On paper, the Porsche 718 Spyder RS is a Cayman GT4 RS without a roof and without a wing, though it is hardly without. While it lacks the rollover protection desired for a racetrack and the downforce needed to increase apex speed, the Spyder RS has more driver engagement than an Army Surplus has OD green. But it’s light on fatigue because it also rides well.
Will it excel on a racetrack, as implied by the RS suffix—for rennsport, German for motor racing? Absolutely. But Andreas Preuninger and his team, those responsible for all Porsche’s GT cars, didn’t even attempt a Nürburgring lap time. Which, if you ask us, is a little weird because even the Panamera and the Cayenne have laps on record.
Less weight, more money
The result might very well be peak road car. With the 4.0-liter’s intake inches away from your left ear, every trip to 9000 rpm puts you in a valvetrain trance that’s only broken by the unwavering brakes. Iron rotors are standard, but opt for the carbon-ceramic stoppers ($8000) if unsprung and rotating mass are top concerns. The ceramic rotors save about 40 pounds, and once you’re there you might as well go for the magnesium wheels ($15,640) that shave another 22 pounds. But to get the wheels, you also have to check the box for the Weissach package ($14,730 with the required interior upgrades). The Weissach package is mainly an appearance kit consisting of exposed carbon-fiber components that are otherwise painted, a faux-suede dash, and a tiny carbon lip on the duck-like spoiler.
Tacking nearly $40,000 onto a $163,650 Boxster that isn’t supposed to see track duty seems excessive unless you have a fetish for exposed carbon fiber. But we don’t judge.
To make this Spyder RS extra harmonious with public roads, the GT team did something it has never done with an RS car: reduce spring rates. Compared to the GT4 RS, they’re down by 55 percent in front and 43 percent in the rear. There’s no wing, no underbody strakes, and a 2.0-inch shorter front splitter. The Spyder RS also rides 0.2 inch higher. But the engine is the same 493-hp 4.0-liter with individual throttle bodies (that’s one per cylinder) and dry-sump lubrication.
A seven-speed dual-clutch is the sole transmission. Considering that Porsche emphasizes this being a road car, a manual would have made more sense, but we’re told there isn’t a row-your-own gearbox available that can spin fast enough, that has enough torque capacity, and that will fit. The upside to the PDK is unflappable launch control. Porsche says the Spyder RS will hit 60 in 3.2 seconds, but we got 2.8 out of a GT4 RS, a number we fully expect the roofless model to compete with. In fact, most of the acceleration numbers will be similar. The Spyder RS is just 11 pounds lighter than the GT4 RS, per Porsche.
For those wanting to explore the upper limits of the Spyder’s speed, know that the 191-mph top speed is with the roof removed. Porsche says not to exceed 122 mph when the roof is in place—although calling the 18-pound top a roof is like calling a three-ounce poncho a jacket. The two-piece design is an assemble-it-yourself affair. If you’re versed in the Spyder ways, it can be done solo in under two minutes. Despite its loin-cloth appearance, the top functions more like modern compression shorts. It has a tension cable that eliminates buffeting. And you can run it without the rear glass portion, like a bikini top on a Jeep CJ7. It’s not as convenient as the manual Miata-like roof in the standard Spyder, though Porsche claims it to be 17 pounds lighter.
Hammer on this car on a two-lane to reveal the magic. It isn’t just the more supple ride bestowed by softer springs. Despite the on-road focus, the suspension is devoid of rubber bushings—it’s all ball joints. There’s no downforce (or lift). It’s a neutral-lift car, so the steering doesn’t have that extra heft even when you’re going at a good clip. When the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s load up in corners, it’s as if each unit of mechanical grip (the standard unit for this is “Bibendums,” or it should be) comes through the wheel, so much so that you can tell if the road stripers used Benjamin Moore or Sherwin-Williams.
Every car enthusiast should experience a modern Porsche GT car—we gush over them for good reason. Porsche says this is the last new 718 model with an internal-combustion engine, and we predict these GT cars will go down in history as the high point before electrification drains fun from the fleet. And with its on-road focus, the Spyder RS further distinguishes itself in a field of RS track-day specials.
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2024 Porsche 718 Spyder RS
Vehicle Type: mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door convertible
DOHC 24-valve flat-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 244 in3, 3996 cm3
Power: 493 hp @ 8400 rpm
Torque: 331 lb-ft @ 6250 rpm
7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Wheelbase: 97.7 in
Length: 174.0 in
Width: 71.8 in
Height: 49.3 in
Passenger Volume: 49 ft3
Trunk Volume: 4 ft3
Front-Trunk Volume: 5 ft3
Curb Weight (C/D est): 3150–3200 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 2.9 sec
100 mph: 6.9 sec
1/4-Mile: 11.3 sec
Top Speed: 191 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
Combined/City/Highway: 16/15/19 mpg
K.C. Colwell is Car and Driver’s executive editor, who covers new cars and technology with a keen eye for automotive nonsense and with what he considers to be great car sense, which is a humblebrag. On his first day at C/D in 2004, he was given the keys to a Porsche 911 by someone who didn’t even know if he had a driver’s license. He also is one of the drivers who set fast laps at C/D’s annual Lightning Lap track test.