2020 Porsche 718 Spyder and 718 Cayman GT4 now available to order

2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4
Thanks to 414-hp and plenty of performance upgrades the new 2020 718 Cayman GT4 is the most capable of its kind yet. (Photo: Porsche)

Decades ago Porsche was criticized for not making entry-level models that measured up to the much mightier 911, examples being the now 50-year-old ‘69-‘76 mid-engine 914 and ‘76–‘88 front-engine 924, but since the mid-engine Boxster convertible and Cayman coupe arrived on the scene, complainants haven’t been anywhere near as vocal. 

Just the same, the brand’s new line of turbocharged flat-four powerplants that arrived in the current fourth-gen 718 series models have had their share of naysayers, yet while these engines’ barks aren’t quite as vicious sounding as the flat-six 911’s meatier growl, the 2.5-litre mill’s bite has kept most critics silent, particularly when tuned to GTS heights. 

With respect to the 986, 987, 981 and today’s 982 platform architectures, the Cayman and Boxster were near perfect performers from the very beginning thanks to their relatively light curb weights and inherently well-balanced mid-engine layouts, and every generation became even better at managing high-speed road and racetrack performance. 

2020 Porsche 718 Spyder
Choose the 718 Spyder if going topless in the quickest and most stylish Boxster ever is more to your liking. (Photo: Porsche)

As with the previous-gen Boxster and Cayman, the 718 series’ many more fans should also be happy to know that 2020 models are about to be built in their most formidable production trims yet, the upcoming 718 Spyder and 718 Cayman GT4 even capable of sprinting away from and outmaneuvering some 911 models. 

To fill you in on some background information, the 718 Cayman (currently on sale from $63,700), can be had in base 300-horsepower Cayman trim that’s capable of zero to 100km/h in just 5.1 seconds, or 4.9 seconds when hooked up to its optional paddle shift-operated dual-clutch PDK automatic transmission, or a speedy 4.7 seconds with the PDK and the car’s available Sport Chrono Package, while if you keep its right pedal planted it can hit a top track speed of 275 km/h. 

The entry-level coupe can also be upgraded to 350-horsepower Cayman S trim ($78,600), which can spirit away from standstill to 100km/h in only 4.6, 4.4 and 4.2 seconds respectively, plus it tops out at an even higher 285 km/h, while lastly the 365-horsepower Cayman GTS ($92,600) is capable of running from 0 to 100km/h in 4.6, 4.3 and 4.1 seconds respectively, while it claims a top speed of 290 km/h. 

2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4
The 718 Cayman GT4 has a massive rear wing. (Photo: Porsche)

The just-noted 718 Cayman GT4 arrives at the top of this pecking order, just like the previous version did when introduced in 2015. Where the old Cayenne (and Boxster) had flat-six engines throughout its range, the new GT4 replaces the 718’s 2.0- and 2.5-litre turbocharged flat-four engines with a downgraded (but still amazing) version of the wonderfully high-revving naturally-aspirated 4.0-litre H-6 from the 911 GT3, producing a generous 414-horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque, which is a 29-hp bump over the previous GT4 due in part to a sonorous 8,000-rpm redline, while it’s solely conjoined to a six-speed manual transmission just like the 911 GT3, all combining for a zero to 100km/h sprint time of 4.4 seconds, plus a terminal velocity of 304 km/h. 

As for the 718 Spyder, which also updates a previous 2016 model, it shares all of the same mechanical bits as the Cayman GT4. This means it’s 39 hp more potent than the outgoing Spyder, resulting in the same 4.4-second 100-km/h sprint time as the Cayman GT4, although its top speed is fractionally lower at 301 km/h. Unlike the GT4, mind you, the open-top Spyder is quite different than the model using the Boxster nameplate, despite housed in its basic tub. 

