It has been a week since I had a spin in the 2024 Porsche 718 Spyder RS over Germany’s Swabian Alps’ undulating terrain. Normally, I don’t have this much time to think about a day of driving a new automobile before writing about it, but in this case, I’m pleased I did. See, even though the 718 Spyder RS is a rather straightforward automobile, it makes me feel a variety of complicated emotions, not the least of which is regret because it represents the end of Zuffenhausen’s production of mid-engine internal combustion vehicles. The Spyder RS has a lot of pressure on it, and it needs to deliver. But is it successful?
The 718 Spyder RS can be best described as the roofless sister of the Cayman GT4 RS to start. They exclusively share the 911 GT3’s 4.0-liter, 9,000-rpm, 500-horsepower flat-six, and seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission. They also share several body panels and the interior, with the exception of the roof, of course. Their intended purposes and the tuning Andy Preuninger, the Porsche GT czar, gave them to accomplish those purposes are where they diverge.
The 718 Spyder RS is intended as a car for the road and for driver engagement, in contrast to the Cayman GT4 RS, which is a hardcore track-rat’s dream with unyielding suspension and a large adjustable wing out back. It has less aerodynamic properties due to a shorter front lip and the switch to a ducktail spoiler with a Gurney flap (or wicker bill if you’re a Corvette engineer reading this), as well as being softer and more comfortable (though it’s difficult to say by how much that’s visible given the quality of German roads).
You’re not crazy if you think it’s strange that a Porsche product designed for quick, enjoyable road driving has a big fat RS at the end of its model designation. It almost doesn’t make sense that Porsche didn’t label it something different when compared to something like the completely insane 911 GT3 RS. However, I will state right here and now that this car is still incredibly swift and razor-sharp around curves; in fact, if we’re being completely honest, it’s probably faster and sharper than you are. Fortunately, it’s still a reasonably forgiving vehicle, and Porsche’s electronic safety systems are among the best in the industry, so if you take the vehicle for a true rip, you probably won’t need your brown pants.
With slightly lower spring rates, the suspension system is mechanically almost identical to that found on the GT4 RS. In this car, you don’t feel or hear any of the vibrations, clunks, creaks, or rattles that a hard-mounted suspension brings with it, which leads me to the next excellent feature of the Spyder RS: the intakes. It is still heim-jointed and extremely adjustable.
You’ve probably heard folks wax poetic about the GT4 RS’s epic, all-consuming intake noise if you’ve read anything about the car. That side window-mounted air scoops produce one heck of a noise when the air-hungry GT3 motor is spinning at 9,000 rpm, and in the Spyder, that racket is even crazier because the intakes are open and situated almost directly above your head.
My co-driver used a smartphone app to gauge the level of that intake honk while the car was in press drive mode. He measured a peak of 106 dB. A phone app obviously isn’t that accurate, but even if it’s wrong by only five decibels, it’s still loud enough to damage your hearing permanently after 30 minutes. While it’s absolutely gnarly, the first time I’ve desired a pair of earplugs in a stock road car is pretty fucking rock-and-roll in my opinion.
The car’s other features and driving dynamics are generally outstanding, but that is to be expected. The 718 platform is currently rather outdated but incredibly organized. Although I regret the lack of a manual transmission option, the drivetrain is a well-known quantity and among the greatest ever developed. There are two reasons why it lacks one. First, the 911 six-speed wouldn’t fit because the axles are positioned incorrectly, and redesigning it to match a mid-engine chassis just wasn’t cost-effective. Second, Porsche is certain that RS vehicles should only have multi clutch transmissions since they are faster.
The 718 Spyder’s other trick is its curb weight of 3,109 lbs (in European trim), which is relatively low (at least by modern standards). In comparison to the PDK Boxster Spyder and even 11 pounds lighter than the Cayman GT4 RS, the vehicle is a remarkable 88 pounds lighter. That difference grows if you choose the Weissach package, which adds a lot of carbon fiber components and a titanium exhaust. You can spend even more ($15,650, to be exact) on magnesium wheels, which reduce unsprung and spinning mass by a total of 22 lbs.
The switch to an entirely manual roof represents the other significant departure from the 718 Boxster and Boxster Spyder. You opening the rear clamshell to access the roof and most of its fasteners is the only source of electricity. As far as manual roofs go, this one feels a touch too do-it-yourself, but it’s still doable, provides two other ways to enjoy the car, and looks good when it’s up. Because it is made of a single layer of cloth and largely carbon fiber for the hard sections, it is incredibly light. How thin? Try 40 pounds total, and if you’re sure it won’t rain, you can just leave the majority of that 40 pounds at home. Bonus!
Here is a phone video of me attempting to upload it after practicing it a few times. It was quite windy, and I apologize for the noise and for being a spaz.
Putting on the 2024 Porsche 718 Spyder RS’ manual top
My preferred driving position may be in the middle, with the major portion of the top up but without the wind deflector or back glass. It functions as a sun sail and provides a ton of weather protection, but it does little to quiet that ear-splitting and giggly intake sound. One major drawback of the top is that once it is fitted, the rear clamshell can no longer be opened. Before you may enter the rear trunk, you must manually release the two rear tensioning flaps on each side of the vehicle. Does it really matter? No. Does it at all stink? Yes, but you have a large front trunk to use for that, right?
The 2024 Porsche 718 Spyder RS is a wicked fast and highly nimble mid-engine sports vehicle, but it is significantly less practical to own and drive than a conventional 718 Boxster, as has thus far been established. We’ve also determined that if you want to go out and chase lap times, this isn’t the car for you. Finally, we can say that this car will definitely permanently damage your hearing but that it is still worthwhile. Given all of that, does the 718 Spyder RS make a strong enough impression to merit its hefty starting price of $162,350 (plus a $1,650 destination charge)?
Absolutely, it does. It appears to be the GT department’s ode to the departed mid-engine chassis. It also gives the impression that Andy and his team have let loose a bit and are building a car that they would want to drive rather than one that is intended to set lap records at the Nurburgring. It’s unique and easy to love because of so many factors. I’m eager to spend more time driving it about my neighborhood so that my wife and I may share a pair of earplugs (left for me, right for her) and let that gorgeous flat-six yowl its guts out.
Show me your perfect spec using the always outrageously granular Porsche configurator. The 2024 718 Spyder RS is scheduled to arrive on US shores in early 2024. Here’s how I would prepare mine: