- Porsche makes sports car history by launching its first publicly available rally car, the $223,450 911 Dakar.
- After extensive testing, Porsche has settled on a 3.0-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder boxer engine with 473 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque and an 8-speed PDK.
- True to rally form, an 80-mm suspension lifts the car, along with an optional roof rack and model-specific Pirelli Scorpion all-terrain tires.
Turbocharged flat-six power mounted in the rear and an off-road ready ride height is the configuration of dreams for rally geeks—and a configuration you can buy new in a matter of months. For the first time in the company’s history, Porsche will offer a rally-spec 911. Known as the Porsche 911 Dakar, a limited run of 2500 units will be produced for the 2023 model year, and no more after that, Porsche says. Set to arrive at US dealers next spring, prospective buyers can expect a steep MSRP of $223,450.
Using the boxer engine from the 992-generation 911 Carrera GTS, a 3.0-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder puts down 473 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds. Fed through an 8-speed PDK transmission, the car is top-speed limited to 150 mph not by gearing or power, but by its Pirelli Scorpion off-road rubber. Porsche has smartly used pieces from a number of its already popular models, such as the cooling system from a 911 Turbo S and the lightweight braking system from a Carrera S.
Chassis dynamics reign supreme in a rally car, and the 911 Dakar is no different. For optimal jumping opportunity, the Dakar is set 50 mm higher than the standard Carrera, with an additional 30-mm rise possible by a standard lift system. This is possible through elongated shocks, longer suspension links, and hydraulic spring seats that rise or fall depending on the setting. Porsche notes the car can be driven up to 105 mph in the lifted setup, though the car will automatically return to its normal ride height above that speed.
Rear-axle steering, engine mounts from a GT3, and the body roll-reducing Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) system add to this stability. Two new drive modes are also available with the Dakar, named Rallye and Off-Road modes. The rear-biased Rallye mode is tuned for gravel and other fine loose surfaces, while Off-Road mode is designed for the 911 equivalent of rock crawling, automatically lifting ride height and optimizing the traction control system for especially rough terrain. Porsche also designed a Rallye Launch Control for the model, with lenient traction control settings. All of this technology is possible through an AWD system that was borrowed from the Carrera 4s and then tuned to the liking of test drivers like Romain Dumas.
Functionality is important in a car that Porsche says you can daily drive. To that effect, an optional roof basket is available, with a capacity for 92 pounds of gear and a Porsche-sold roof tent. Gone are the days of keeping luggage in the frunk. Inside the car is a standard set of bucket seats up front and no seats in the rear. Porsche uses lightweight glass in the model, making the overall curb weight a spry 3352 pounds. The carbon-fiber hood is also borrowed from a GT3 and carbon kevlar underbody protection has been fitted to this effect.
Those looking for a true heritage car can option the limited edition Rallye Design Package, though pricing isn't available yet. Two-tone paint consisting of White and Gentian Blue Metallic celebrates the winning 1984 Porsche 953, complete with the blocky white wheels. It may not sound as raspy as the 953, nor shoot flames, but it gets the visuals right.
From a market standpoint, this will be the third most expensive 911, set just behind the 911 GT3 RS and tens of thousands less than a 911 Sport Classic. Being a 911 with a Carrera GTS powerplant means it competes with the likes of Aston Martin's Vantage, but the unique off-road specifications leave it in an unchallenged segment. Due to the price and low volume, it's likely these models will end up in the hands of Porsche collectors and notable drivers.
It does seem that Porsche has been listening to its customers and the aftermarket. CEO of Volkswagen Group and Porsche, Oliver Blume, said that by building the 911 Dakar, the company is making its customer's dreams come true. While these cars will inevitably go to a select few customers, the allure of a factory 911 safari car is powerful. Or as Frank Moser, Vice President of the 911 model line, said when asked if they consulted aftermarket 911 Safari builds, "Sure, we're all Porsche freaks."
If you got your hands on a Porsche 911 Dakar, where would you take it and what would you do with it? Please comment below.