If you’re looking to get a slice of the 911 action on a slightly lower budget, then the Porsche 718 Spyder could have been made for you. It’s a little like the naughty younger brother, or wild child of the range if you will. It doesn’t ooze pedigree to quite the level of the 911, nor is it as poised or veiled in its performance. In short, it is thoroughly fun to drive so we’re going to give you three things we love about it, and two that weren’t so hot.
1. Driving Position
In our opinion, one of the most important parts of a sports car is the seating and driving position. It needs to be secure, yet commanding, staying somehow comfortable while remaining firm. If you’re laughing right now, you’ve clearly never pushed a performance car to its limits and felt it, well, push back. The 718 has a true Porsche interior. Beautiful clean lines, alcantara wrapped wheel that is the perfect size and the best of all, excellent seats. If you are seriously considering this model, we advise that you go for the optional sport seats but do expect to pay roughly an extra $5k for them.
2. Excellent Handling
For the first time since its introduction, the 718 Spyder has been designed and built by Porsche Motorsport. The same folks that brought us the cracker 718 GT4 RS that we loved so much have worked their magic on the new Spyder. It basically shares the GT4 underpinnings; same suspension and powertrain yet mated to a drop top and not quite as performance tuned as the RS we reviewed. Suspension set up is spring and strut, but you get a 1.18 inches lower ride than the rest of the Cayman/Boxter lineup. All of this (and Porsche Adaptive Suspension Management) combines to give an engaging driving experience that has just enough tail-happiness to keep the smile around the corners of your mouth, and the Spyder around the corners of the road.
3. Engaging Powertrain
The 718 Spyder is the perfect combination of old school tech with modern luxury that we expect from Porsche. A cutting edge flat six produces 414 horses at a screaming 7600 rpms (well within the 9000 redline) while remaining naturally aspirated, unlike the 911. This mates to Porsche’s slick 6 speed short shifter and makes for a 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds. That’s a whole 12 seconds faster than its predecessor. The shift is really defined (think Swiss watch precision) and very short, which we feel is a good reflection of the car’s character. This coupled with its superb handling makes it very chuckable through the curves, and the excellent mechanical limited slip differential helps it never feel ruffled, while still keeping us engaged. Somehow the Spyder keeps you focused without trying too hard, if you know what we mean?
Alright, so enough basking the good points of the Spyder, what don’t we like?
1. The Top Mechanism
Porsche clearly expect their drivers to be well versed in origami and have the patience of a Zen master when it comes to operating their new drop top. A weird combination of latches and power controls work together to raise and lower the roof, but it does take practice before you get good at it. In other words, make sure you know how to do it before facing a situation where the two loves of your life might end up getting wet.
2. The Engine Note
One thing you quickly realize with a ‘vert, is that you are much more exposed to the raw car than with a standard coupe. Top down, there is just no getting away from the engine noise. That would be okay if it were a good thing, but somehow this straight six directly behind our right eardrum doesn’t quite reverberate the way we’d like. Perhaps we’re just spoiled by the modern tech gizmos that pipe the perfect engine tone into the enclosed cockpits of other Porches, but it’s still a little jarring.
To wrap up, the good points of the 718 Spyder far outweigh the minor issues we have with it. Porsche have really pulled out all the stops to produce a classic convertible that is stylish and modern while retaining some of that rambunctiousness that is getting increasingly difficult to find in many new sportscars.