REVIEW | With 309kW, here's why the Porsche 718 Spyder delivers all the thrills as a drop-top

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• The Porsche 718 Spyder headlines the 718 Boxster range.

• The sports car is powered by a 309kW 4.0-litre petrol engine.

• The 718 Spyder shares its underpinnings with the 718 GT4.

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Few automakers can produce sports cars as well as Porsche. The German automaker has been rewriting the books since the original 911 came to market in 1964. Of course, the 911 was the successor to the erstwhile Porsche 356, but the car came and altered our expectations of a production sports car's capabilities.

Come 1996, more than 30 years since the 911's inception, Porsche would introduce its first-generation Boxster. The car was - and still is - smaller than the 911, but it would give prospective Porsche owners the chance to experience the very best of German craftsmanship. And, of course, it came with a price advantage over the 911. Performance-wise, the Boxster lost none of the elements Porsche became known for, and it would be improved upon with every passing year and generation.

In 2016, the latest iteration of the lauded Boxster (soft top) and Cayman (hard-top) sports car were launched, but Porsche also introduced the '718' nomenclature to the name.

Porsche 718 Spyder
2021 Porsche 718 Spyder


With age comes experience

While the Porsche 718 range was introduced locally in 2016, the car has not yet received notable upgrades. Bar light updates and cosmetic alterations, the sports car is still essentially unchanged from the car that came to market five years ago. The Spyder derivative, though, saw its local introduction in late 2020 and is the model that headlines the range in South Africa.

Though some might find it strange that this model was introduced so long after the initial release, it must be noted that a halo model like the Spyder is normally launched by the midway point of a car's lifecycle - which is exactly the case here.

READ: REVIEW | Unbridled and uncompromised - The Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 is a class-act sports car

The 718 Spyder brings together the experience Porsche had accumulated over the years. Not just with its 718 family, but across the board. Justifiably, it must warrant its place at the top of the 718 hierarchy, which is why Porsche could confidently say that "the new 718 Spyder is a purist machine for driving pleasure with a lightweight convertible roof that can cope with high speeds. Thanks to the functional diffuser, it is the first model in the Boxster family to generate aerodynamic downforce on the rear axle."

Porsche 718 Spyder
2021 Porsche 718 Spyder


Noteworthy performance

The 718 Spyder is powered by one of Porsche's fabled engines, the 4.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine. The naturally aspirated mill offers 309kW and 430Nm of torque, sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (a six-speed manual is also available). Like any Porsche, power figures are only part of the story as the aerodynamic attributes come into play spectacularly.

Fitted with PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management), the 718 Spyder sits 30mm lower to the ground than its siblings, which further enhances the car's aerodynamic potential. It ensures that drivers have greater confidence through sweeping bends, allowing them to explore the car's performance potential before calling a halt to proceedings. Add to that the Porsche's Stability Management (PSM), and you have a sports car that will astound and reward with each passing kilometre.

The Porsche 718 Spyder can clear 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds and run a 300km/h top speed.

Porsche 718 Spyder
2021 Porsche 718 Spyder


In summary

While the 911 is the ultimate Porsche in most people's opinion, the 718 family is just as impressive. And with the Spyder - and GT4 we drove in 2020 - headlining this sports car range, the 718 can now run with the very best the automotive world has to offer. The car takes an already impressive formula and improves on it, making it one of the rawest driver's cars available today.

At R1 736 000 (before options), the 718 Spyder is as comprehensive a sports car you'd find anywhere. Its primary focus is unadulterated driving dynamics, with everything else the next important thing. Even the minimalistic infotainment system is testament to a car that prioritises the driving experience.

The question remains, then: Is the Porsche 718 Spyder any good? You bet your bottom dollar it is!

The Porsche 718 Spyder comes standard with a three-year or 100 000km maintenance plan and a two-year or unlimited km warranty. The maintenance plan can be optionally extended to five years.

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