You Had Me At Spyder

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Porsche 718 Spyder interior (1)
While many features of the Porsche 718 Spyder are very 21st century, the cockpit is decidedly old school.

The 2023 Porsche 718 convertible could be love at first sight.

By Joe Yogerst

 

It may seem crazy to advocate a convertible sports car with all the rain we’ve had in Southern California this year.

But now, summer is here, and when the ragtop in question is the super-sweet, midengine Porsche 718 Spyder, it’s hard to resist the notion that this car is cool to drive—and be seen driving—no matter the season. Plus, it does come with a partially electric, fabric roof for those blustery days along the coast when the sun don’t shine.

To quote an old Linda Ronstadt song, just one look and you’re hooked. What’s not to love about the classic, streamlined Porsche styling? The car looks and acts like it was engineered to turn heads on Pacific Coast Highway, makes you feel like a million bucks (no, that’s not how much it costs) and goes fast—very fast, with a top speed of 187 miles per hour.

And when it finally speaks, the growl of the naturally aspirated 4.0-liter flat-six engine as you rev it in neutral and that unmistakable Porsche roar as the vehicle accelerates from zero to 60 in a mere 3.4 seconds makes it feel like you’re starting the 24 Hours of Le Mans (although you may not want to taking a flying leap into the driver’s seat like they did in bygone days at the famous French track).

So, why is it called a Spyder? That was the name given to the legendary Porsche 550 of the 1950s and early 1960s: the little silver speedsters that helped make the marquee famous via motor racing victories, the original 1954 cinematic version of “The Fast and the Furious” and its association with James Dean.

But the name goes back farther, to the late 1800s when fast, lightweight, open-topped horse-drawn carriages were called spiders (or spyders) because people thought their large, thin-spoked wheels resembled arachnid legs. When motor vehicles came around, it just seemed natural to transfer the nickname to fast, lightweight, open-topped roadsters.

While the powertrain, six-speed manual transmission, adaptive GT sport suspension with GT brakes, and safety features like a rearview camera are all very 21st century, the cockpit is decidedly old school. So don’t expect a lot of high tech on standard models, which start at $103,400. You’ll have to pay extra for navigation, heated seats, automatic climate control, surround sound and other post-modern gadgetry.

As Porsche proudly points out, this car was made for driving.

 

75 Years of Porsche

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles is marking 75 years of speed and styling with a special exhibit titled “We Are Porsche.” In addition to 40 vehicles that trace the German automaker’s street and motorsport heritage, the show features podcasts, immersive in-person experiences and lots of Porsche merchandise. It will be on display through April 2024. (petersen.org/porsche-75)

DEALERSHIP INFO

Porsche Newport Beach

445 E. Pacific Coast Highway

949-478-0590; porschenewportbeach.com

 

0. 718 Spyder front end (3)

The Porsche 718’s distinctive FRONT-END DESIGN, similar to that of its Cayman GT4 cousin, is all about maximizing aerodynamics via a spoiler lip and large horizontal air intake that help generate downforce and reduce lift.

 

3. 718 Spyder fabric roof(1)

At the touch of a button on the center console, the lightweight FABRIC ROOF emerges from its cubbyhole behind the roll bars and must then be pulled into position and fastened to the body by hand. Some people find it burdensome though others enjoy the throwback to an era when all ragtops came that way.

 

0. Porsche 718 Spyder overview (2)

Set behind twin rollover bars, the raised aluminum streamliners are another aerodynamic aid but also a nod to the futuristically contoured bodies that characterized 1950s Porsches. They lead the eye to the REAR spoiler and over the back end to the double-pipe sports exhaust system and diffuser.

 

4. 718 Spyder wheels (2)The 20-inch 718 Spyder WHEELS come in four colors: standard silver, satin black, satin aurum and satin platinum. Six-piston aluminum brake calipers add a touch of color and help the car stop on that proverbial dime.

Photos by Porsche Cars North America

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