Porsche will tell you that there is no difference between the chassis and suspension configuration of the 718 Cayman GT4 and the 718 Spyder.

The fact is, however, that a GT4 equipped with Porsche’s optional Clubsport package (with its half-sized rollcage) will have a considerably more torsionally rigid body than a Spyder (without a roof) – and that difference will inevitably have an influence on how the dynamic character traits of the cars compare.

Long gearing blunts some of your enjoyment of this cracking engine on public roads, but the car’s precision, poise and agility, plus its bump compliance, make it rewarding

The 718 Spyder has similar apparent chassis stiffness and integrity on the road to the Cayman GT4 we track tested at Anglesey last year. It certainly doesn’t suffer any traces of scuttle shake or betray wider evidence of structural strain. As we’ll go on to describe in more detail, the ride has decent absorbency of B-road lumps and ridges both large and small despite the 30mm drop in ride height. While you won’t instinctively reach to firm up the adaptive dampers very often during road driving, the balance struck here between superclose, effortless body control and practical bump compliance is very good indeed. As a compromise, it feels tauter and more poised than any Alpine A110 does but it is still accommodating of a nasty surface.

The Spyder’s steering is paced with measure and its handling responses are more progressive than aggressive, making it an easy, precise, fluent-feeling car to drive quickly. The chassis is agile and incisive, but not overbearingly so; and the more you explore its abilities, the more fun you’ll have, so it’s rewarding, too. Some might say that it could be more charismatic on the road – more accessible, perhaps – but it’s unlikely that the car’s first-rate on-limit drivability could be retained in quite the same way while moving it in that notional direction.

The 718 Spyder delivered a curious reversal of expectations at the track, showing marginally better-balanced limit handling on the narrow, slower MIRA Dunlop circuit than the Cayman GT4 we tested at Anglesey last year.

It has excellent mechanical grip once its Cup tyres are warm and carries lots of apex speed. It stays stable on a balanced throttle but becomes more suggestible than the GT4 was to shaking its rear end loose on a trailing throttle, allowing power-on oversteer to develop very controllably and benignly thereafter – with the stability controls disabled. Leave them on instead, and you can still have lots of fun and carry plenty of speed.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Find an Autocar car review

Back to top

With heat building into the car’s mechanicals, however, some apparent and disappointing fade emerged from the car’s optional-fit carbon brakes, while a little bit of clutch slip was also evidenced by the transmission.

COMFORT AND ISOLATION

Anyone who hops into the 718 Spyder and, with the roof in place, sets off with the expectation they’ll be as isolated from the outside world as they would be in a regular Boxster is in for a shock.

Much like a camping tent, that collapsible canvas roof is nothing more than an elaborate device designed to put a bit of distance between you and the pervading weather. But while it might be very good at keeping the top of your head dry, it’s little more effective than a Scout’s two-berth at insulating you from the sorts of aural intrusions that arise when travelling at speed.

At 70mph, our microphone recorded cabin noise at 77dB – 4dB higher than the standard four-cylinder Boxster we road tested in 2016. Road and wind noise at this speed are significant, then, and as a result extended trips at motorway speeds can be quite fatiguing. Then again, this is a GT-division Porsche, so perhaps a hardy tolerance for the hardcore temperament is to be expected of its owners.

Oddly enough, with the roof down, the difference in isolation isn’t really night and day. An extra bit of wind buffeting is an obvious consequence and it is perhaps a tiny bit louder. But again, this comes with the territory.

Ride comfort, meanwhile, is uncannily good for a car this focused. There’s obviously more of a terse motorsport edge to the way the Spyder goes down the road, but its ability to blend taut body control with suppleness over sharper secondary impacts surpasses your expectations for rolling isolation comfortably.

Find an Autocar car review