The 718 Spyder has enthralling sporting ability. Picture: PHYTI MPYANE
The 718 Spyder has enthralling sporting ability. Picture: PHYTI MPYANE

The 718 harks back to a racer that Porsche built in 1957, while “Spyder” invokes the 550 Spyder of 1953, and the memory of James Dean.

Just like the regular 718 Boxster, the Spyder recipe means it has a cloth roof but one that requires mostly manual labour to convert. It takes longer to peel off than the conventional Boxster roof but it is not that infuriating and it is part of a weight-saving programme and a rebellious charm of Spyder ownership.

It is a snug cabin with challenging entry and exit because it is such a low car.

The materials used inside are the usual high-quality Porsche standard with mildly bolstered but grippy seats covered in Race-Tex cloth. It also gets door pull straps while the rest of the cabin is pure Boxster in decoration and arrangement.

Compared with conventional Boxster models, the Spyder’s styling is more expressive through a pair of bulging Speedster humps behind the cabin. Powerful looks aren’t the only priority though.

The Spyder also gets the raft of mechanical upgrades found in the Cayman GT4. It is the same mid-mounted, naturally aspirated 4.0l engine with outputs of 309kW and 420Nm, but now married to a seven-speed PDK transmission.

You can have it in a six-speed manual, but I find the self-shifter is the more sensible option, especially for urban life. It adds more to the amazing civility of the Spyder when driven normally. The engine hums along fairly quietly and the ride quality is pleasantly supple.

Having an auto transmission also means quicker gear changes and an automated, easily deployed launch control system that enabled me to record 4.53 seconds from standstill to 100km/h at the Gerotek test track. This and a top speed of 301km/h are nothing to be sneezed at.

Compared with conventional Boxster models, the Spyder’s styling is more expressive, with a pair of bulging humps behind the cabin. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE
Compared with conventional Boxster models, the Spyder’s styling is more expressive, with a pair of bulging humps behind the cabin. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE

To have fun, ensure to warm up the wheels before activating firmer damper settings and switching the exhaust system to sport.

Here the Spyder buzzes delightfully while the rev needle rises, bouncing off the engine’s 8,000rpm maximum. You can imagine the cacophony but this is not the only amusement to be drawn from the 718 Spyder.

The need to heat its rubber is due to its 20-inch alloys being shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 semislick rubber as standard. Due to this and a mechanical differential it can also carve out corners like a little pro racer.

I experimented with most driving scenarios, including a stint around a handling track where it displayed incredible grip and motorsport-grade poise. I also hung its back out on a skid pan where its traction systems made assurances for driving on wet surfaces.

The materials inside are the usual Porsche high-quality, with grippy seats covered in a Race-Tex cloth. Picture: SUPPLIED
The materials inside are the usual Porsche high-quality, with grippy seats covered in a  Race-Tex cloth. Picture: SUPPLIED

The Spyder experience and its auto ’box showed this car is not reserved for driving purists. It was exceedingly adept in some unlikely areas too, such as touring comfortably and averaging 7.9l/100km, showing that it’s a rebel with a pause.

Like regular Boxsters it has two boots — front and back. Because the rear window is made of plastic instead of glass for ease of folding the roof outside noises creep into the cabin with more clarity. The positive side of this is the amplification of its characterful engine directly into your ears.

The Spyder delivers the elemental go-kart agility you expect from the Boxster series but in bigger helpings of driving thrills. It is not scary or wild but it keeps you enthralled in a legitimately Porsche way.

Tech specs

ENGINE

Type: Six-cylinder petrol

Capacity: 4.0l

Power: 309kW

Torque: 420Nm

TRANSMISSION

Type: Seven-speed auto

DRIVETRAIN

Type: Rear-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE

Top speed: 301km/h

0-100km/h: 4.4sec (as claimed) 4.5sec (as tested)

Fuel consumption: 8.5l/100km (as claimed), 7.9l/100km (as tested)

Emissions: 249g/km

STANDARD FEATURES

LED daytime running lights, climate control, auto on/off lights, Infotainment with Bluetooth connectivity, Suede-cloth + leather seats, adaptive suspension, ABS, stability control, six airbags

COST OF OWNERSHIP

Warranty: Two years/Unlimited km

Maintenance plan: Three years/100,000km

Price: R1,736,000

Lease*: R36,979 per month 
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit

WE LIKE:

Looks, performance, agility

WE DISLIKE:

Manual roof

VERDICT:

A style icon with a motorsport heart

MOTOR NEWS

Star rating:

*****Design

*****Performance

****Economy

****Ride

***** Handling

*****Safety

****Value For Money

*****Overall

Competition:

Audi TT RS roadster, 294kW/480Nm — R1,113,500

BMW Z4 M40i, 285kW/500Nm — R1,216,888

Jaguar F-Type P450, 280kW/460Nm —  R1,638,300

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