It's commonly accepted that Porsche's 718 GT4/Spyder and 4.0 GTS models are some of the most engaging sports cars money can buy right now. Much is due to the brilliance of their naturally aspirated flat sixes, and the poise of their respective chassis. But a lot can also be attributed to the tactility of the six-speed manual that they all come with as standard; it's easily one of the most satisfying gearboxes currently on sale. That the GT4 and Spyder have always been manual seemed quite significant, too, a real stand by Porsche given the proliferation of automatics throughout the industry.
Which is why to some, the introduction of a PDK option to the line-up may seem somewhat unimportant - the cars are about the interaction of a manual, first and foremost, so the auto won't be considered. For those who do prefer two pedals, however - and there will surely be plenty - the spec sheet makes for happy reading. Not having to wait for a fleshy thing in the driver's seat to depress a clutch pedal and move a lever through the gate means that the 420hp flat-six GT4 and Spyder can now hit 62mph in 3.9 seconds, half a second better than before and the first time a Boxster or Cayman has dipped below four seconds from the factory. And secondly, that they can both complete the 0-124mph dash in 13.4 seconds, four tenths faster than the manual versions.
It's much the same story for the 400hp GTS 4.0 models; both the Cayman and Boxster variants shed five tenths from the 4.5-second 0-62mph time of their manual equivalents. Their 0-124mph times are 13.7 seconds, which is four tenths better than before.
Along with the PDK's much-quicker shifts, blipped downshifts, and the auto 'box's integration with the drive modes - Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual - it also adds Launch Control to the armoury. Porsche's Sport Response button, which instantly selects a gear to send the engine into its peak window of performance for 20 seconds, returns, too. Anyone familiar with the system from other auto Porsches will know how handy it is when a B-road overtaking opportunity suddenly arises.
The PDK's seventh ratio is also more tightly stacked against the six before it, which when coupled to the quicker change times, ought to make the auto more eager at speed. PDK-equipped GT4s and Spyders get an enhanced mechanical rear limited slip diff, too, capable of locking to a higher percentage than the manual one. Porsche says in "traction and over-run modes", the new diff achieves 30 and 37 per cent of respective lock, compared with 22 and 27 per cent in the six-speed equivalent.
The results equate to "a positive effect on straight line acceleration and cornering dynamics as well as overall traction", so says Porsche, which even those not able to visualise the impact of the aforementioned numbers can understand to be good things. Not surprisingly, the PDK cars are expected to be the quicker around a lap by some margin; they're also the more efficient offerings, with PDK GTS models good for 28mpg combined and 230g/km of CO2. The GT pairing achieve 26.4mpg combined and 242g/km of CO2 with the auto. It's all predictable stuff; for buyers not desperate to play with three pedals and a lever, it'll no doubt make the PDK deal even sweeter.
Speaking of which, Porsche is asking for an additional £2,303 from buyers selecting the PDK in GTS 4.0 models, which means the PDK GTS 4.0 starts from £67,783. For the GT models, the PDK option adds £2,000 to prices, so the pairing start at £77,780. As usual, then, it'll likely be personal preference, rather than affordability, that decides which transmission a buyer goes for. Expect the PDK to account for a decent chunk of sales, too, because UK sales of recent 911 GT models have been split about 50:50, where both options are available. PDK's potential impact on 718 GTS and GT sales is therefore significant.
Alongside the auto's introduction, the wider two-seater Porsche range gains a few new features for the 2021 model year. Race-Tex fabric, as used in Porsche's motorsport cabins, will replace Alcantara; it uses a highly breathable structure that offers "greater support". Porsche's Python Green paint will become available with the GT4 and Spyder (it's already offered with the GTS models), and the GT4's gorgeous Aurum-coloured 20-inch rims will be offered with the Spyder for the first time. Also, Spyder buyers can now opt for conventional summer tyres (presumably the P Zeros as used on the GTS) rather than the standard-fit Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s, potentially broadening the appeal further. Not that any of these models have ever lacked that particular quality...
Image credit | Harry Rudd (GTS), Sim Mainey (GT4)
1 / 8