2020 Porsche 718 Spyder
The 718 Spyder gets two “streamliners” on its backside as well as an auto-deploying spoiler. (Photo: Porsche)

As noted earlier, the two new cars’ utilize a six-speed manual gearbox, which isn’t all that unusual in the class, but interestingly this transmission includes downshift rev-matching, or rather what Porsche refers to as an “Auto Blip” function, which automatically matches a given cog to engine speed when dropping a gear. Fortunately, Porsche makes this feature optional, in that a driver can individually activate or defeat it via a button. Also standard, both new models feature a totally new and exclusively designed sport exhaust system that works its way around the cars’ complex rear diffusers while making the most of the “exciting flat-six sound of the engine,” noted Porsche in its press release. 

With respect to the two models’ outward designs, some key elements of the 718 Spyder appear like they were pulled from the 918 Spyder, not to mention the more recently introduced 911 Speedster. The 918 may have helped to inspire the 718 Spyder’s lower front fascia and similar, albeit much more pronounced, double-hump rear deck lid buttresses, while the new 911 Speedster may have influenced the 718 Spyder’s aggressive frontal treatment and double-bubble rear deck “streamliners”, as well as the new convertible’s vented hood, the “Spyder” lettering on its shortened B-pillars (which read “Speedster” on the 911), the similarly sculpted automatically-deploying rear spoiler, and the working rear diffuser. 

2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4
Aerodynamics play a key role with both new 718 cars. (Photo: Porsche)

The new 718 Cayman GT4, on the other hand, pulls forward a number of similar styling cues and aero details from its 2016 predecessor, including the aggressively shaped front fascia, the horizontal black strip of hood venting, the large fixed rear wing, the wind-cheating rear diffuser, and the uniquely designed alloys, all developed with a focus on minimizing weight and maximizing downforce. The fact Porsche even painted both GT4 launch cars in a seemingly identical yellow hue is no coincidence either, just like they once again coated the latest 718 Spyder launch model in white. 

With an eye looking back to aerodynamics, each and every 718 Cayman GT4 exterior upgrade combines for 50 percent greater downforce with no negative affects on drag. Most of the aero advantages can be attributed to the new diffuser and rear wing elements, the latter feature good for 20-percent greater aero-efficiency than the outgoing GT4 wing. At the other end of the car, a deep lip spoiler joins up with air curtains to each side, this helping to channel air around the front wheels. 

2020 Porsche 718 Spyder
Both models get unique interior trims, including plenty of soft Alcantara psuede. (Photo: Porsche)

Now with our focus on the 718 Spyder’s aero upgrades, its adaptive rear wing automatically powers upwards at 120 km/h, but unlike the conventional 718 Boxster’s retractable fabric roof, the Spyder’s top doesn’t benefit from electrical assistance, but instead requires manual removal and stowage below the rear deck cover. When replaced on top of the passenger compartment, Porsche promises a roof that can manage the Spyder’s high top speed without issue, providing full protection from wind, rain and more. 

Behind the scenes, both new models integrate a lightweight, high-performance chassis design that’s capable of keeping the engine and aero capabilities in check. Porsche leaned on its extensive motorsport heritage in order to achieve an ideal balance for the new Spyder and GT4, choosing to equip both with a model-exclusive rear axle, and a front axle adopted from the 2018 911 GT3. 

2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4
Form-fitting sport seats come standard. (Photo: Porsche)

Additional standard features include Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), providing a 30-millimetre ride-height reduction when compared to regular 718 models, this lowering the new models’ centre of gravity, thus improving overall handling. Still, owners have the ability to manually adjust the suspensions’ camber, toe, ride-height and anti-roll bar settings, important for those who regularly hone their skills on the track. 

The now legendary 911 GT3 also provided the two new models’ braking setup, including their larger 380-mm cast iron rotors and fixed aluminum calipers, while buyers of either car can choose to upgrade to a set of ceramic composite brakes if desired, these 50-percent lighter and featuring discs that measure 410 mm up front and 390 mm in the rear. Additionally, the 718 Spyder and Cayman GT4 feature specially tuned ABS, electronic stability control (ESC) and traction control (TC) systems that enhance the cars’ performance, with these ESC and TC systems capable of being switched off via a two-stage process. 

