The folks at Porsche have yet again conjured up another delectable 911 recipe and this time, it’s plain bonkers but also immensely desirable. We saw the 911 GT3 RS with its dinner table-esque rear wing but this time, the 911 wants to go rallying as it has done in the past. Gravel, sand, and snow are the natural habitats of the newest iteration of the 911 and not some racetrack. Aptly named the 911 Dakar, as a nod to Porsche’s first rally victory at the Paris-Dakar rally, the agenda here has been to take the familiar 911 traits and mix them with some newfound off-road genes. Porsche knows all-wheel-drive and off-roading but within the 911 spectrum this has been a rather interesting turn of events that we like.
In typical Porsche fashion, test mules of this new jacked-up 911 have been through a gruelling testing regime spanning more than half a million km, including more than 10,000 km off-road. The Château de Lastours test track in southern France, for example, was used to test the car’s handling on typical rally courses and fine-tune the suspension. Porsche works driver Romain Dumas put the 911 Dakar through its paces here and was blown away saying “I knew what a 911 could do on the road, but I was absolutely stunned by how well the car performed here on the loose.”
With increased ground clearance, all-terrain tyres and a more robust chassis, big jumps also were not a problem with the 911 Dakar coping with it all. Then it was the testing grounds in Arjeplog, Sweden where it was tested by two-time world rally champion Walter Röhrl who said that “The car is incredibly fun to drive. Everything works so precisely and calmly. No Porsche customer will believe all the things you can do with this car before they have driven it themselves.”
The final testing ground was the sand dunes of Morocco and Dubai where test drivers mercilessly drove the off-road sports car up steep, 50-metre dunes in temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius time and time again.
“The 911 Dakar delivered a commanding performance even in the desert,” says Frank Moser, Vice President Model Line 911/718. “Especially here, the 911 Dakar can make the most of its conceptual advantages – the combination of low weight, higher ground clearance, a powerful rear-mounted engine and the short wheelbase make for an exhilarating driving experience. I was able to experience it myself on test drives in the Sahara.”
No technical details have been revealed but suffice to say that the turbocharged flat-six engine would be massaged for more low-end punch for off-road conditions while an 8-speed PDK gearbox would be standard along with all-wheel-drive obviously. We’ll know more about the 911 Dakar at its unveiling in a few days’ time at the LA Auto Show. Stay tuned.