New Porsche 718 Spyder RS 2023 review
Time in the new Porsche 718 Spyder RS proves that it demands commitment, but that it also offers a huge amount in return
The hardcore 718 Spyder RS bids an emotional farewell to the Boxster as a combustion-engined sports car. The car’s truly intense character, breathtaking performance and blade-sharp handling more than live up to the RS name, but its fiddly roof and full-on delivery ensure it’s best suited to committed purists looking for weekend thrills. However, as a send-off model, the Spyder RS is a fitting farewell from Porsche.
The Porsche 718 Spyder RS is the most extreme Boxster ever made. It’s also the first soft-top Porsche to be given the hallowed RS nameplate. And, as if those two landmarks weren’t momentous enough, according to Porsche, it is also the last Boxster to feature a combustion engine.
With a starting price of £125,499, this is also the most expensive Boxster ever. Order books opened in May, and UK deliveries are expected at the end of the year.
We travelled to the Swabian Alps just south of Porsche’s HQ in Stuttgart to get an early taste of this era-ending sports car.
Closely related to the Cayman GT4 RS, the 718 Spyder RS features the same magnificent 4.0-litre naturally aspirated flat-six engine. Also found in the tail of all 992 GT3 models, this motor is an all-time great. Revving to a screaming 9,000rpm and developing 493bhp and 450Nm of torque, it punches the 1,410kg RS Spyder from rest to 62mph in just 3.4 seconds, and on to a top speed of 191mph.
Although aimed at purists, the Spyder RS is not track focused like the GT4 RS. Where the racy Cayman features a super-stiff suspension set-up and an aggressive aerodynamic package aimed at delivering ultimate lap times, the Spyder RS is aimed at maximum enjoyment on the road.
It hits the spot with PASM adaptive suspension softened by approximately 50 per cent next to that of the GT4 RS, plus dialled-back aerodynamics that cancel lift at higher speeds, rather than generating positive downforce. The result is a less extreme road car, but one that looks great, slices through corners, goes meaningfully faster and feels more aggressive than the already fabulous 718 Spyder.
It’s tempting to imagine this car with a manual gearbox, but like all RS models, it is only available with Porsche’s razor-sharp seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission. That’s no hardship. The paddleshift ’box is lightning fast (especially when PDK Sport mode is selected) and the gears are shorter so you can always tap into the hottest zone of the 9,000rpm rev range.
Breathing through carbon-fibre air intakes on either side of the cockpit, the engine produces all manner of gargles, snarls and bellows that resonate around the induction system and yell from the exhaust pipes. It’s possible to quell the decibels if you keep the throttle opening to a minimum, but in practice the Spyder RS is never anything less than raucous. It’ll be undoubtedly too much for some, but those who wish to celebrate the combustion engine will love it.
Unique to the Spyder RS is its clever but somewhat fiddly weather protection system, a philosophy that’s been carried over for this new car from past 718 Spyder models.
Designed to be both as light and compact as possible, this two-piece system comprises a single-layer roof and separate weather deflector; the former can be used independently of the latter. Manually operated and attached via a single latch on the windscreen header rail and a system of tensioning cables and clips at the rear, the ‘sun sail’ provides more-than-acceptable shelter, but you need to fit the weather deflector as well to be completely watertight.
The removable components of the roof system weigh just 8kg and pack neatly beneath the rear deck. Roof-up refinement is undeniably compromised by the flyweight construction, but being connected with the elements is all part of the Spyder RS experience and, we have to say, rather fun. That induction noise is front and centre, ever present and totally addictive.
On the subject of weight, too, there are more lightweight options you can choose to further trim a few extra kilos from the car’s kerbweight, including spending an extra £11,573 on a set of 20-inch forged magnesium wheels that are 10kg lighter than the standard rims, which are also 20 inches in diameter.
There’s also the £9,309 Weissach package, which adds a bare carbon-fibre bonnet, mirrors and air intakes, plus titanium tailpipe trims. Build numbers aren’t limited, but are restricted by production capacity at the factory. Like all RS Porsches, demand is sure to exceed supply. On the evidence of our drive, those who secure their order are in for a treat.
|Model:||Porsche 718 Spyder RS|
|Engine:||4.0-litre flat-six petrol|
|Transmission:||Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, rear-wheel drive|