Chasing 0-60 times can be exhilarating. But cars like the Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman show that there’s more to driving fun than just raw numbers. Especially the Porsche 718 Spyder and Cayman GT4, the sharpest, most hard-core variants of the brand’s relatively-affordable sports cars. But if you’re going to carve up a road or a racetrack, which do you bring? The coupe, or the convertible? YouTube team Throttle House tried to find out.
2020 Porsche 718 Spyder vs. 718 Cayman GT4: specs and features
The 718 Boxster and Cayman have always shared platforms, even before they shared a name. But unlike the previous Boxster Spyder, the current one rides on exactly the same platform as the 2020 Porsche Cayman GT4, Automobile reports. No additional bracing needed. As a result, their curb weights are almost identical, Car and Driver reports. The Spyder weighs 3136 pounds, and the Cayman GT4 weighs 3149 pounds.
The Porsche 718 Spyder and Cayman GT4 also share the same engine. Instead of a turbocharged four-cylinder, they have a 4.0-liter flat-six derived from the current 911’s, Car and Driver reports. It develops 414 hp and 309 lb-ft, sent to the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual and a limited-slip differential. The Porsche 718 Spyder and Cayman GT4 are so serious about performance, they even have adaptive transmission mounts, MT reports. And if you want the best possible lap time, a PDK automatic is available.
That six-cylinder engine isn’t the only difference between a standard 718 Boxster/Cayman and the 718 Spyder/Cayman GT4. Both cars have suspension taken from the 911 GT3, Autoweek reports, as well as adjustable active dampers and functional aero. That suspension is fully-adjustable, Roadshow reports, as are the anti-roll bars. They also ride 1.2” lower than the base models, TFLcar reports, and have different stability control tuning.
The Porsche 718 Spyder and Cayman GT4 come standard with steel disc brakes. But the optional carbon-ceramic ones are larger, and yet weigh half as much. Porsche’s brake-based torque-vectoring system, though, is standard.
The Porsche 718 Spyder and Cayman GT4 aren’t about the numbers
Both the Porsche 718 Spyder and Cayman GT4 are fairly quick. The former can go 0-60 in 4 seconds, Car and Driver reports, and the latter in 3.7 seconds. But the Tesla Model 3 Performance can go 0-60 in 3 seconds, and it has 4 doors and more seats. And the cheaper Shelby GT500 is both more powerful and faster to 60.
And considering their price tags, which hover around $100k, they don’t offer a lot of luxury features. There are no ADAS options, such as emergency braking or lane-keeping assist. While they have navigation with Apple CarPlay, it’s the last-gen system, Roadshow reports, and there’s no Android Auto. Plus, the optional fixed-back sport seats may be too well-bolstered for some.
But once you put your foot down and turn the wheel, all of that falls away. Autoweek describes the suspension as “divinely engineered.” It’s stiff, but it’s not actually all that harsh. And it makes for excellent handling and “delightful balance through the corners,” MT reports.
It’s matched by the steering, which Car and Driver reports is both full of feeling and extremely quick. Roadshow muses that it “should be the benchmark for all of Porsche’s future sports cars,” it’s that good. All this means you know exactly what the Spyder and GT4 are doing when you point them at a corner.
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Then there’s the engine and transmission. Yes, the exhaust can be loud. But it’s worth it to hear the flat-six redline at 8000 RPM. And Automobile claims the 6-speed manual “is simply one of the greatest manual throws ever to grace a performance car.” The only downside is somewhat-tall gearing, though that’s easily rectified.
Which should you buy?
Driving the Porsche 718 Spyder and 718 Cayman GT4, then, isn’t about the numbers. It’s what those numbers translate to. Which, in this case, is driving joy. Choosing between them, then, depends on what you value more.
If you’re after the emotional, visceral road-going experience, the Spyder is the better buy, MT reports. Just make sure to keep an eye on the weather, because the manual top is a bit time-consuming to put up. But if you’re looking for a track weapon, the Cayman GT4 is the one to get.
That being said, both of these cars’ price tags put them only $15,000 down from a Porsche 911 Carrera S. It’s not quite as sharp, but it’s still an excellent sports car that’s available with a 6-speed manual. It also makes 443 hp from its 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged flat-six, is more comfortable to ride in, and has 4 seats. But, if you’re OK with the PDK, a base 911 Carrera is actually slightly cheaper than the 718 Spyder. And it has the same 0-60 time, despite being down 35 hp.
But then, what does comparing 0-60 times matter to you?
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