Porsche will unveil the 911 Dakar, a hardcore off-road edition of its flagship coupé, next Wednesday (16 November) at the Los Angeles motor show.
As a tribute to Porsche’s victory in the 1984 Paris-Dakar rally, this spiritual successor to the 911 Safari was driven 500,000 kilometres on a range of terrains as part of its test programme – from snow and sand to ice and rock.
While Porsche hasn’t confirmed full drivetrain or modification specs yet, we suspect it will share the same highly-adaptable 443bhp flat-six as the Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, given that Porsche recently sent two off-road 911s up Ojos del Salado in Chile – the world’s highest volcano – with that engine.
The only confirmed change for the 911 Dakar over the standard car is an ABS system which has been optimised for work on loose surfaces, and a raised ride height which we speculate will be similar to the volcano-climbing cars.
Those cars were equipped with a raft of off-road enhancements including shorter gear ratios, 310mm-wide off-road wheels and tyres, raised suspension for 350mm of ground clearance, lightweight underbody protection, a specially adapted cooling system and roll cage – all of which would make sense on a similarly conceived production car.
As part of the test programme, the 911 Dakar was taken to the Château de Lastours test track in Southern France, a familiar proving ground for Dakar rally cars. Being familiar with the 911 already, Porsche works driver Romain Dumas said “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.”
The car’s behaviour on other loose surfaces, such as sand, was tested in Dubai and Morocco where it was repeatedly driven up steep dunes in 45-degree heat – delivering a “commanding performance”, according to Frank Moser, the vice president of the 911 and 718 model lines.