Porsche 911 Dakar honors rich off-road history

Mason Bloom

Apparently it’s no longer enough for Porsche 911s to dominate on the asphalt. The iconic German automaker recently modified its flagship to scale a volcano and has now unveiled the 911 Dakar. It’s a multi-purpose sports car said to be “equally at home on loose surfaces as it does on country roads.”

No automaker is prouder of its heritage than Porsche; the 911 Dakar is a nod to the company’s off-road racing. The 911 Dakar car pays homage to Porsche’s successful line of Paris-Dakar race cars in the 1980s, but wasn’t developed to race off road. Rather, the 2,500 911 Dakars produced are designed for a less intense off-road experience, albeit powerful and expensive.

The new Porsche 911 Dakar pays homage to the 1984 Paris Dakar-winning Porsche 953.
The new Porsche 911 Dakar pays homage to the 1984 Paris Dakar-winning Porsche 953. All image credits: Porsche

Porsche has based the $223,000 911 Dakar on the 473-horsepower 911 Carrera 4GTS not without modifications.

The vehicle’s suspension has been raised by two inches with an additional 1.2 inches available through a special lift kit for peak ground clearance. That extra 1.2 inches is available at speeds up to 105 miles per hour. This means it could theoretically (and ludicrously) be driven with a total of 7.5 inches of ground clearance off road at over 100 mph. Such figures are possible through a Porsche-Pirelli partnership that produced specifically-designed, chunky off-road tires equipped for the 911 Dakar.

Underbody protection, stainless steel skit plates, and side protection have also been applied to save the mechanics from being torn apart on harsh trails.

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Porsche offers the 911 Dakar in the Rothmans livery worn on the 1984-winning 953 model. All but the original Rothmans name itself stays true to the famous 953; the defunct cigarette company’s branding has been changed to read “Roughroads.” The timeless two-tone white and blue color way separated by a red and gold stripe is nearly identical of that of past rally models.

Those wishing to pass on the flashy, optional livery will have a vehicle whose design elements remain true to the Carrera 4GTS with some exceptions. Say goodbye to the back seats and thick glass as the rear seating is stripped and lightweight glass is used instead.

The carbon fiber hood was sourced from the track-focused GT3 and the brakes stolen from the Carrera S. And the top-notch cooling system? That’s off of the $200k Turbo S. A 911 Dakar-specific wing has been mounted in place rather than the active rear spoiler on other 911 models.

Adding high performance parts allowed Porsche to keep the weight to a minimum. Just 16 pounds were added in relation to the stock Carrera 4GTS the 911 Dakar is based on and its 0-60mph sprint clocks in at 3.2 seconds.

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It’s clear performance doesn’t lack. The 3.0 liter, twin turbocharged flat six derived from the Carrera 4GTS produces 473 horsepower and 420 pounds/feet of torque good for a limited top speed of 150 miles per hour. An eight-speed, dual clutch PDK for ultra-fast shifts comes stock in addition to Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) system. The latter reduces body roll for optimal track and trail use.

Rally and Off Road join the existing drive modes to bias power and torque from axle to axle. Rally Launch Control is another 911 Dakar-specific feature that gives the driver the most balanced launches on subpar surfaces.

Porsche kept the inside largely untouched compared to the brash exterior styling. Race Tex, Porsche’s branded microfiber, upholsters a vast majority of the material for a tighter feel in relation to more slippery leather. A limited edition plaque rests on the dashboard reminding owners why they’ve spent almost a quarter million dollars on this Porsche. Branding exclusive to the 911 Dakar extends to the model name embossed on the door sills and written on the gauge cluster during startup.

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Off roading and track enthusiasts alike will have to fork over $223,450 for a 911 Dakar. Pricey indeed but considering how limited the vehicle is, Porsche shouldn’t have to struggle to sell the inventory.

For more on the 911 Dakar, click here.

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