Yet more upgrades include a standard mechanical limited-slip differential with Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV), plus unique 20-inch alloy rims shod with 245/35ZR20 front and 295/30ZR20 rear UHP rubber. 

2020 Porsche 718 Spyder
The 414-hp flat-six gets an exclusive sport exhaust system. (Photo: Porsche)

As you may have noticed, the many performance upgrades mentioned up to this point don’t necessarily make the new 718 Spyder or 718 Cayman GT4 quicker off the line than GTS versions of either model, but both are faster on the track, and therefore should be better for everyday driving, at least when pushing the limits. With respect to racetrack limits, Porsche claims its new 718 Cayman GT4 is capable of lapping the Nürburgring Nordschleife “more than ten seconds faster than its predecessor.” 

Making the two new models more enjoyable to live with are upgraded interiors that include a special 360-mm GT Sport steering wheel with a cool yellow top-centre “marker” in Cayman GT4 trim. Additionally, both 718 Spyder and Cayman GT4 receive a 20-mm shorter shift lever that provides a “more direct and crisp feel” when changing gears. What’s more, a new Sport Seats Plus package comes standard, boasting seats with larger side bolsters to enhance lateral support, plus suede-like Alcantara inserts to improve backside grip. Alcantara also gets applied to a lower portion of the instrument panel, as well as the shift knob and boot, and the previously mentioned steering wheel rim. 

2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4
Porsche offers plenty of upgrades, including multi-colour interior accents. (Photo: Porsche)

On top of this, some cabin accents include body-colour trim for the 718 Spyder, and brushed aluminum details for the 718 Cayman GT4, while Porsche offers plenty of available décor upgrades as well. What’s more, you can opt for a set of full bucket seats or an 18-way power-adjustable Adaptive Sport Seats Plus package, but take note you won’t be required to pay more for air conditioning or the brand’s newest Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system that also features Sound Package Plus. This said, a navigation system and Porsche Connect, featuring Apple CarPlay, are optional. 

Also noteworthy, the 718 Spyder can be ordered with a Spyder Classic Interior Package that includes two-tone Bordeaux Red and Black leather upholstery, extended Alcantara, GT silver metallic interior trim, and a two-tone black and red fabric top, the latter “reminiscent of historic Porsche racing cars” says Porsche. Alternatively, red, silver, or yellow contrast stitching is available. 

However you’d like to order yours, I wouldn’t recommend waiting too long as Canada’s allotment will soon be spoken for. They’re currently available to order, with pricing beginning at $110,500 for the 718 Spyder, and $113,800 for the 718 Cayman GT4, plus a freight charge and other fees of course. 

While you’re waiting for your new 2020 718 Spyder or 718 Cayman GT4 to arrive, make sure to check out all the videos Porsche provided below: 

The new Porsche 718 Spyder. Perfectly irrational. (1:03):

The new Porsche 718 Spyder. Product highlights. (2:25):

The new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4. Product highlights. (2:13):

The new Porsche 718 GT4. Perfectly irrational. (1:01):

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann  

Photo credits: Porsche

All-new Mercedes CLA promises big improvements when it arrives this fall

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
Say hello to the fabulous looking new 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Since arriving on the subcompact luxury scene six years ago, the Mercedes-Benz CLA has been in a constant sparring session with Audi’s A3, but when the challenger from Ingolstadt said so long to its conventionally-powered five-door hatchback and we all said hello to an entirely new four-door sport sedan, the four-ringed brand has enjoyed a slight sales lead over its sporty four-door coupe competitor. 

