What happened to the turbo flat-four?

It’s been three years since Porsche redesigned the Boxster and we’re finally witnessing the return of the iconic Spyder model. First introduced in 2009 and relaunched in 2015, the Boxster returns wearing the iconic "718" badge, which makes it the first car to wear the full name of its spiritual predecessor, the 718 Spyder of the 1960s. Just like the previous Boxster Spyder, the new sports car features a flat-six engine, as surprising choice given that the current 718 Boxster is a turbo, flat-four-only vehicle.

The Porsche 718 Spyder Looks the part

Porsche 718 Spyder Debuts with Flat-Six Engine and Sub-$100K Price
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*** The main highlight is obviously the revised deck lid, which now includes two flying buttresses ***

The current 718 Boxster is already one good-looking machine, mostly because it shares so many design features with the 911. The Spyder takes things up a notch thanks to its unique features. The main highlight is obviously the revised deck lid, which now includes two flying buttresses that remind of the iconic 911 Speedster. The Spyder also features a unique, manually operated fabric top that seals you inside when you need to take cover from cold or bad weather. This top has a lightweight design.

Porsche 718 Spyder Debuts with Flat-Six Engine and Sub-$100K Price
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But the Spyder isn’t just about a revised deck lid. It’s actually a drop-top version of the 718 Cayman GT4, so it shares many of the coupe’s race-inspired features. There’s a revised front outlet for improved cooling and downforce, an extending rear spoiler for extra downforce, and a new rear diffuser that reduces lift. it also rides on unique, twin-five-spoke wheels painted in silver. Overall, this thing is ready to hit the race track.

The Porsche 718 Spyder has a unique interior

*** Porsche went mainly with race-oriented equipment, such as a GT Sport steering wheel and Sports Seats Plus ***

The 718 Spyder is heavily based on the regular Boxster, but it has a few extra features and even some unique touches. Porsche went mainly with race-oriented equipment, such as a GT Sport steering wheel wrapped in Alcantara and Sports Seats Plus with raised side bolsters and seating surfaces in the same material. The shift lever and the lower part of the dashboard are also draped in Alcantara for a race-inspired look, while the trim is finished in body color. You can opt for other trim materials. The shift lever is shorter than the standard Boxster for a more direct feel when changing gears.

Porsche 718 Spyder Debuts with Flat-Six Engine and Sub-$100K Price
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The air conditioning and the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system with Sound Package Plus are fitted as standard. You can optionally upgrade your car to features such as navigation, Porsche Connect, and Apple CarPlay.

You can also order the 718 Spyder with the Spyder Classic Interior Package. This bundle includes two-tone leather in Bordeaux Red and black, extended Alcantara upholstery, and GT Silver Metallic trim. Porsche also throws in a new two-tone fabric top in black and red, a combination reminiscent of historic Porsche racing cars. Finally, you can opt for contrast stitching in red, silver, or yellow.

The Porsche 718 Spyder features a flat-six engine

*** The new engine displaces 4.0 liters and generates 414 horsepower and 309 pound-feet of torque ***

Porsche 718 Spyder Debuts with Flat-Six Engine and Sub-$100K Price
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Surprisingly enough, the 718 Spyder comes with a flat-six engine under the hood. Porsche’s choice is unexpected to say the least, as the 2015 redesign of the Boxster and Cayman saw the Germans replace the naturally aspirated flat-six with turbocharged, flat-four engines. Although I was expecting a higher revving version of the 2.5-liter unit in the Boxster S, Porsche chose to revive the flat-six for the Spyder.

The engine displaces 4.0 liters and it’s new according to Porsche. However, the unit is likely based on the old 3.8-liter, as it wouldn’t make sense financially for Porsche to develop a brand-new mill only for the 718 Spyder and 718 Cayman GT4. But we don’t know much at this point.

Porsche 718 Spyder Debuts with Flat-Six Engine and Sub-$100K Price
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What we do know is that the 4.0-liter flat-six is the largest engine ever fitted in the Boxster. It’s also the most powerful thanks to its 414-horsepower and 309-pound-foot rating. That’s an extra 44 horsepower over the previous Porsche Boxster Spyder of 2015, while torque remains identical. The new Spyder also generates an extra 49 horses over the 718 Boxster GTS, but falls behind by eight pound-feet in the torque department.

718 Spyder 2015 Boxster 718 Boxster GTS
414 hp 370 hp 365 hp
309 lb-ft 309 lb-ft 317 lb-ft

*** The sprint to 60 mph is achieved in 4.2 seconds, exactly two tenths quicker than the old Spyder ***

The 4.0-liter flat-six mates to a six-speed manual transmission, so that’s two good news for purists. The gearbox comes with an Auto Blip function that automatically matches gearbox and engine speeds during a downshift.

So how quick is the new 718 Boxster Spyder? The sprint to 60 mph is achieved in 4.2 seconds, exactly two tenths quicker than the old Spyder. On the other hand, this race-bred sports car is slower than the turbocharged Boxster GTS, which needs only 3.9 seconds to hit the same benchmark. As far as top speed goes, the Spyder reaches a respectable 187 mph, a mild update versus the old model and an extra seven mph compared to the Boxster GTS.

Engine 4-liter boxer-six
Power 414 horsepower
Torque 309 pound-feet
Gearbox 6-speed manual
0-60 mph 4.2 seconds
Top speed 187 mph

The new drivetrain also includes a new sports exhaust system for a brawnier engine note, a standard limited-slip differential with torque vectoring, and a Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system with active dampers. The Boxster Spyder sits 1.18 inches lower than a standard 718 Boxster and it allows for manual adjustments of camber, toe, ride height and anti-roll bar settings.

The front axle is borrowed from the 2018 911 GT3, while the rear axle is a bespoke. The brakes are also adopted from the 911 GT3.

The Porsche 718 Boxster Spyder is the most expensive Boxster yet

Porsche 718 Spyder Debuts with Flat-Six Engine and Sub-$100K Price
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The new 718 Spyder retails from $96,300, a sticker that makes it the most expensive Boxster model ever produced. It’s not the most expensive 718 though, as the Cayman GT4 fetches an extra $2,900. Add in the $1,250 delivery, processing, and handling fees and the price jumps to $97,450. That’s almost $17,000 more than 718 Boxster GTS. The Boxster Spyder is also $5,200 more expensive than the base Porsche 911 Carrera.

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