Porsche 718 Spyder RS

porsche gt4 rs sypder review 01 action
Electrification’s coming for the Boxster but not before an unforgettable combustion sign-off

Who could forget the Carrera GT? Porsche’s V10 shrieker deserves all the hype it gets, yet it has one under-reported quirk.The car’s race-derived motor gives bystanders the sonic hiding of a lifetime but the individual administering it has to settle for a more subdued rendition. Perversely, you’re better off outside than in.The same can’t be said for the 718 Spyder RS. This wonderful machine is many things: the last petrol model on Porsche’s mid-engined platform, the only RS car to date not expressly intended for bullying on track, the first time Weissach has discarded the gloves with an open-air, purist’s car since the Carrera GT. But more than any of this, the Spyder RS is arguably the most animalistic car on sale in the realm of stuff that a) doesn’t cost seven figures, and b) could conceivably be driven daily. Beyond 8500rpm, the metallic barbarity of the intake yowl emanating from the Countach-style airboxes atop the hips of the body can’t be expressed in words. The car is a sibling to the Cayman GT4 RS, albeit with detail changes that orient it more towards road than track. Both use the same 493bhp 4.0-litre naturally aspirated flat six from the 911 GT3, only spun round and paired with a short-ratio PDK. Launching the Spyder RS on home turf, Andreas Preuninger was keen to portray it as a pure driver’s car, less concerned with lap times than open-road hedonism.So why no manual ’box? Porsche’s GT division chief’s answer was twofold. First, the six-speeder used for the comparatively tame 718 Spyder is geared too long for the 9000rpm potential of the RS. Second, the six-speeder from the 911 GT3 is physically too long. In the rear-engined car it flows forward from the flat six but in the mid-engined 718 it would need to extend backwards, which it cannot do.Does it matter? I’d be lying if I said it didn’t, just a bit. If there’s a missing part of the puzzle, it’s a third pedal. That said, the PDK is its usual blistering self and this firecracker roadster makes up elsewhere. Chiefly with its ride and handling balance, which, more than the open body, is where the Spyder RS deviates from its tin-top counterpart.The aero package is also quite different. Compared with the GT4 RS’s rear wing, the Spyder RS’s thuggish ducktail generates less downforce. The effects of the splitter and underbody vanes have duly been curtailed to preserve aero balance. Or it would all get a bit pointy at high speeds. The truth is the GT4 RS can be punishing company on the road. Meagre wheel travel results in skittishness and the front can struggle for purchase in non-ideal conditions. Porsche knows this, so for the Spyder RS the spring rates have plummeted from 110Nm per millimetre to 45Nm at the front axle and 140Nm to 80Nm at the back. In line with this, the steering has also been recalibrated. Preuninger claims it’s just a little calmer off-centre, though the character of the car retains the “immediacy and excitement” of a GT product. This is a more sat-back RS but still one with adjustable ride height, camber, track and anti-roll bars, plus uniball joints in the suspension. An over-endowed BMW Z4 rival it is not. How does it all feel on Swabian hill roads? Heavenly. This car is absurdly precise, balanced and homogenous, and underpins it with a suppleness that doesn’t evaporate when the road surface deteriorates. And the screaming. Good Lord.The reduction in spring rate has benefits beyond heightened comfort and cruise-ability. One is that you have more confidence scaling those flat-six heights. The car just sits on the road more resolutely. Another is that, in the real world of tepid tyres and damp patches, the Spyder RS hooks up better than the Cayman GT4 RS on turn-in. The knock-on effect is that you can really steer it on the throttle on the way out. It will be interesting to see whether all this translates well to the UK. If it does, of the current crop, this will be the RS creation to have. It’s remarkable just how far the Boxster has come.Of course, this is no conventional Boxster and it has no conventional roof. One element joins the header rail to points on the carbonfibre rear deck but leaves an open crescent at the back. The second fills this crescent in, for when the weather really turns. With everything up, refinement is good. You feel very much inside the eye of the storm.Fitting the roof is not the work of a moment but neither is it a hernia-inducing ordeal. Once removed, the fabric stores neatly under the deck, just behind the bulkhead. This bit weighs a scant 8.5kg, so the Spyder RS is actually lighter at the kerb than the Cayman GT4 RS. Going for the £9300 Weissach pack (by Preuninger’s own admission more aesthetics-focused on this Spyder) brings titanium pipes and unlocks the option of fitting magnesium-alloy wheels, which should sneak the whole show below 1400kg.Drawbacks? Scarcity. Production is uncapped but the GT division’s build rate is low. Quite unhelpfully, £125k is also a bargain for this sort of quality. One shudders to think what the secondary market will do to values. The deeper pockets of this world have finally woken up to the specialness of the Carrera GT, and the 718 Spyder RS would seem to be its spiritual successor. Only it’s faster, easier to use and, with its higher-revving motor, sweeter on the ears for the soul in the hot seat.
Source: Autocar

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