UPDATE - 16.08.18
Porsche is putting the finishing touches to its sharpest and fastest Boxster yet, as shown by new spy pictures of an undisguised 718 Spyder being flung around the carousel at the Nurburgring. Due for reveal later this summer before arriving on roads in the winter, the new, driver-focused drop-top will eschew turbocharged boxer power for - hooray - a naturally-aspirated flat-six, plucked directly from the 911 GT3.
What output the motor - which is capable of revving to 9000rpm in the GT3 - will produce in the Boxster is yet to be revealed. There is, however, growing suspicion that the peak horsepower figure could start with a 4, which would make this midship convertible, a successor to a car that pushed the Boxster Spyder bar up into the stratosphere, one very serious performance proposition. We await the car's launch with bated breath.
ORIGINAL STORY - 01.02.18
It's easy to characterize the last Boxster Spyder: it was absolutely the best version Porsche ever made. Hands down, no argument. It was this way because - having long held back from making the 981 generation as good as it could be so as not to overtly challenge the superiority of the 911 - Zuffenhausen finally yielded to buyer demand (and manifest destiny) and installed the 3.8-litre flat-six in its mid-engined model.
It helped of course that the Spyder was very much the sister car of the Cayman GT4, was only available with a manual six-speed gearbox and had shed rather a lot of weight - most notably from the electric mechanism that previously powered the roof. Looking spectacular didn't hurt either; the signature twin hump rear deck being even more pronounced than it was in the 987 version.
With the template now well established, it's fair to say we've been rather looking forward to the next iteration - and the latest spy shots of it from Porsche's winter testing base don't do anything to dispel the sentiment. Nor does the suggestion that the 718 model will now get the same 4.0-litre naturally-aspirated engine as used in the 911 GT3.
The appeal of seeing (and hearing) Porsche Motorsport's 500hp, 9,000rpm masterpiece in a Boxster (not to mention the next Cayman GT4) would be self-evident against any backdrop, but it's made to seem doubly so by the varying degrees of disgruntlement focused on the 718's turbocharged flat-four. Whatever you think of that engine, the contrast with an atmospheric and twice-larger capacity flat-six is likely to be striking, even if Zuffenhausen chooses to mildly detune its output.
That seems probable given the hallowed positioning of the GT3 in the 911 lineup, but as the Spyder (and GT4) can be expected to significantly outdo the 365hp delivered by the recently launched GTS, it is unlikely to be by much. And while the option of a seven-speed PDK is likely to be made available this time round, the six-speed manual transmission will remain the default fixture.
Also standard will be the Spyder's long-running diet plan. As the pictures show, the soft-top is set to return in manual format, and Porsche is presumed to have again done away with the model's sound deadening (good) as well as its infotainment and climate control (not so good - but expect their reinstatement to be a no-cost option). Expect too the price to have gone up: it won't have escaped Zuffenhausen's notice that the 981 car immediately appreciated in value once registered, and the manufacturer will (correctly) assume that its 4.0-litre engine rather adds to the lustre.
Images: S.Baldauf/S.B. Medien