If we’re talking oily bits, this is essentially the same car as the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 featured on the preceding pages. Unlike the previous-gen Boxster Spyder, which was basically a spin-off from the lesser Boxster GTS, this time around the chop-top roadster gets the full Porsche motorsport division treatment, meaning it scores the same delectable 4.0-litre flat-six motor, 911 GT3-derived suspension, mega brakes and sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber as the 718 Cayman GT4.
The only performance-related element the Spyder misses out on is the hardcore aero kit — comprising an aggressive front splitter and fixed rear wing — that endows the Cayman GT4 with the high-speed downforce it needs for max-attack laps at the Nurburgring Nordschleife. So, the gist of it is that the Spyder is every bit the serious driver’s car the Cayman GT4 is, but its focus is more on design purity and real-world enjoyment than shaving the last few tenths off lap times.
In our view, the more restrained aero package works well on the Boxster Spyder, which has lovely proportions, made all the better by the neatly integrated ducktail rear spoiler and twin humps aft of each passenger.
The Boxster Spyder has the same 414bhp/420Nm outputs as the Cayman GT4, and it also weighs the same at 1,420kg, so it’s no surprise it matches the 4.4sec 0-100kph split of the latter. That said, top speed is marginally lower at 301kph, but that’s largely academic anyway.
Clearly, it’s a fast car, but I’m going to bust out a cliché and suggest it’s a scalpel rather than a sledgehammer. The Spyder doesn’t bludgeon you in the way a 911 GT2 RS does, but its forte is how cohesively all its wonderful ingredients come together to make for one of the best experiences you could have on four wheels. Pin-sharp steering and perfectly balanced chassis complement that free-spinning flat-six motor that yowls its way to 8,000rpm.
There’s also the same ultra-slick six-speed manual as the Cayman GT4, and it what it all adds up to is a supremely involving and tactile device that’s just made for carving up winding roads. As it turns out, we’re presented with an abundance of these at the international launch as the drive route takes us across breathtaking stretches of the Scottish Highlands. Many roads we blast across are extremely narrow, so the Spyder’s compact dimensions and precision/adjustability come to the fore here.
The standard 718 Boxster’s four-cylinder turbo powerplant has a somewhat anaemic ‘dak dak’ soundtrack, but there’s little to fault in the car as a whole. It’s a razor-sharp driving tool. The Spyder ups the ante via the same 911 GT3-derived front suspension and huge stoppers — steel rotors are standard, carbon-ceramic optional — used by the Cayman GT4 so its backroad pace is nothing if not dizzying. The ABS and stability-control programming are RS-spec, too, so you can take full advantage of the Spyder’s cornering grip and balance. Then there’s that magnificently vocal naturally aspirated flat-six motor, which can be fully savoured in alfresco mode.
Unfortunately, the weather today is somewhat grey and drizzly, which means we only go topless for a brief period when the precipitation abates. One thing to note is that lowering or raising the top is a slightly laborious affair that requires you to get out of the car and fiddle with various clips and latches (no single push-button solution here), so it’s best to decide whether you’re going top-up or top-down before you set off on your journey.
Naturally, the fact the Boxster Spyder loses out on the structural rigidity provided by a hardtop roof means it’s ultimately not as taut as the Cayman GT4, but you won’t notice that out in the real world. There’s no scuttle shake (a telltale sign of the chassis flexing across diagonal bumps), although the lower, stiffer suspension does mean ride quality is less than cossetting on lumpy tarmac. This obviously won’t be a major issue on our roads, which, for the most part, are billiard-table smooth.
Its orientation might be slightly different to the Cayman GT4, but the Boxster Spyder is every bit as satisfying to punt as its more track-focused sibling. There are few roadsters out there that can match its finely-honed edge and sheer visceral appeal — even the most hardcore versions of the Jaguar F-Type and new BMW Z4 don’t get there. In fact, you’d need to look at convertibles costing double or more to equal the topless thrills served up by the 718 Boxster Spyder.