Of course, M-B and Audi aren’t the only two battling it out for entry-level premium car customers, with Mercedes’ very own B-Class MPV luring in plenty each year from its faithful following, not to mention Acura with its ILX sedan, BMW with its 2 Series coupe and convertible, etcetera, but the problems facing this class aren’t as simple as a handful of rivals doing their best to one-up each other anymore, but rather getting noticed in a luxury market that’s a lot more about SUVs than anything that hugs the pavement so closely. 

For this reason we’ve all got to give Mercedes a round of applause (or maybe a standing ovation) for courageously hitting back with myriad car models in most every luxury segment while others are fleeing. In fact, Mercedes will soon offer more models within the subcompact luxury sector than some competitors have cars, period. Perhaps we can chalk this up to being in the automotive industry longer than any rival, a reality that provided experience through plenty of changes in market sentiment, or possibly it’s just plain stubbornness, but whatever the reason, this German brand not only offers six sedans, two wagons, seven coupes, and six convertibles for a total of 21 different body styles you can purchase right here in Canada, right now, but on top of these the Stuttgart-based marque will be adding the A-Class sedan later this year, bumping its car count up to 22, a mind-blowing pavement-hugging lineup in an auto market that’s supposedly only purchasing high-riding SUVs these days. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
With completely new styling from front to back, the new CLA provides a more aggressive new look that’s bound to excite compact luxury buyers. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Of course Mercedes-Benz, Canada’s number one-selling luxury automotive retailer, is capable of filling nearly every niche anyone can conjure up because of its enviable brand equity. Build it and they will come, or so the paraphrased saying goes, and for the most part it’s true. Just look at this subcompact luxury car sector that most brands aren’t even participating in. Mercedes’ B-Class has been attracting entry-level buyers since 2005 when it arrived as a 2006 model, while the same Canadian M-B retailers have been selling the CLA since 2013 (check out pricing and more for the current CLA-Class right here on CarCostCanada now), and the new A-Class hatchback since January. 

Through the first two months of 2019, Mercedes’ collective subcompact luxury sales (including the B-Class) tallied up to 606 units, which dwarfed the 350 Audi A3s sold into the same market, let alone BMW that only managed to sell 139 2 Series and i3 models during the same two months, and as noted we haven’t even seen sales from the lower priced M-B A-Class sedan kick in, or for that matter this entirely new CLA four-door coupe that will hit the streets this fall, building on a success story that’s been pretty impressive so far. 

“With the first CLA we celebrated a huge success by selling some 750,000 vehicles and created a totally new segment with a four-door coupe in the compact class,” says Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Marketing & Sales. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
These are by far the most complex LED headlamps in the subcompact luxury sector. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Interestingly, more than two thirds of Canadian CLA buyers were new to Mercedes during that model’s peak sales stint, while it’s also critical to point out that these new M-B owners were seven years younger than the brand’s usual average age of clientele. Later this year Canadians will be given the choice of four recently updated or completely new subcompact models (five if you divide the A-Class into its current hatchback and upcoming sedan body types), with this CLA being the most expressive, and sportiest in the collection, and plenty of these newfound Mercedes owners will more than likely stay with the brand when it comes time to trade in and escalate up to fancier more profitable models within the lineup, as their income increases with age and experience. 

“The new CLA is even more emotional and sportier than its predecessor,” continued Seeger. “Coupled with new operating systems, it sets a new benchmark for the entire class.” 

There’s a very big reason Mercedes chose the Las Vegas’ Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to debut its new CLA last January, the massive Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment interface that, together with its integrated digital instrument cluster, spans much of the car’s instrument panel, but its attractive new styling caused more of an initial crowd. 

Most should agree the new CLA looks more mature due to its seemingly stern forward-slanting sport grille design, which Mercedes claimed is “reminiscent of a shark’s nose” in its press release. Found in front of a lengthier hood highlighted by sculpted “powerdomes”, the new grille is bookended by a more angular set of LED Multibeam headlights incorporating 18 individually-controllable LED elements, all hovering above a more intricately detailed lower front apron. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
Like the headlights, the new CLA’s LED taillights are hardly short on signature lighting elements. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Additionally, the new CLA boasts muscled up side panels with flared fenders, while its entire roofline has been positioned farther toward the rear for a more traditional GT design. The more conventional look continues at the back thanks to a rectangular trunk cutout between totally new LED tail lamps that, like the lenses up front, are narrower and laid out higher and more horizontally for a wider overall appearance. Not only fresher and arguably better looking, the extensively wind tunnel-tested 2020 CLA is now much slicker through the air resulting in a 0.23 coefficient of drag. 

