Best Porsche cars ever: Porsche 718 Spyder RS

Potentially the last hoorah of a petrol-powered 718, we take it up the hill for a thrilling send off

Key specs
Engine6cyl boxer
Capacity4.0 litres
Power500bhp
Top speed191mph

Short of transporting the entire contents from its well-stocked museum to the West Sussex countryside, it’s inevitable that Porsche would miss many possible highlights from its 75 years. We were cheered, then, when the 718 Spyder RS was listed among the cars that would be entertaining the throngs of automotive enthusiasts at Goodwood.

Why? A couple of reasons, not least the fact that this car represents Porsche’s mid-engined models, which, entirely wrongfully, are often overlooked by fans of the marque. With their lineage going back to 1996 and littered with some incredible driver’s cars, the Porsche Boxster and its coupé Cayman relation have offered Porsche driving thrills at a (slightly) more affordable price point than the 911. 

Secondly, this car will be a milestone car, and they’re always significant in Porsche model lines, with Porsche having stated that when it’s replaced in the next few years, the 718 Boxster/Cayman line will swap out the mid-mounted flat-six (or turbocharged flat-four in some models) for an electric motor and a battery pack. We know Porsche can make an impressive EV, as it has proven with the Taycan, but this is a paradigm shift among the brand’s sports car range, and it’s a hugely significant one.

As you’d expect, the 718 isn’t going out on anything less than a mighty high, Porsche applying its hallowed RS badge to the 718, along with the Spyder, the two combining to deliver the promise of a driver’s car unburdened with anything other than purist driving thrills. There’s a GT4 RS out there, too, but there’s something about this type of car that lends itself to open-top motoring, even more so when, as here, it’s a Spyder, which means opening (and more correctly, closing) that roof is a bit of a chore. A frivolous car that’s very singular in its intent, the Spyder RS feels and looks like Porsche’s last hurrah in this segment, and, holy moly, it’s an incredible one.

RS badging usually means a track-focused warrior, but with the Spyder RS there’s been a recognition that most examples will be driven on the road. It is also a bit of a tacit admission that the manufacturer wants you to buy the 911 GT3 RS if setting ultimate lap times is your principal goal.

Our drive is brief, naturally, and as lengthy as the Duke’s front drive is, it’s not that long. What’s obvious immediately is just how responsive and feelsome the Spyder RS is. That it’s a driver’s car is apparent from the intensity of the intake noise, the flat-six’s appetite when gulping in air unlike anything else that’s been offered with number plates. And so it should be, after all, if Porsche is going to have a last bash at producing its ultimate internally combusted mid-engined open car, it really ought to throw everything it’s got at the project. 

And it’s done exactly that, to phenomenal effect, because with the 4.0-litre high-revving flat-six from the 911 GT3, allied to shorter gear ratios selected by instantaneous shifts via the PDK paddle-shifted auto, this really is driving a car that’s for the moment, and that moment won’t be around for much longer. It’s a special, special machine, and that battery-electric 718 has a seriously tough act to follow.

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