Spyder, we followed it down the road with someone else at the wheel, and can confirm other road users will still get a ‘Le Mans at 3am’ vibe when this engine is punching through the air on a cold, misty day. Phew.
The net result of all of the above is a car that makes you grit your teeth rather than grin like an idiot, a slightly key change over the previous Spyder, which didn’t encourage your utmost commitment every time you drove it. This one kind of demands it. It exhibits a focus, precision and firmness that’s absent in all other Boxster-shaped things. It makes their gearchange feel slack, their steering vague and their brakes soft. Which, if you’ve ever driven a something like a Boxster T in isolation, would seem like an absolutely ludicrous bunch of accusations.
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