This is the Porsche 911 Dakar

It’s not often there’s a surprise in the Porsche 911 range – now you know a Carrera comes first, soon followed by a Turbo, GTS, GT3 and so on. But the 992 generation has already reserved some surprises, including the Heritage Design Edition Targa and 550hp Sport Classic. Now is the time for arguably the most exciting yet: here’s the 911 Dakar.

Ostensibly built 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 is powered by the GTS version of the 3.0-liter twin-turbo flat-six, which means 480 hp and 420 lb-ft. With the eight-speed PDK and standard four-wheel drive, a 911 Dakar will hit 62mph in just 3.5 seconds – top speed is 149mph, due to the Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus tyres. There are conventional P Zero summer and winter tires, both with the two all-terrain carcass plies to improve cut resistance, but hey, it’s a 911 Dakar – you gotta have the fat tires .

Not least because it looks brilliant on them, the ride height increased by 50mm over a Carrera S and with a four-corner lift that can raise it an additional 30mm. Porsche says it offers “ground clearance and ramp angles that rival those of more conventional off-road vehicles,” which should make for an interesting video or two. And it’s not just for rock crawling either, as the Dakar can run in its “high level” mode at up to 106 mph for the full rally raid experience. New driving modes on the rotary switch on the steering wheel help make the most of its added capabilities. Rally mode – in a 911! – aims to work best on loose surfaces with rear-facing all-wheel drive. There is also an Offroad mode for ‘high clearance driving’. Both feature Rally Launch Control, which allows up to 20% wheel spin for the best gravel or similar jaunt.

The Dakar Cherry selects some of the best bits from the 911 lineup for what promises to be an incredible driving experience. It has rear wheel steering and dynamic engine mounts from the GT3 standard, as well as Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control anti-roll. Also note a carbon-reinforced plastic rear spoiler, carbon-reinforced plastic bonnet (borrowed directly from the GT3, too) and a two-seater cabin for a complete rally car vibe. With bucket seats, lighter glass and a slimmer battery, the Dakar weighs just 10kg more than a PDK-equipped C4 GTS – DIN curb weight (without driver) is 1,605kg. More interestingly, Porsche estimates that the new 911 will be “just as capable on sand and gravel as it is on the Nordschleife”, even though the roof rack contains up to 42 kg of fuel, water canisters, traction, the tent available as an option, and shovels. Just when it seemed like everything had made a day’s sightseeing ride, comes the Dakar.

The green car seen here is painted in Shade Green, a new color that will be exclusive to the Dakar. But that’s unlikely to be the aim of the launch, beautiful as it is, as Dakar customers will also be offered a Rally Design package for Β£18,000. Meant to evoke the iconic Rothmans 953, it combines white and gentian blue paintwork with decorative red and gold stripes, as well as a customer’s choice of a number between 1 and 999 on the door. “Roughroads” is now a registered trademark, according to Porsche, which “reflects the concept of the 911 Dakar”. But it might not work as well in real life as it did in the meeting. Shade Green for us please with the tent.

Better to go fast if you want, because there will only be 2,500 Dakar available worldwide. In the UK it’ll cost Β£173,000, making it more expensive than a 911 Turbo S – and only Β£5,000 less than an RS. However, as a non-GT product, we should assume that getting a build slot might be easier than for a GT3. Let’s find out, the Dakar can be ordered now, and deliveries are expected in the spring…

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