It's fair to say the 718 generation of Cayman and Boxster hasn't garnered the unanimous enthusiasm that marked out its predecessor's life cycle. The 981, particularly in its latter guises, was treated like a thing of wonder - and while its replacement was very good, too, it has always been rather limited by how much you deigned to like its all-new flat-four engine. Some people didn't at all - and that rather did it for the Cayman/Boxster's previously untouchable reputation as the all-court rear-drive sports car to buy.
Launching a GT4 and Spyder version of the 718 isn't necessarily going to fix that - because you'll be extremely lucky to get your hands on one for their respective £75,348 and 73,405 starting prices - but official confirmation that a naturally-aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six sits at the heart of both models is likely to ensure a near reverential response from Porsche's substantial and big-spending fan base.
Of course we already knew a larger engine was inbound; now though we know that it will output 420hp in both 718 models (35hp more than the previous GT4; 45hp more than the Spyder) and develop 310lb ft of torque from 5,000rpm. The 718's own 4.0-litre unit - a bored-out derivative of the current 911 engine, shorn of its turbocharger and dubbed 9A2 Evo - boasts a new adaptive cylinder control system and Piezo injectors, alongside a variable intake system.
Porsche says the maximum engine speed in this guise is 8,000rpm - lower than the 9,000rpm the latest 911 Speedster revs to with the updated GT3 motor - but with the six-speed manual gearbox all present and correct and a 4.4-second 0-62mph time in the offing, buyers are unlikely to grumble too much at the deficit - not with its maker promising an "untouched" flat-six sound.
Elsewhere it will likely be Spyder buyers in higher spirits. For all the praise justly heaped on the 981 variant, the previous model was not strictly speaking a product of Porsche Motorsport and therefore did not share the GT4-specific chassis. Now though, the "superior cornering dynamics" of the coupe have migrated to the Spyder, meaning it gets the same "motorsport-bred" refinements to the 981's suspension, including a 30mm reduction in ride height alongside Porsche's torque vectoring mechanical limited slip rear differential and "ultra-high performance" tyres.
It also gets a new functional diffuser at the back, which is said to account for 30 per cent of the GT4's rear-end downforce - although inevitably it is the coupe which boasts a more comprehensive aerodynamic suite. A remodelled fixed wing produces 20 per cent more downforce than before, helping to contribute a 50 per cent improvement overall without 'adversely' affecting drag. A larger front spoiler lip and air curtains to the side complete's the 'GT' look.
The Spyder makes do with a conventional rear spoiler which pops up automatically at 74mph, although Porsche cites the new diffuser when it describes the car is the first in the Boxster lineup to generate significant downforce over the back axle. Of slightly greater relevance to its buyers will be confirmation that a lightweight fabric roof returns, which can be stowed up under the boot lid in "just a few steps".
GT4 customers will know what to expect from the coupe, and Porsche makes no bones about the model's, "sharper handling characteristics" or the fact that its chassis has been revised "for use on the race track". To that end - as with the GT3 - a Clubsport package will again be available, and will include a rear steel roll cage, a hand-held fire extinguisher and a six-point harness for the driver.
Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes are also on the option list if heavy-duty circuit work is on the cards, although the standard system has been uprated, regardless. No word yet on exactly how much weight those new brakes are bringing to a halt, but its maker claims that the GT4 is more than ten seconds faster than its predecessor around the Nordschieife. That seems consistent with the power upgrade - now we just have to wait and see if it's subjectively better, too. Place your bets.
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