The only real difference between the new Porsche 718 Spyder and the latest Cayman GT4 this time round is the aerodynamic packaging. On aesthetic grounds Porsche decided not to fit the Spyder with a big rear wing (correct decision) and has instead gone for a smaller wing that retracts back into the rear bodywork, plus the Spyder’s front splitter is nowhere near as pronounced as the GT4’s. So while the Spyder generates no lift it also generates no downforce. Unlike the GT4.
Other than this, however, the two cars are pretty much identical mechanically. Same awesome 4.0-litre atmospheric flat-six engine, same superb six-speed manual gearbox, same weight (1495kg), same power and torque outputs (414bhp and 420Nm), even the same claimed acceleration figures (0-62mph in 4.4sec, 0-100mph in 9.0sec) although the Spyder’s top speed is a highly insignificant 2mph down on the GT4’s at 186mph.
Except, of course, the Spyder looks somewhat different to the GT4, both inside and out, and is surely a whole lot more exotic as a consequence. True, the part electric but mostly manual canvas roof remains a bit of a caper to raise or lower, but the twin buttresses on the rear deck add an air of sophistication to the styling that the more track-focused GT4 lacks. And the ability to drop the Spyder’s hood and listen to its new flat six that much more intimately is not to be underestimated, either.
Unlike the GT4, the Spyder gets Porsche’s PASM system as standard, plus the normally optional Sports Chrono Pack as well. The Spyder also looks and feels a fair bit more plush inside, with more colour to the trim variations and a pair of “Spyder” embossed seats. Both cars come on the same bespoke-for-Porsche Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, another sign of how much more focused the Spyder is this time round.
On the road the Sypder is not a sledge-hammer kind of car, despite the fact that it is a seriously quick one. Instead it’s unusually multi-layered in its appeal. Even at 40mph there is feel through the steering, seats and brakes that is simply missing from most other sports cars, even the very good ones. There is a delicacy of touch to all its control that can be appreciated and enjoyed at any speed, not just at Mach 2.
But when the moment comes and the right road appears in the windscreen, and you deploy the throttle accordingly, the Spyder delivers a level of involvement and aural excitement – and pure speed – that really does take your breath away. It’s torquier than before, too, so although the gearing is long in the first three ratios, the engine can handle it.
Truth is, it’s hard to think of any other sports car this side of six figures that gets anywhere near the Spyder for all round appeal. This is a serious driver’s car that also happens to be very good value, very high in quality and knee-tremblingly easy on the eye. Other than the fiddly roof there really is no downside we can think of.