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The Porsche 718 Spyder Lets the GT4 Soak up Some Sun

The 718 Boxster and Cayman may be some of the cheapest Porsches, but in terms of driving dynamics, they’re by no means de-contented. However, the mid-engine sports cars’ standard engines have been repeatedly criticized for their uninspiring sound. The six-cylinder Cayman GT4 partially rectified this. And now, that same engine has found its way into the Boxster, to make the Porsche 718 Spyder.

Porsche 718 Spyder specs and features

Cylinder count isn’t the only thing separating the Porsche 718 Spyder’s engine from the rest of the lineup.

Cutaway diagram of the 2020 Porsche 918 Spyder, showing engine, suspension, and brake hardware
2020 Porsche 718 Spyder cutaway | Porsche

The most powerful 718 Boxster currently available, the Boxster S, has a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, producing 350 hp and 309 lb-ft. The 718 Spyder, meanwhile, uses a 4.0-liter naturally-aspirated six-cylinder, rated at 414 hp and 309 lb-ft. This is the same engine found in the Cayman GT4. Basically, it’s the current-gen 911’s engine, but enlarged and turbo-less.

White 2020 Porsche 718 Spyder being driven down a curvy road
2020 Porsche 718 Spyder | Porsche

As with the GT4, the Porsche 718 Spyder is only available with a 6-speed manual. Compared to the base Boxster, it has a new front bumper, rear spoiler, and rear diffuser, Car and Driver reports. The 718 Spyder also has the 911 GT3’s suspension and brakes, and a roughly 1”-lower ride height. Plus, the standard adaptive dampers come from the GT3 RS, Roadshow reports. A limited-slip differential is also standard, as are Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.

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Unlike the standard Boxster, the Porsche 718 Spyder has a manually-operated roof. However, because parts of the chassis have been strengthened, the Spyder is actually slightly heavier than the base Boxster. But neither of those things detract from the driving experience.

The 718 Spyder really is a Cayman GT4 convertible

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The Porsche 718 Spyder isn’t the fastest-accelerating Boxster model. The 365-hp GTS model, Car and Driver reports, can go 0-60 faster, thanks to its dual-clutch automatic. Though a 0-60 time of 4.1 seconds (with rollout) means the Spyder is by no means slow. However, Porsche’s latest Spyder is less about the numbers and more about the sensations.

Yes, the manually-operated roof is difficult to put up and down, Autoweek reports. Also, the sticky tires create quite a bit of road noise. Plus, Motor1 reports both the Cayman GT4’s and 718 Spyder’s transmissions are geared fairly long. To quote Road & Track, “You can drive the entire length of Angeles Crest Highway, 50 miles, fast, in only third gear.” Which sort of defeats the purpose of a manual. And Android Auto still isn’t available. But behind the wheel, the Porsche 718 Spyder is incredibly fun.

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The suspension may be from the GT3, but the adaptive dampers make it fairly compliant, Roadshow reports. You can drive this car all day and not feel beat up, R&T reports. The steering is incredibly communicative, Car and Driver reports, and perfectly-weighted. And while the Michelin tires may be a bit noisy, with them and the suspension, the Porsche 718 Spyder sticks hard to the road. So hard, the mechanically-identical GT4 is faster around the Nurburgring than the Carrera GT supercar.

Plus, while the top is tricky to work, leaving it down all the time lets you hear the engine rev to 8000 RPM.

Pricing and competition comparison

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The Porsche 718 Spyder doesn’t just have a 911 engine. It’s also priced quite close to the 91; the Spyder’s base price is $96,300. And that doesn’t include features like fixed-bucket seats or navigation.

2020 Mercedes SLC Final Edition
2020 Mercedes SLC Final Edition | Mercedes-Benz

In terms of luxury convertible sports cars, there aren’t too many that can match the 718 Spyder. The Jaguar F-Type doesn’t offer a manual at all, for one. And the soon-to-be-discontinued Mercedes-Benz SLC isn’t exactly a sports car.

Side view of dark blue 2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4, with roof down
2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4 side | Porsche

True, a Porsche 911 Targa is ‘only’ $20,000 more. In terms of daily refinement, it’s arguably the better car. But as with the Cayman GT4, the same things that make the Porsche 718 Spyder harder to live with also make it fun.

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