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Porsche unveils jacked-up 911 Dakar inspired by rally legends. Image by Porsche.

Porsche unveils jacked-up 911 Dakar inspired by rally legends
Porsche 911 Dakar is taller and therefore slower than a standard 911, but itís very, very desirable.
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What's all this about?

This is the Porsche 911 Dakar and no, your eyes do not deceive you. And no, itís not a concept designed to titillate the enthusiast community: this is really is an all-terrain 911, deliveries of which are due to begin early next year. The first thing to notice is the raised ride-height (just under two inches taller than a standard 911) and the chunky off-road tyres. Then thereís the roof rack up top too. All this suggests this is a 911 designed for off-the-beaten-track adventures as opposed to tearing up an asphalt track.

So what's brought this on?

Probably a range of factors. The last few years has seen the rise of the ďSafariĒ style concept and one-off build ó cars inspired by the beefed-up rally cars on the 1970s (including Porsches) that were toughened with skid plates, longer springs and big floodlights to tackle the likes of the Safari Rally in Kenya. Porsche hasnít quite gone back to the early seventies for its inspiration for the Dakar, but rather to the mid-eighties when a heavily-modified all-wheel-drive 911 (the 953 in internal parlance) took outright victory on the trans-Saharan Paris-Dakar Rally in 1984, a year ahead of the unveiling of Porscheís first all-wheel-drive road car, the 959. The new variant pays tribute to the 953 not just in its stance, but in the optional Rally Design Package, an exterior extra which allows buyers to option their Dakar in a similar colour scheme to the Rothmans-liveried Paris-Dakar cars.

So any major differences to a standard 911?

Visually, yes, plenty. Thereís that 50mm lift in ride-height for starters, the Pirelli off-road tyres, the roof rack, the carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) bonnet and fixed rear wing from the 911 GT3, stainless steel skid plates, wider wheel arches and the stainless steel grilles on the air intakes to guard against flying rocks. Under the skin though, this is mostly standard 911 with the same 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat-six engine as the Carrera 4S, developing 480hp and 570Nm of torque, all send to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Anything mechanical to help it tackle the rough stuff?

It does have rear axle steering, dynamic engine mounts and active roll stabilisation, but chief among the changes to make it better able to deal with less-than-perfect surfaces are the driving modes, Rally and Offroad. Rally sends the majority of the power to the rear wheels and itís primarily intended for loose gravel and sand. Offroad is for when the trail starts to get rocky, and an extra 30mm of ground clearance can be provided at the touch of rotary controller on the steering wheel. At speeds of more than 106mph, the suspension reverts to the standard height.

What's the performance like?

Thanks to the use of lightweight materials and the fact that thereís no back seat, the Dakar is only 10kg heavier than a 911 Carrera 4 GTS with the PDK gearbox, so performance hasnít been egregiously blunted. The 0-62mph time is still brisk at 3.9 seconds, though thanks to that suspension lift the top speed is now down to 149mph.

What about this Rally Design Package?

The Rally Design Package is an £18,434 optional extra which allows owners to spec their car in racing liveries and colour schemes inspired, among other things by the Paris-Dakar 953. Thereís the option, for instance, of a blue and white colourway with red and gold stripes, just like the Dakar-winner, though instead of the Rothmans tobacco logo, thereís now a decal reading ďRoughroadsĒ. Thereís the option too of starting numbers ranging from one to 999.

Isn't Lamborghini doing something similar?

Thatís right. In a couple of weeks, Lambo is set to unveil the Sterrato, a lifted, off-road-oriented version of its HuracŠn. Not a whole lot is known about it just yet (apart from the fact itíll be the last appearance in a new Lamborghini of the old naturally aspirated V10 engine), but judging from the teaser images and videos, thereíll be a suspension lift, plastic cladding, roof rack and rally-style spotlights up front.

Any word on pricing for this Porsche then?

Porsche has said itíll only built 2,500 examples of the Dakar, so itís set to be a relatively rare one. That said, with prices starting from £173,000, itís not totally out-of-kilter with the rest of the 911 range, and price-wise itís in the same ballpark as the 911 Turbo S and GT3 RS. The first UK deliveries are expected next spring.

David Mullen - 17 Nov 2022

2023 Porsche 911 Dakar. Image by Porsche.2023 Porsche 911 Dakar. Image by Porsche.2023 Porsche 911 Dakar. Image by Porsche.2023 Porsche 911 Dakar. Image by Porsche.2023 Porsche 911 Dakar. Image by Porsche.

2023 Porsche 911 Dakar. Image by Porsche.2023 Porsche 911 Dakar. Image by Porsche.2023 Porsche 911 Dakar. Image by Porsche.2023 Porsche 911 Dakar. Image by Porsche.2023 Porsche 911 Dakar. Image by Porsche.    - Porsche road tests
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