by Jay Traugott
Sports cars are becoming less frequent these days, high-performance ones even less so. Obviously that’s not good news for enthusiasts whose favorite pastimes are driving twisty mountain roads and canyon carving. If there’s any automaker still so deeply committed to sports cars and driving purity it’s Porsche. The all-new 2020 Porsche 718 Spyder is proof.
As the roadster convertible sibling to the also new Cayman GT4, the 718 Spyder is the ultimate variant of Porsche’s mid-engined topless fun machine. Not only is dynamic handling required here, but also a sort of bare-bones attitude in terms of cutting out any unnecessary clutter. You know, like proper door handles. Above all, the 2020 Porsche 718 Spyder continues a legacy that dates back to the 1950s with the iconic 550 Spyder.
One look at the 718 Spyder and it’s immediately clear it’s a Porsche Boxster. But what makes the 718 Spyder stand out the most are the couple of "humps” immediately behind the driver and passenger seat. This is a similar design attribute that dates back to the first generation Boxster Spyder. Porsche also applies this aerodynamic feature to its ultra-limited 911 Speedster. To help save as much weight as possible, Porsche ditched the regular 718 Boxster’s automatic folding soft top for one with a manual folding mechanism. It can be used for everyday purposes and is stowed away under the boot lid. The rear spoiler is normally tucked away just above the taillights, but, unlike in the Cayman GT4, it automatically deploys at 74 mph. The rear diffuser enables the roadster to generate aerodynamic downforce at the rear axle, making this the first Boxster to do so.
A few other additional exterior enhancements include unique front end styling, side sills, numerous other aerodynamic upgrades, and special ‘Spyder’ badges.
The 2020 Porsche 718 Spyder is not for amateur drivers. Power comes courtesy of a 4.0-liter naturally-aspirated flat-six good for 414 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque. Compared to the previous Spyder model, the new one has an extra 29 ponies. A six-speed manual is the sole gearbox for now.
Zero to 62 mph in only 4.4 seconds and has a top speed of 187 mph. If anyone is thinking whether that engine sounds familiar, then they’re correct. It’s derived from the current 911 Carrera, but it required some surgery. Porsche had to bore the flat-six out by an extra liter and strip it of its turbos. It revs all the way to 8,000 rpm. Porsche made this possible by giving the engine a new forged crankshaft and pistons, piezo fuel injectors, and an aluminum intake system. Impressive.
Porsche has yet to announce an official Nurburgring lap time, but there is a clear hint: the new Cayman GT4 lapped the Ring a full 10 seconds faster than the previous Cayman GT4. But remember – and Porsche puts particularly emphasis on this – the 718 Spyder’s chief goal is driver enjoyment rather than lap times.
To offer the best driving experience possible, Porsche Motorsport got involved. First up, it gave the 718 Spyder a dry-sump oil system with a high-performance oil pump to enhance high-speed cornering. Even the rear axle is unique to the car, featuring a mechanical rear differential with the coveted Torque Vectoring system.
Porsche’s track experts also borrowed some of the 991.2 GT3’s components, specifically the front axle and brakes. And speaking of brakes, the 718 Spyder comes standard with 15-inch iron rotors or optional 16.1-inch carbon ceramics. Regardless of the buyer’s decision, those brakes are enclosed in 20-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.
A few other enhancements owners will enjoy include the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system coming standard, and a lowered ride height by 1.2 inches compared to the regular 718 Boxster. There are manually adjustable settings for camber, toe, ride height, and anti-roll-bar stiffness.
Step inside and one will immediately find an interior layout that’s generally the same as any other high-end 718 Boxster. There are a few exceptions, of course. Remember that whole weight-saving exercise? Well, Porsche went to such extreme lengths as eliminating traditional door handles in favor of fabric pulleys. Weight is weight, after all. Along with heavy doses of Alcantara, specifically covering the seats and steering wheel, the cockpit is a generally comfortable place to be.
The dash layout is very straight-forward, with all controls logically placed. Porsche has made great efforts recently to reduce the number of buttons, especially on the center console behind the gear shifter. The touchscreen features the latest generation of the Porsche Communication management system.
Although one can buy a base 718 Boxster for just over $50,000, the 718 Spyder is a very different story. With the $1,250 destination fee included, the 2020 Porsche 718 Spyder costs $97,550. The good news, however, is that this time Porsche is not limiting production; it will build however many necessary in order to satisfy clients. But if you already know you want one, don’t wait. Porsche dealerships are already accepting orders but the first batch of deliveries aren’t even expected to arrive until spring 2020.
Absolutely. Despite the nearly six-figure price tag, Porsche knows it will sell every 718 Spyder it can build. Past experience taught them this, hence the decision not to limit production. Sports cars like the 2020 Porsche Spyder don’t come along often, and those who know, know. Wealthy enthusiasts, especially Porsche loyalists, won’t hesitate for a moment to cut a check. They’ll consider $100,000 very well spent. We can’t argue with that.