Three decades after the debut of the Porsche Boxster concept, the up-until-very-recently-thought-unthinkable has happened: it’s now got a very senior 911 engine. To all intents and purposes, the 718 Spyder RS is a GT4 RS without a roof - thrilling enough a prospect as it is - although there is more to the Spyder than even that spellbinding description suggests. Plus, well, even when the Cayman arrived, a GT3-engined Boxster still didn’t seem guaranteed. The spy shots strongly hinted at the prospect but, despite that, this still feels like a nice surprise. A 500hp, 9,000rpm, mid-engined, flat-six Porsche roadster does promise quite a lot. Imagine the sound with those infamous head-height intakes and no roof...
The 4.0-litre naturally aspirated flat-six and seven-speed PDK are carried over wholesale from the Cayman. With a 1,410kg kerbweight that’s actually five kilos less its sibling, and 40kg under a 718 Spyder PDK (more on that in a sec), performance is near enough identical. That means 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds, 0-124mph in 10.9 and 191mph flat out. Very, very rapid, then. The less exciting numbers are rated at 21.7mpg and 294g/km.
Though the Spyder RS is clearly very closely related to the GT4 equivalent - Porsche even suggests that the NACA-ducted front end is ‘almost identical’ to the coupe - there are notable differences. The ducktail, for example, which replaces the fixed wing of the GT4 while maintaining an aero balance and ‘maximum driving stability at high speed'. The roof is the most obvious one, though, Porsche having resurrected a lightweight manual roof like the old 987 Spyder. Comprised of just a sun sail and weather deflector, the single-layer protection weighs just 18.3kg - or 16.5kg less than the system in a standard 718 - and 7.6kg lighter than the roof used on a non-RS Spyder. Despite this, the promise is of ‘effective protection against rain when the side windows are raised’. Both bits can be stowed in the car (though it’s not clear how easy that process will be) or the sun sail used alone as a ‘Bimini top’, again like the old Spyder, to protect bald heads from the sun.
Furthermore, while the Spyder RS gets the usual roster of Porsche GT suspension bits - 30mm lower PASM, adjustable camber, ride height and bars, ball-jointed bearings - there is a setup difference. And anyone who found the Cayman a bit much on the road will be glad to read it: ‘Compared to the 718 Cayman GT4 RS, spring and damper rates have been reduced to achieve a more relaxed, characteristically convertible-style set-up’. A 718 RS that can thrill on track but also feel properly at home on the road (in a way the Cayman never quite does) would be sensational.
The rest of the package is as might be expected: loadsa carbon and Alcantara for that charmingly old-school interior, a Weissach Package for those who insist on spending more money than is strictly necesary (forged mag wheels, 935-titanium exhaust tips) and a model-specific watch for those must just have everything. Regardless of how it looks.
“The 718 Spyder RS raises driving pleasure to a new level for open-top cars,” said Andreas Preuninger. “The combination of our unmistakable GT3 engine, the close-ratio transmission, compact dimensions, low weight, road-optimised racing suspension and maximum openness offers an extremely compelling and unfiltered driving experience.” In case you weren’t excited enough, eh? If today is the day you find out that a Porsche 718 Spyder RS costs £123,000, then it seems unlikely you’ll be paying £123,000 for one, even if you take the watch and the Weissach as well. But it’s on sale now for the faithful and will be seen at Goodwood in July, so hopefully the first few are here for the last of the summer sun. You’ll certainly hear it coming…
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