“As a four-door coupe, the new CLA intrigues with its puristic, seductive design and sets new standards in the design DNA of ‘sensual purity’. It impresses with its perfect proportions reflecting the first design sketch: a long, stretched hood, a compact greenhouse, a wide track with exposed wheel arches and our typical GT rear with a strong distinctive ‘Coke-bottle shoulder’,” said Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer of Daimler AG. “In short, the CLA Coupe has the potential to become a modern design icon.” 

The updated CLA’s interior is obviously focused on a younger customer, the vivid orange highlights of the show car and sizeable conjoined digital displays right out of the iPad, Surface and Galaxy Tab playbooks. The fixed-freestanding widescreen combination includes a gauge cluster to the left, which removes the need for an instrument hood altogether, and an infotainment touchscreen to the right, the latter controlled by Mercedes’ trademark palm-rest and new touchpad (the scrolling wheel is gone) on the lower console. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The new CLA’s dash design makes everything else in the subcompact luxury segment look old. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Do-it-yourself shifting comes via a set of paddles behind the 9 and 3 o’clock positions of the beautifully detailed leather-clad flat-bottom sport steering wheel, while above the previously noted infotainment controller is an elegantly thin climate control interface. Lastly, if that mammoth display didn’t first tug at your eyeballs, the stunning turbine-style circular HVAC ducts across the dash certainly should have. 

Back to the mother of all in-car electronic interfaces, which was actually introduced in the new A-Class a year ago and E-Class before that, the graphically stimulating multi-information display and surrounding digital dials sits next to Mercedes new high-resolution MBUX infotainment system as noted earlier. Along with fully customizable displays, Augmented Reality navigation that reportedly provides a much more realistic mapping system plus more, the new system’s computing power is greatly enhanced over the CLA’s outgoing system, and even features software that can “learn and respond to natural speech,” said Mercedes-Benz. 

If you’ve ever struggled to get a voice activation system to understand your prompts you may be glad to hear this next bit of news, because M-B’s new voice assistant is said to communicate more closely to Amazon Alexa, with the simple prompt of “Hey Mercedes” leading to more capability than any other in-car voice system offered thus far. What’s more, it’s intelligent enough to recognize the speech patterns of the individual asking the question, even when others are engaged in a different conversation. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The MBUX system’s graphics are so mesmerizing you might just find yourself driving off the road. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

“The latest version of voice control for MBUX – the Mercedes-Benz User Experience – can be experienced in the new CLA. For example, the voice assistant ‘Hey Mercedes’ is able to recognize and answer considerably more complex queries,” said Sajjad Khan, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars for CASE and Head of Digital Vehicle & Mobility. “What’s more, the voice assistance no longer gets confused by other passenger’s conversations. Instead it only responds to the commands of the person who last said ‘Hey Mercedes’ to activate the system.” 

Additionally, Mercedes says their new MBUX voice assistant can even recognize and respond to more complex indirect questions, such as “Find Italian restaurants with at least four stars that are open for lunch but exclude pizza shops,” for example. It can also manage a greater assortment of subjects, with other press release-cited examples including “Hey Mercedes, How did the Toronto Raptors play?” when referencing sports news, or “How has the Apple share price performed compared to Microsoft?” for its take on business news. If you need a quick calculation, MBUX can do that for you too, with the example given being, “What is the square roof of 9?” while Mercedes provided the questions “How big is Texas?” and “What is the fat content of avocados?” for the general knowledge category. 

