Porsche has, at long last, fitted a flat-six into their 718 series of mid-engine sports cars - a 4.0-litre unit no less. Enter the Spyder and GT4, both hardcore range-toppers that fill a yawning void that has plagued the 982 since Zuffenhausen elected to fit turbocharged flat-fours exclusively.
Subjective as the matter is, Porsche might have released their best looking car yet. Oddly, that title belongs to only one half of the focus of this story: the 718 Spyder. Its fixed-roof sibling, the 718 GT4 is a looker too, for sure, but doesn’t carry the same aesthetic drool triggers that the open top, which does require manual operation to retract and erect, does.
I’ll not dwell on looks any longer other than to say that Porsche has knocked it out of the park and actually made the Cayman and Boxster actually desirable again after the shift to four-cylinder turbocharged engines. Ironically, much of that appeal also has to do with that aforementioned return of the flat-six.
Details are scarce but given its displacement and layout, one might reasonably expect it to be (at least derived from) the 4.0-litre naturally aspirated flat-six from the 911 GT3, albeit detuned to a slightly more sensible 309kW at 7,600rpm (with a redline at 8,000rpm) and 420Nm between 5,000rpm and 6,800rpm.
Despite this, Andreas Preuninger, the head of Porsche’s GT cars division, says that the engine also shares much in common with the current crop of turbo four-pots in the 718 due to the impracticality of simply slotting in a 911-derived motor given the differences in layout. However, it does steal the 911 GT3’s 380mm brake rotors callipers as well as its front axle.
The two cars share the same 0-100km/h sprint times at 4.3 seconds, and while the Cayman’s more aerodynamic profile enables it to have a top speed of 302km/h, the Boxster runs it pretty close at 300km/h. Only a 6-speed manual transmission is supplied with no option for a PDK and two pedal arrangement.
Both the Cayman GT4 and Spyder share the same race-inspired chassis, suspension, and adaptive PASM dampers. Its ride height is 30mm lower than the standard cars and manual adjustment of parameters such as camber, toe, and anti-roll bar stiffness. Wheels are a lightweight 20-inch set teamed to bespoke versions of the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2.
There’s also a mechanical limited slip differential and torque vectoring as standard. In terms of aerodynamics, the GT4 is said to produce 50 percent more downforce without any significant impact on drag, producing 12kg more than before at 200km/h.
The result of this is, according to Porsche, a 10 second reduction in lap times at the Nurburgring over their respective predecessors. Because the Boxster Spyder lacks a hard top, the engineers decided against a fixed rear spoiler as that might have compromised straight line speed. Rather, one will hydraulically raise itself at speeds higher than 120km/h, contributing highly to the car’s aesthetic advantage.
Inside, the pair swaps out most of its more luxurious appointments and surfaces for bare trim and/or Alcantara; thinner manually-adjusted bucket seats replacing comfier electric leather ones. The GT4 seem to have gone a step further with fabric door pulls and even had its PCM infotainment system yanked out. Not so for the Spyder, though it’s possible that customers can have that added or removed cost-free.
When the pair do arrive on Australian shores some time early next year, the Cayman GT4 will be priced at $218,000 while the Boxster Spyder lobs in at $209,000, representing roughly a $40,000 increase over the previous top-spec variants in their range.