Porsche 718 Spyder Test Drive: Purity of Forgotten Pleasure

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There are trials that are more expected than others. You have, those who make you vibrate several weeks in advance, those who push you to do research on the Internet several days before to be sure to master the subject once on D-Day, those who prevent you from sleeping the day before and wake you up before your 10 wake-up reminders in the morning. Testing the 718 Spyder, like all of my Porsche testing so far, is one of them, and after two days of exploring every aspect of it, I finally understood why.

Although it's not really a new car, I always volunteer when it comes to getting behind the wheel of a recent sports car, even more so when it ticks the boxes discoverable, naturally aspirated engine. and manual gearbox (although the PDK gearbox is also available). This holy Trinity so praised by aficionados of sportsmanship finds here one of its most recent interpretations and perhaps also one of the very last, to see the headlines of the automotive news in this year 2021. If I was full of praise for the result of the marriage between a simple 4 cylinder and the Boxster / Cayman name more than two years ago (test of the 718 Boxster to find here), seeing the flat-6 make its comeback in June 2019 and especially in an atmospheric version under the hood of the 718 filled me with joy, until I could hope to try it, I wasn't asking for so much.

Sweet dream

It’s true though, here I am driving the 718 Spyder. As you will have noticed, the sportiest versions of the 718 range thus lose the name Boxster & Cayman and only use the names Spyder & GT4 respectively. As on the 981 generation, the Spyder & GT4 are therefore the ultimate versions (although it is rumored that a GT4 RS could see the light of day …) of the famous entry-level sports duo Porsche, intended either for trackers , either for lovers of driving and pure sensations, with almost no frills, or even for lovers of rare objects. Because if the duo is not limited in number, its call price of around € 100,000 excluding options and registration fees promises a reduced distribution of this toy for real enthusiasts of the Zuffenhausen firm.

Let's get straight to the heart of the matter, mechanically at first. The atmospheric 4.0 L flat-6 is derived from the engine of the 911 generation 992 (3.0 L biturbo) and displays performance close to the said legend. 4.4 seconds on the 0-100 km / h exercise and a top speed of 301 km / h for the Spyder, which we obviously had no fun approaching. The technical sheet did not tell us whether this speed could be reached with or without a hood. This soft top is also one of the most striking distinctive elements of the 718 Spyder of a standard 718 Boxster, on the one hand because it is no longer electrically controlled, on the other hand because its shape is reminiscent of tirelessly that of a racing tray that we would have hidden in a hurry. The system is not, however, traditional and has been the hallmark of the Spyder since the Boxster generation 987.2. Another peculiarity is that it is closely derived from the most trailblazing of the 718s, the GT4, whose Spyder includes almost all of the specific elements, starting with the mechanics. In terms of style, there is a shield identical to the two versions except for the inscription on the plastic blade. Two large gills take place under the LED optics (optional) while at the rear, there is an imposing diffuser revealing two separate exhaust outlets. The 20-inch rims are also specific and respond to the sweet and simple name of “Spyder”. Finally, two characteristic elements complete the ensemble, the double embossing behind the headrests and a removable duck tail-shaped spoiler, definitely very Porsche.

Half-track, half-GT

If we don't get to the driving chapter just yet, I'll leave you salivating at least as much as I do, the interior and the few changes to make the cabin exclusive too, will take more than one out of Latin. The only specific elements are the removal of the door handles in favor of fabric straps which are far from ergonomic, the “Race Tex” finish (a kind of Alcantara) on the steering wheel and the gear lever gaiter and the presence of the Standard Sport Chrono package. Oh yes, the “Sport plus” seats with larger reinforcements at the shoulders are also delivered as standard instead of the “Sport” seats available on the 718 Boxster. Okay, that's starting to make some distinctive elements I grant you. If like me this little description leads you to think that Porsche could have gone further in this “Spyder” version, do not panic, the German manufacturer has thought of everything and offers you a good number of options that will allow you to like anybody else. what Porsche, to make your 718 Spyder unique. Especially since our example has many of the latter in its long list, first and foremost are the sumptuous sports bucket seats with carbon shell. This is typically an element that for me is essential in the configuration of your Spyder.

We also find the Spyder Classic interior package allowing to display this superb two-tone black and red interior as well as many elements also covered with the “Race Tex” coating such as the glove box, the central armrest or the panels. door. Finally, you can opt for almost all of the comfort options available on a 718 Boxster: cruise control, heated seats, heated steering wheel, display of speed limit panels, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, etc. they can be very useful, this possibility represents for me the paradox of this Spyder: radical but possibly comfortable. For me, these options should have been left for the sole benefit of the 718 Boxster GTS version, using the same mechanics as the Spyder but deflated by 20 hp and above all, more intended for regular use than occasional use. After between us, I do my snob like that behind my computer, but I was damn happy to have a steering wheel and heated seats given the outside temperature displayed once the “top down” ceremony was over.