While some potential buyers may ante up for the new CLA just to for MBUX alone, plenty of others will appreciate the car’s larger overall size. It now measures 48 millimetres (1.9 inches) longer at 4,688 mm (184.5 in), while its wheelbase has been stretched by 30 mm (1.2 in) at 2,729 mm (107.4 in). Additionally, it spans 53 mm (2.1 in) wider at 1,830 mm (72.0 in) without the side mirrors, and finally its roofline is 2 mm (0.1 in) lower at 1,439 mm (56.6 in). 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
With infotainment that rivals the best of today’s tablets, the new CLA should appeal to younger buyers and the young at heart. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

As you can guess it’s more accommodating inside, but while those up front enjoy 17 mm (0.6 in) of additional headroom, and rear passengers get 3 mm (0.1 in) more space overhead, whereas shoulder room has been improved by 9 mm (0.3 in) up front and 22 mm (0.8 in) in the rear, plus front to rear elbow room grows by 35 and 44 mm (1.4 and 1.7 in) respectively, front legroom has actually shrunken by one millimetre, while legroom in the back seat lengthens by just a single millimetre as well. 

The cargo compartment is smaller too, but just by 10 litres (0.3 cubic feet) to a still-sizeable 460 litres (16.2 cu ft), while on the positive the new CLA’s squarer trunk lid width increases by a whopping 262 mm (10.3 in), plus the load floor was widened by 113 mm (4.4 in) wider and deepened by 24 mm (0.9 in). 

Lift the opening at the other end and you’ll once again find a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine underneath, and while Mercedes hasn’t shared performance figures for its most affordable CLA 250 variant yet, it will likely measure up to the new A 250 Hatchback, which makes 221 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque for a 13 horsepower gain and identical twist. Putting power down to the front wheels or 4MATIC all-wheel drive is Mercedes’ in-house 7G-DCT twin-clutch automated gearbox, with a beefed up version of the transmission and standard AWD expected to be included in the (finger’s crossed) AMG variant, the current performance model good for 375 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
An elegantly thin HVAC panel floats above the CLA’s minimalist lower console, replete with an all-new touchpad infotainment controller. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

An increased dimension not yet mentioned is track width, which is up a healthy 63 mm (2.5 in) at the front wheels and 55 mm (2.1 in) in the rear, while the CLA also benefits from a lower centre of gravity, all of which should combine for a big improvement in overall performance. Additional chassis improvements include a Direct-Steer system and hydromounts up front, while the rear suspension includes a decoupled multi-link axle that reduces NVH, plus bigger stabilizer bars for reducing body roll. Lastly, 18-inch wheels shod in 225/45 tires should come standard, while 19-inch alloys wearing 225/40 rubber will be available. 

And what about advanced driver assistance and safety systems? Standard with the CLA will be Active Brake Assist, while Active Lane Keep Assist, which helps to centre drivers within their lane and prevents them from unexpectedly veering off the road, will be optional by choosing the Intelligent Drive Package that also incorporates Pre-Safe Plus with rear traffic warning and an automatic backup braking system. 

Also notable, the Intelligent Drive Package, which debuted in Mercedes’ flagship S-Class, can pilot the CLA autonomously in certain circumstances, but Mercedes is quick to point out that this semi-autonomous system still needs “cooperative driver support,” or at least it will until its many advanced functions are allowed to work on their own. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
M-B adds a lot more width to new CLA’s interior. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Produced in Kecskemét, Hungary, the redesigned 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA should help increase Mercedes’ command of the subcompact luxury car market when it joins the new A-Class sedan for autumn 2019 availability (find new A-Class Sedan and Hatchback pricing and more right here on CarCostCanada now), not to mention the A-Class Hatchback, GLA-Class subcompact crossover SUV and who knows what else (but according to Mercedes more are coming), and by so doing secure an entirely new generation of three-pointed star devotees. 

Story credit: Trevor Hofmann 

Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz