Well now, this is quite special. But then, any teardrop-profile Porsche coupe is, from the legendary 911 to the Cayman and Boxster.
And regarding the 718 Cayman coupe and roofless Boxster, this car is both. And also neither. Meet the Spyder.
Unlike the convertible Boxster with its metal, fully automated collapsing roof, the Spyder goes old school. Yes, in 2021, in order to access the great outdoors from one’s driver’s seat, one must engage in some unclipping, tugging and folding. Of the fabric roof that is, by hand, and for about a minute or so. This mild annoyance aside, the payoff is huge.
That is, a truly elegant sliver of Germanic awesomeness and with it, full access to the orchestra situated just behind your ears. I refer to the flat-six, four-litre, 911- sourced engine. Because like the tin-top Cayman GT4 we got to drive last year, this is blessed with 309kW and 430Nm, but now with a zero to hundred sprint of just 3.9 seconds, where the old manual car could best muster a 4.4sec. Hardly a slouch but in the pursuit of speed, this automated one’s better.
I know what you’re thinking, 3.9 seconds. That’s only as fast as a family saloon like the M3, or something with an RS or AMG badge. And you’d be dead right. You’d be missing the point, but you’d be right.
But those cars are turbocharged, forcefully aspirated. Whilst the Porsche Spyder, well that’s still all motor. Making a sub 4 second time quite the feat, and the top speed of 301kph even more so. To help it on its way, Porsche have finally deployed their dual-clutch PDK gearbox of tricks into the mix.
It’s punchy as all hell, quickly delivering each of its seven gears with its own AI brain. Or it can succumb to the will of the driver via the gear shifter or the paddles sitting behind the helm. Either way, stick it in gear and disappear. And so I did.
This brings me neatly to the best part. Kiss the 8000rpm redline and you’ll emit a fierce mournful howl, mechanical and guttural. It is the Porsche way, and doubly rewarding with the roof dispatched. Bend its taut chassis through your favourite twisties and you’ll appreciate more than the soundtrack, also steering feel that’s full of flavour, and an acceleration that’s unrelenting. Yes please.
In other Porsches, Ferraris and Lamborghinis, hell even in the Mercedes-AMG E53 we had last month, there’s a Manettino-style toggle on the steering wheel allowing you to select Sport, or Track or Road or bedroom, whatever. This doesn’t have that. At first I was quite disappointed but now, here, with an elevated heart rate and numb hands, I’m glad it doesn’t. I’m glad it doesn’t have dynamic modes or settings. You don’t get those here. You only get car. And car, is wonderful.
Yes, there’s a Sport setting on the PDK, a button for exhaust noises, dampers and so on, but the Spyder is fundamentally the same from the moment you twist its engine into life, till the moment you’re parked breathless on the summit of your favourite mountain pass. And that’s just wonderful.