Pure pleasure

Engine, my first few kilometers behind the wheel of the 718 Spyder are in town. The engine snorts with a very mechanical noise, a few clicks and then a purr of rocky number is heard, typically Porsche. I quickly realize after 10 minutes behind the wheel that we are far, far away from the favorite terrain of the 718 Spyder. Between the too high speed bumps, the suspension closes to break your lumbar, the first gear too long, the second which grazes at 20 km / h, the huge blind spots due to the structure of the top, I pray at every crossroads that an overly enterprising Uber does not stamp my long-awaited toy of the moment. Phew, here I am out of the woods, heading for the A13 to join the French Vexin countryside and let the atmospheric flat-6 express itself (at 80 km / h) in a more suitable environment. Panel 130 in sight, I push 2nd to its maximum to see if the first gears are as long as expected. Indeed it pulls long, very long even, you are already outside the legality if you push the 2nd gear up to 8000 rpm (beginning of the red zone). Besides, we can not say that this motorway journey is a breeze. The single-layer soft top with the apparent mechanical system shines with its more than minimalist soundproofing and the suspension betrays its track-type damping by going up to the steering wheel the sensation of the slightest pebble on the road. No need to go further to understand that this 718 Spyder is definitely a toy intended for occasional use, preferably on a suitable surface. By that mean a beautiful macadam track or the layouts of the passes of the Alps, perfectly maintained since each year used by the Tour de France.

After leaving the highway, it doesn't take long for me to understand how the 718 Spyder works. Everything seems innate aboard this car which encourages mechanical gestures, dosed per mm, for a surgical result. Well seated at the bottom of the bucket seats, my back and lumbars perfectly maintained, the vertical steering wheel facing me, I am in the best conditions to feel the slightest movement of the body, each result of the slightest degree in the steering wheel or the slightest pressure on one of the pedals. Hop, I fold the soft top in the trunk, open the active flap sports exhaust valves and off we go to Nirvana. The engine reveals all its personality from 4000 revs / min where the sound is more hoarse, more present, without falling into the caricature with pops & bangs in all directions. The brake pedal is a bit too high to use the heel-toe perfectly (at least on the road), the rev-matching via the “auto-blip” button on the left is most useful and the recovery of throttle at each drop in gear is calibrated as precisely as possible. I hold my steering wheel firmly with both hands, the 718 Spyder reading the coating almost dangerously (it reminds me a bit of the 4C, whose test is to be reread here). Hope it's worth it … God damn it, what did I say there. Obviously yes it was worth it, oh yes it was worth it. I brake much too early as I approach the first turn, very pleasantly surprised by the track-type attack of the brake pedal and with just perfect consistency, I take my turn, the front axle obeying the finger and the eye with each movement of the steering wheel and, oh miracle, a roll to absent subscribers. But when I tell you absent, it's not just a slight pitch then an admirable body handling, no, it's simply that the 718 turns flat, literally, helped largely by its architecture elsewhere, and without There is no doubt about the tires offered as standard, the Michelin Sport Cup 2 with phenomenal grip. At this precise moment, I dream of being on track at the wheel of the same car because I still have, via PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management), a “Sport” setting of the Suspension, activated via a dedicated button near the lever. of speeds. To be honest, during my two days of testing I never felt I needed it, I even think it would have degraded the driving experience on the open road.

I have hitherto untested pleasure behind the wheel of the Spyder. I really have the impression of being one with the machine, every gesture is reflected in the behavior of the Spyder with the purest accuracy possible. A gear change, and the listening pleasure is there, a frank pressure on the middle pedal, and the 718 comes to a halt, a movement of the steering wheel and the car turns flat, an acceleration and your smile does not stop growing until 'at 8000 revs / min, regime in which you would like to stay for hours on end as everything seems beautiful to you in this world during this short moment. Of course, the 718 Spyder prompts the big attack. On one of my favorite sequences, I have rarely been able to feel so at my ease and above all, to take such shameful speeds, much higher even than at the wheel of more powerful and assisted toys than he has. been given to drive. It's simple, to this day I can say without blushing that the driving experience aboard this 718 Spyder is one of the most authentic to date.

Irrational

Irrational, that's the word and it gives me a hell of a morale boost to end my essay on such a paragraph. Irrational because unreasonable for driving on an open road, irrational because too expensive for most of us, but also irrational because it is undoubtedly one of the very last of its race, that of cars intended for and only for driving pleasure. The real, the only, pure driving pleasure. It's hard to talk about numbers after all that, but at € 114,163 in our configuration, I would almost be tempted to say that the 718 Spyder is almost a bargain compared to the astronomical sums achieved by any underpowered and over-optioned SUV. . Obviously, that was without counting the 249 gCO2 / puts the related penalty of € 30,000. All of this disgusts me the most, and it is what makes me think that this 718 Spyder will be nothing more than a sweet dream to me.

Some numbers

Dimensions: 4430x1801x1258
Curb weight: 1420 kg
Boot volume: 150 L (front) + 120 L (rear)
Tank volume: 64 L
Combined advertised consumption (WLTP): 11.0 L / 100 kms
Average announced CO2 rejection (WLTP): from 249 gCO2 / km (251 for our test model)
Displacement: 3995 cc
Max power: 420 hp at 7600 rpm
Max torque: 420 Nm between 5000 and 6800 rpm
Max speed: 301 km / h
0 to 100 km / h: 4.4 sec

Photos / video credits: Maurice Cernay















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