Porsche 911 Dakar
This year Porsche launched their roughest and toughest 911 ever: the Dakar. Inspired by the 1984 Paris-Dakar overall win and just in time for the iconic brand’s 75th birthday.
It’s Stuttgart’s first two-door, four-wheel drive off-road production vehicle. I did some exhilarating sand-surfing in this fascinating vehicle, in the Moroccan Sahara desert during the launch. And drove it again, together with it’s grand-daddy during the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK.
Just in time for the 75th birthday of the iconic sportscar maker from Stuttgart, Porsche presented their wildest 911 ever. The Dakar. Inspired by the first overall victory of a 911 in the 1984 Paris-Dakar Rally, which was the birth of four-wheel drive in the 911. The four-wheel drive Dakar is Porsche’s first two-door off-roader.
The Dakar doesn’t just look like a raised 911, it has its own impressive presence and stance. The wheel wells are widened. Front, rear and side sills are protected by stainless steel. The light carbon rear spoiler pays homage to the 1984 historic original. But the Dakar-specific Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus tyres (sized 245/45ZR19 in front & 295/40ZR20 in the rear) are the most noticeable change to a regular 911. The chunky tread pattern is 9mm deep, there are two carcass plies and the highly cut-resistant flanks are reinforced. Pirelli P Zero summer (and winter) tyres are optional.
You obviously had the option of making your 911 Dakar even more adventure-ready: with all the available Porsche equipment. Starting with the roof rack on the Ice Grey Metallic version of the Dakar. The robust roof basket with auxiliary LED head lights, powered by a visible 12V roof socket, can hold a 10-l. petrol reserve canister and a 12-l. water container. The pull-out spades with Porsche logo and the grey recovery boards come handy in case you get stuck in the sand. Or you can fit the practical and good-looking Porsche roof tent. It features two side windows and a sky view skylight, perfect for watching starry nights. After a good sleep the tent disappears in an exclusive black or dark grey hardshell case. Seating area in the cosy roof house is 210x130cm.
Let’s slide into those bucket seats. The rear ones were replaced by a roll-cage. As soon as the car is in motion, all hell breaks loose. The engine is the same 3.0-l. boxer powerplant with 353kW as in the GTS, so is the glorious sound emitting from the black end pipes. And from 0 to 100km/h the off-roader is only 0.1 seconds ‘slower’ than the regular street GTS.
So let’s leave the tarmac behind to see what happens. Inside the cockpit it feels 100% 911, while outside the gravel is spraying in all directions, clicking against the underride protection. The suspension of Porsche’s first ever two-door, two-seater 4x4 is 50mm higher than in the 911 Carrera with sports suspension, resulting in a SUV-common ground clearance of 191mm. The wheelbase is much shorter as in the Cayenne, enabling great approach and departure angles.
Two new driving modes, previously never seen in a 911 before, allow maximum off-road performance. ‘Rallye’ for loose, bumpy terrain, ideal for gravel roads, wet grass and muddy tracks. The focus in this mode is on traction in the rear, allowing glorious drifts. While sand-surfing in the dunes the driving mode of choice is ‘Offroad’, with optimal traction. We lower the tyre pressure to 1.5bar and hit the sand. I can’t fathom the fact, that I am doing all this in a 911 sportscar. Phenomenal.
Unfortunately Porsche only produced a limited run of 2500 911 Dakar units. And they were sold out immediately. Used ones are already fetching fantasy prices.
As mentioned before the concept of the tall 911 is inspired by the first overall victory of the iconic Porsche sportscar in the gruelling, legendary Paris-Dakar Rally. In 1984 a Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2-l. (953) 4x4 took the honours and the new 911 Dakar pays homage to this particular car.
And I was lucky enough to pilot the original museum’s piece in the UK. It is a handful to drive and I admire those Dakar winners even more now. When customers chose the Rallye Design Package, their 911 Dakar was, for the first time in Porsche’s series production, featuring a bi-colour paint job and decorative foiling. But due to the fact, that tobacco advertising is banned, the former Rothman’s logo is replaced by the similar looking Roughroads lettering. Any number between 0 and 999 can be selected for the race numbers on the doors. Guess what will be the most desirable three-digit number for the Dakar?
If you prefer the East African Safari rally heritage of 1971, 1974 and 1978 your Dakar can be foiled accordingly. Or you can choose the unique colours oak green metallic or ice grey metallic. The options are many-sided.
This is without a doubt the most African 911 ever made. I still remember the clips, photos and posters of my youth, where modified 911s were battling across the Sahara, in West- and East Africa. In the aftermath tuners took regular 911s and turned them into individualized Safari rally cars for customers. The tall 911 is proof, that there are no limits to the concept of the 911. It works superfast on racetracks, with the 911 GT3 RS and offroad with the 911 Dakar.
I only hope that some of them will be used, as they were meant to be. Not just ending up in precious collections.
Porsche 911 Dakar
3.7-l. six-cylinder turbo, paired with an 8-speed auto PDK
3.0-l. 6 cyl. boxer, paired with an 8-speed PDK auto
353kW/480hp & 570Nm
240km/h (limited due to off-road tyres)/ 170km/h on gravel
from R4 250 000 (limited edition of 2500 units worldwide is sold out)
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