Driven | Porsche 718 Spyder PDK

Sure it is not the one for purists as it does not have three pedals but the PDK has pro’s too including the highly sought-after day-to-day practicality and even more track day potency.

Cosmetically the Porsche 718 Spyder with PDK looks exactly the same as the 6-speed manual offering and that is a good thing because, well look at it. It is sublimely stylish and oozes presence both with the roof on and off.

You will find yourself hard stretched to find fault with the clean neat interior and you will more than likely find your perfect driving position as there is an extensive range of reach and height adjustment, too. Infotainment is the standard Boxster’s 7.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth etch but it is also entirely plausible that you may choose Porsche’s weight-saving option of deleting the infotainment entirely, leaving you with a storage shelf instead.

The Porsche 718 Spyder inherits the Cayman GT4’s  414 hp (309 kW) 4.0-litre naturally aspirated flat-six engine, which removes in a fell swoop the biggest criticism of the regular 718 Boxster and Boxster S being the four-cylinder turbocharged motors.

Again, just like the GT4, the Spyder’s front suspension is very much related to the 991.2 GT3’s which means you get Porsche’s PASM adaptive dampers as standard, and a 30mm drop in squat compared to the regular Boxster.

What you don’t have that the GT4 does is the prominent fixed rear wing but that is to keep the flowing lines of this drop-top uninterrupted and instead makes do with a pop-up spoiler that rises above 120 km/h.

So what is it like to drive then? We confirmed that the manual transmission we tested in the Cayman GT4 suited the character of the car superbly well, albeit with very long ratios. Is the PDK as good of an option? Well, yes and no.

Yes because you can just pop it in to drive and focus more on steering input (and feedback) but also no as the hunt for the redline still takes a fair bit of time. The most significant change, and a brilliant one at that, is the pretty much instantaneous shifts that not only make the car sound more like a racer but make the Spyder feel substantially more potent.

The PDK equipped 718 Spyder will hit 100 km/h in just 3.9 seconds while the manual offering is able to hit the same benchmark in 4.4 seconds (depending on how well you shift that stick). You feel the benefits of the PDK in acceleration and launch situations and because the car is smarter than you, you get the best of the power and torque band whenever you demand kick down or pull for a downshift. Of course, there is a level of detachment, but the chassis, steering and the redline up at 8,000 rpm are so seductive that you focus on other elements which mean this still shines.

These other elements are things like the handling and steering feedback which can be considered almost perfect. It does what you want when you want and you hardly ever find yourself correcting things around a bend as the weight builds so progressively as you gently sweep the wheel through the turn. The grip is equally impressive and that is thanks to the sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2’s and of course those sensational GT3 roots. Pop the chassis into Sport and body roll is what we like to call non-existent.

That of course comes with some compromise and that is ride comfort. Even in regular settings, you will notice how firm and Motorsport-focused the 718 Spyder is but if you are an individual who can handle and enjoys this feedback then you can absolutely use it every day. Stick with the standard Sports Seats Plus seats and your body will thank you or you can fork out nearly R123k for the full bucket seats and you just might be visiting the chiro a few times a year.

Being a track and performance-focused sports car, the aim was to keep the weight as low as possible and unfortunately, that means you are met with a part-manually operated roof. You need to commit to having the roof open or closed before you head off which may push some customers towards the Boxster GTS 4.0. If you are worried about buffeting wind on the highway, do not fret because if the windows are up and the wind deflector in place, it is nearly bluster free.

If the choice was ours, we would still prefer the manual, but if sector times, lap times and daily drives are more of a priority to you, do not feel short-changed optioning the PDK, it is still a thrilling experience. It makes the cars an even more tempting proposition to those that want a great road car that they can comfortably take to a track and be tremendously quick.

The Porsche 718 ‘Boxster’ Spyder is truly sublime. It feels more authentically Porsche than Boxsters past. The engine is wonderful, it’s handling even more so, and it’ll please your eye every morning when you open the garage door. Whether it’s worth the R1,736,000 base price, we will leave that for you to decide.

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