Roadtrip through Scotland Highlands, that for itself sounds dreamy but if it says in a Porsche 718 GT4 and Spyder, it’s one of those things which puts an instant smile on your face and you seek to get that confirmation letter out as quick as possible. That is pretty much what has happened to us a few weeks back and since we have been counting down the days and hours to finally test the all new GT4 and Spyder – something we have been looking forward to since their announcement. Rolling forward a few days and we find ourselfs at the airport, destination Edinburgh, Scotland.
Do you still remember the sound of a naturally aspirated flat-six engine, how to use a manual gearbox and love a high revving engine (up to 8000 rpm)? Well, then this one is just about perfect for you! A four-litre, naturally aspirated flat-six sits just behind the cabin, sending power to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual and that counts for both the 718 GT4 as well as the 718 Spyder.
While catching the first few corners, speeding it up and trying to push the car to its limits, we are curious about the new chassis and want to find out more – it is just so frequingly agile. You think we are talking about the GT4? We are sorry to say, but you are mistaken… that is the description of driver impression of the Spyder – jep!
“Maybe the biggest leap for the Spyder? Now it is an open GT4, full stop – same suspension, all GT4 underneath – just topless,” says Andreas Preuninger, head of the GT division.
The chassis on both, the Spyder and GT4, is excalty the same, as is the suspension setup – leaving the driver purely with the choice topless or not?! Both also employ the same engine producing 414 horsepower at 7,600 rpm and 309 lb-ft of torque from 5,000 to 6,800 rpm. Max rpm is now 8,000, up 200 from before. Top speeds are also up, the GT4 capable of 188 mph and the Spyder 187 mph. The GT4 is a track beast, that we know and expect but what we aren’t expecting is that both, the Spyder and the GT4 are terrific on the road. Both feel wonderfully light and alert and have all the power you need—and, in truth, can enjoy using—in a real-world environment.
Since 1996 the Boxtser has brought back pure driving emotions, people have fallen back in love with joyful and pure driving ambitions. Today we are talking GT4 genes in a topless Porsche, the new Spyder is ligthyears ahead of its predecessors, all Boxster versions so far and demonstrates that by generating downforce on the rear axle. That doesn’t sound too special persé but the 718 Spyder is the first Boxster model ever to downforce on the rear axle, and not too little either: 50 per cent of the downforce is generated by the fucntional diffuser (the same one used by the GT4). Newly implemented are also the NACA ducts, found on both models, which are cooling the engine compartment while not affecting the drag coefficient. The Spyder does not have the benefit of the GT4’s fixed rear wing, but instead has a rear spoiler that deploys at 75 mph.
The convertible rooftop has been critizied by others and loved by us. It is easy and quickly operated and most importantly a LIGHTWEIGHT construction, which is a far better solution than a heavy motor for the rooftop operation when an easy solution with a few hand moves leaves it stowed under the rear deck in seconds. We love it and can easily assure it’s a million times quicker than our daily driver’s rooftop (a lot Lotus Elise S1, which you basically need to deconstruct the whole roof and try to stow it somewhere).
After some Scottish Highland cruising we are off to the track. Knockhill is a challenging track with change in elevation of over 60m from top to low, impressive on such a small track. It measures 1.27 miles and passes through six right-hand and two left-hand corners. Acceleration is brisk, of course, as the 718 Cayman GT4 accelerates easily from zero to 62mph in 4.4 seconds, lovely on this long straight at top speeds just before Duffus Dip.
A natural heel-toe pro, every driver surely turns into one in this car. The 718's gearbox and clutch feel so natural that Auto Blip is practically what it does even when the system is off. Auto Blip is the botton you can spot newly on the centre console. The function? The automatic rev-matching that Porsche is a master of.
The reprogrammed active dampers are an improvement over the last GT4’s and the ride is smooth, even on the race track or narrow Scottish roads and allows for manual adjustment of camber, toe, ride height, and anti-roll bar stiffness. Road bumps or heaves while pulling lateral loads at a fun pace do not unsettle either end of the car and there were a few both on track and roads. This car immediately generates intuititve trust with the driver, demonstrates ist versile movements while sticking to the road like bubblegum to your teeth.
Yes, the ride is firm, but on the narrow, twisty, bumpy Scottish roads, with the dampers in Normal mode, there was just enough compliance to make it perfectly livable. The 718 Cayman GT4 might be the best casual track day car in the business, offering the best balance of price, performance, and sheer drivability and the Spyder is all that topless!