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First drive: 2023 Porsche 718 Spyder RS. Image by Porsche.

First drive: 2023 Porsche 718 Spyder RS
Last of the mid-engined, petrol-powered Porsche sports cars is a road-orientated, open-top version of the stunning Cayman GT4 RS.

   



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Porsche 718 Spyder RS

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It would be easy to dismiss the 718 Spyder RS as a mere open-top version of the awesome 718 Cayman GT4 RS, but there's more to it than that. This is the last of the mid-engined, petrol-powered Porsches, and it's the first roadster to wear the RS badge, but it's also more of a sports car than the track-orientated GT4 RS. So is the change of attitude appealing, or is it a rare miss from Porsche?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2023 Porsche 718 Spyder RS
Price: From £124,499
Engine: 4.0-litre flat-six petrol
Transmission: seven-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power: 500hp
Torque: 450Nm
Emissions: 294g/km
Economy/Range: 21.7mpg
0-62mph: 3.4 seconds
Top speed: 191mph
Boot space: 120 litres plus 125-litre 'frunk'

Styling

Naturally, there's plenty of crossover between the Spyder RS and the Cayman GT4 RS, but there are some key differences, too. Most notably, the Spyder RS does without a solid roof, preferring a lightweight, two-part manual roof that's erected a little like a scout tent. There's a 'sun sail' part, which keeps the worst of the sun and rain at bay, and there's a rear panel that makes the whole thing weatherproof if you want it. Erecting the thing takes a bit of work, and two people with plenty of practice could probably do it in two or three minutes. On your own, you're talking more like five.

Naturally, the roof isn't the only difference. Because this is a sports car, rather than a racer, it does without the GT4 RS's big wing, and swaps it with a pronounced ducktail. That aerodynamic change has had to be balanced by tweaks to the nose, with a smaller splitter at the front. And because there's no roof, the air intakes have changed, too, with two 'music boxes' now housed on the car's 'shoulders'. Other than that, though, it's very similar to the GT4 RS, with the same stick-on Porsche logos and lightweight decal lettering, while the Weissach Package offers more exposed carbon in the bodywork.

Interior

The Spyder RSís cabin is remarkably similar to that of the GT4 RS, albeit without the optional racing harnesses. Otherwise, itís the same symphony of Race-Tex microfibre and carbon trim, with similar fabric door pulls and bare, uncluttered steering wheel. Lightweight bucket seats are standard, too, and customers get the usual Boxster array of analogue dials and touchscreen infotainment system.

Admittedly, some of the tech is starting to show its age Ė the 718 is seven years old now Ė but itís all functional and the quality on show is excellent. Sure, the odd button feels a bit last-generation, but everything fits together beautifully and the materials are first-rate, as youíd expect from a six-figure sports car.

Practicality

Naturally, the Spyder RSís two-part manual roof limits the practicality somewhat Ė putting it up in a rainstorm is not going to be easy, particularly if youíre on your own. But other than that, the RS is relatively spacious. Thereís plenty of space for two tall adults in the cabin, and you get two luggage compartments. Neither is especially big, with the rear bay offering 120 litres of capacity while the front tub measures 125 litres, but a weekend away with two soft bags will be absolutely no problem whatsoever. By Boxster standards, itís pretty positive.

Performance

Like the GT4 RS, the Spyder RS is powered by the naturally aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six engine from the 911 GT3. And like the GT4 RS, Porsche has had to turn that engine around and mount it in the middle of the car to fit in with the 718ís architecture. That means the exhausts are longer than in the GT3, and they follow a more tortuous route, so the engine produces a little less power. But still, a reduction of 10hp still leaves the Spyder RS with 500hp, and that all goes to the rear wheels via Porscheís brilliant seven-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox. As a result, the Spyder RS matches the GT4 RSís 3.4-second 0-62mph time, and it tops out at 191mph Ė just 5mph slower than the GT4 RS.

But while the speed is impressive, the noise is still the star of the show. Itís a different noise to the Cayman, which is recalcitrant and grumpy at idle, before howling its way up the rev range. The Spyder RS, however, is smoother and more refined, but itís still outrageously loud, particularly with the roof down. The two Ďmusic boxesí wail as air is sucked into the greedy engine, and the exhausts snarl as the gases are expelled from the cylinders. Itís less visceral than the GT4 RS, but itís still epic in its own way, particularly if you hold off changing gear until you hit the 9,000rpm redline. There, the noise rises to a brutal crescendo thatís both an assault and a delight for the eardrums.

Ride & Handling

Becuase the Spyder RS is designed to be a little more user-friendly than the GT4 RS, Porsche has given it softer suspension and a more docile character, but everything is relative. This is still a fire-breathing sports car, and it's wonderfully nimble and eager when you're turning into corners. With that much power and rear-wheel drive, the back end is naturally playful, but the balance provided by putting the engine in the middle means it's more manageable than you might expect.

Of course, the mid-engine layout can't take all the credit. The precise steering, the feedback through the seat and the perfect pedal weight all help, as does the snappy gearbox. It all adds up to make the Spyder RS really intuitive on the road, allowing you to control it instinctively. The slight catch is a marginally stiff ride, but it's still more comfortable than the GT4 RS. It soaks up minor bumps pretty well, and only the sharpest potholes will be properly uncomfortable. It's still stiff and informative, but only enough to ensure the body control is where it should be. It isn't too savage.

Value

At £125,499, the Spyder RS costs roughly the same money as the GT4 RS, and that's almost enough to make it good value. If nothing else, it means it's £20,000 cheaper than a 911 GT3, and that has a fixed roof. Of course, being a lightweight Porsche, the equipment list isn't all that long, and most of the items on it are performance-related, but it still gets climate control and a touchscreen infotainment system as standard, as well as bucket seats that can be swapped for more sophisticated road-centric options at no extra cost.

Verdict

The Spyder RS is, in some ways, compromised. But that doesn't stop it from being the pinnacle of 718 convertible development, and a fitting send-off for the mid-engined, combustion-powered Porsche. For everyday use, a GTS or a Spyder will be a better fit, but if you want a mid-engined Porsche for the occasional Sunday blast and money is no object, this is about as good as it gets.



James Fossdyke - 8 Aug 2023



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2023 Porsche 718 Spyder RS. Image by Porsche.2023 Porsche 718 Spyder RS. Image by Porsche.2023 Porsche 718 Spyder RS. Image by Porsche.2023 Porsche 718 Spyder RS. Image by Porsche.2023 Porsche 718 Spyder RS. Image by Porsche.

2023 Porsche 718 Spyder RS. Image by Porsche.2023 Porsche 718 Spyder RS. Image by Porsche.2023 Porsche 718 Spyder RS. Image by Porsche.2023 Porsche 718 Spyder RS. Image by Porsche.2023 Porsche 718 Spyder RS. Image by Porsche.








 

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