Now in the third year of its fourth generation, the Porsche Boxster has become today’s preeminent mid-engine roadster. Well, Porsche, being Porsche, continues to refine the heck out of it; and for 2020, we get the most capable Boxster ever, in the form of this 718 Spyder.
The Spyder name is not new to the Boxster family of course, with examples released in 2011 and 2016; not to mention other legendary Porsche examples, such as the 550 Spyder, which inspired the Boxster in the first place.
This one follows much the same formula: less weight; plus more power; times a full chassis revision; equals a Boxster that can’t be beat!
The first thing we noticed inside is a steering wheel that is gloriously devoid of controls, possibly from the Bauhaus school of functionality and simplicity of design. There aren’t even paddle shifters. Why? That’s because no PDK is available, all Spyders come with a 6-speed manual with short throw shifter from over in the GT race shop.
So obviously, this one’s for the drivers. Thus, it shares the Cayman GT4’s chassis with sub-frames straight off of the 911 GT3. That means lightweight track-worthy struts, springs, and ball joints; as well as Porsche Active Suspension Management with ride height lowered by over an inch compared to the standard 718.
Wheels are lightweight 20s, with ultra-high performance Michelin PilotSport Cup 2 tires.
Brakes are upgraded too, but you can opt to go the full ceramic composite route as well.
Updates to the front bodywork are all about airflow, channeling as much as possible for cooling, as well as using it to push the front wheels into the pavement.
In the interest of weight savings, the top is manually operated. It’s a multi-step process that starts by releasing the header latch with the press of a button on the console or the key fob, followed by detaching each side wing. Then it’s a matter of lifting up the large one-piece rear deck and folding the top under it, and closing everything up.
The deck itself, is surprisingly light, and of course features a twin hump design that is as sexy-looking as it is functional. The active rear spoiler behind it, is larger than on the standard 718, deploying at 75 miles-per-hour to add a significant amount of downforce.
And underneath all of that, is a new single-muffler exhaust system optimized for both performanc and aerodynamic efficiency, packaged in a new rear diffuser.
Pushing noise through those pipes is a beefed-up, naturally-aspirated version of the 911 Carrera S’s 4.0-liter flat-6 with 414-horsepower and 309 lb-ft. of torque. Max torque arrives at 5,000 RPM, but you’ll probably find yourself running it up to its 8,000 RPM max as often as possible.
It’s a true treat for all of your senses, and makes the estimated 4.2-seconds that Porsche claims for 0-60 a certainty.
For our exclusive drive time in the Los Angeles area, we quickly headed for the canyons, and the twistier the road got, the more the Spyder felt in its element. It was like a magical first date where you’re instantly in sync, skipping right through small talk and going directly to more meaningful conversation.
Ride quality is quite firm, but after a full day of canyon carving and navigating L.A. freeways, we were none the worse for wear, and would sign up to do it again instantly.
So, road trips are not out of thequestion with both front and rear cargo areas for a combined 9.4 cubic-ft.; you’ll just have to access the rear one a little differently.
These optional carbon fiber seats take some effort to get into, but are way more comfortable than you’d think.
There is a hint of minimalism inside, mainly just the presence of the fabric pull-straps for door handles. Otherwise, all the creature comforts of a luxury car, with the feel of a race car. And Porsche’s Chrono Package is standard.
You can still get a 718 Boxster for as little as $60,950, but the exclusivity and performance that comes with the Spyder will cost you just under 40-grand more, at $97,650.
And the truth is, that base Boxster is so fantastic, it’s hard to say that upgrading to this 2020 718 Spyder is a necessity. But if you’re seeking the type of deep and meaningful automotive conversation that only Porsche’s finest can deliver, then this is the Boxster for you.
Engine: 4.0L flat-6
Torque: 309 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 4.2 seconds