It’s not often that there’s a surprise in the Porsche 911 line up - by now, you know that a Carrera comes first, soon followed by a Turbo, GTS, GT3 and so on. But the 992 generation has already seen a few surprises, including the Heritage Design Edition Targa and 550hp Sport Classic. Now it’s time for arguably the most exciting one yet: here’s the 911 Dakar.
Built ostensibly to celebrate the first all-wheel drive 911 - the 953 that won the Paris Dakar in 1984 - and also, presumably, because it’s a really cool idea, the Dakar is described as demonstrating ‘the possibilities of the Porsche 911 concept’. It’s powered by the GTS version of the 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat six, meaning 480hp and 420lb ft. With the eight-speed PDK and four-wheel drive standard, a 911 Dakar will reach 62mph in just 3.5 seconds - top speed is 149mph, because of the Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus tyres. There are conventional P Zero summer and winter tyres available, both with the two carcass plies of the all terrains to improve cut resistance, but come on, it’s a 911 Dakar - you have to have the chunky tyres.
Not least because it looks brilliant on them, ride height raised by 50mm over a Carrera S and with a four-corner lift that can jack it up another 30mm. Porsche says this offers ‘ground clearance and ramp angles which rival those of more conventional off-road vehicles’, which ought to make for an interesting video or two. And it’s not merely for rock-crawling, either, as the Dakar can run in its ‘high level’ mode at up to 106mph for the full rally raid experience. New drive modes on the steering wheel rotary switch help to make the most of its extra ability. Rally mode - in a 911! - aims to work best on loose surfaces with rear-biased all-wheel drive. There’s also an Offroad mode for ‘high-clearance driving’. Both feature Rally Launch Control, which allows wheel slip of up to 20 per cent for the best getaway on gravel or similar.
The Dakar cherry picks some of the best bits from the 911 range for what promises to be an awesome driving experience. It has the rear-wheel steer and dynamic engine mounts from the GT3 as standard, as well as Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control anti-roll. Note as well a rear spoiler of carbon reinforced plastic, a bonnet made of the same (borrowed direct from the GT3, too) plus a two-seat cabin for the full rally car vibe. With the bucket seats, lighter glass and a slimline battery, the Dakar is only 10kg heavier than a PDK equipped C4 GTS - DIN kerbweight (without a driver) is 1,605kg. More interestingly, Porsche reckons that the new 911 will be ‘just as capable on sand and gravel as it is on the Nordschleife’, even if the roof rack is loaded with up to 42kg of fuel, water canisters, traction boards, the optionally available tent, and shovels. Just when it seemed like everything had done a tourist day lap, along comes the Dakar.
The green car seen here is painted Shade Green, a new colour that’ll be exclusive to the Dakar. But that’s unlikely to be the focus from launch, however good it looks, because Dakar customers will also be offered a Rally Design Package for £18k. Intended to evoke the iconic Rothmans 953, it combines white and Gentian Blue paint with red and gold decorative stripes, plus the customer’s choice of a number between 1 and 999 on the door. ‘Roughroads’ is now a registered trademark, says Porsche, one which ‘reflects the concept of the 911 Dakar’. But perhaps doesn’t work quite as well in reality as it did in the meeting. Shade Green for us, please, with the tent.
Best move fast if you’re keen, as there’ll be just 2,500 Dakars available globally. In the UK, it’s going to cost £173,000, making it more expensive than even a 911 Turbo S - and just £5k less than an RS. However, as a non-GT product, we’d have to assume obtaining a build slot might be easier than for a GT3. Let’s find out - the Dakar can be ordered now, and deliveries are due in the spring…
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