Here's everything you need to know about the coolest 911 of 2022.
The 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar has officially made its debut, and if it weren't for the earlier launch of the 911 GT3 RS, it would be right at the top of our list of Porsches we'd be willing to sell a kidney for. The author's contact details are below if you are in the market.
The off-road 911's name refers to the infamous Paris-Dakar Rally, which Porsche won in 1984 when competitors had to worry about terrorism as much as tire-shredding rocks hidden in the deep sand. Porsche won that Dakar in a 1984 911 RS/SC 4x4. It was the first time an all-wheel-drive system had been used in a 911. These days we can't imagine the 911 range without the Carrera 4S. Not to mention the 911 Turbo and Turbo S, which only lost their widowmaker status once Porsche made AWD standard.
But enough about the history. Let's flesh out those highlights at the page's top.
Here are the basics: it's powered by the well-known 3.0-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder Boxer engine, and in this application, it produces 473 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque and is mated to Porsche's eight-speed PDK transmission.
The flat-six in this produces 30 hp and 23 lb-ft more than a Carrera S. This may sound familiar to the Porschephiles, and there's a good reason for that. It's the same powertrain used in the 911 GTS, and you pay no penalties in terms of straight-line performance. Well, almost.
A Carrera 4 GTS Coupe with the PDK can hit 60 in 3.1 seconds, and the Dakar does it in 3.2 seconds. If you say you can feel that difference, you're lying. The Dakar's top speed is capped at 150 mph due to the all-terrain tires.
How is this even possible? Well, after going on a strict Porsche GT3-like diet, the Dakar weighs just 3,552 pounds. That's a mere 16 lbs more than a 911 Carrera 4 GTS with PDK. If you can feel that difference, you're also lying.
Now for all the bits that are Dakar-specific. The most noticeable difference is the increased ride height. It sits roughly two inches higher than a 911 Carrera with 6.3 inches of ground clearance. A standard lift system is included, and it can lift the car by an additional 1.2 inches with 7.5 inches of clearance. Porsche says this gives the Dakar a ride height and ramp-over angles similar to conventional SUVs.
The lift system is integral to the recalibrated suspension. The High-Level setting, which is the full 7.5 inches, is available up to 105 mph for "spirited off-road driving." Roughly translated from marketing, it means hooning like a boss on a gravel road.
The tires aren't just there to keep up appearances. They're specially developed Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus tires, measuring 245/45 ZR 19 in front and 295/40 ZR 20 at the rear. The tread depth is 0.35 inches, which is nothing special. But these tires also have reinforced sidewalls and dual carcasses, making them less susceptible to damage from annoying sharp rocks. A blowout is the last thing you want while hooning on gravel at 104 mph.
Summer performance tires and snow tires from the Pirelli P Zero tire family are optionally available, featuring the same additional protection.
The Dakar will ship standard with rear-axle steering, body roll-reducing Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), and engine mounts borrowed from the GT3. As we predicted, there are two new driving modes: Rallye and Off-Road. Both can be activated via a switch on the steering wheel.
In Off-Road mode, the highest ride level is automatically selected. This mode is ideal for dune surfing or driving slowly over harsh terrain.
But let's not beat around the bush. We're all here for Rallye Mode because going sideways for no particular reason other than fun is one of life's greatest pleasures. The Dakar is perfectly set up for this, as most of the power is sent to the rear axle.
Both model-specific driving modes also feature a new Rallye Launch Control mode. It allows up to 20% wheel spin during a hard launch for a quick getaway on a loose surface.
You'll have no trouble telling it apart from other 911s, not just because of the ride height. It has a fixed rear spoiler made of CFRP with large openings to extract air. The red front and rear tow hooks are made from forged aluminum, and the body elements on the front and rear fascia and side skirts are finished in genuine stainless steel.
The mesh grilles on the newly designed front fascia are also stainless steel. Obviously, it's pretty hard to miss the flared fender arches and rocker panels.
We're pretty surprised but also delighted to see how selfish the interior of the Dakar is. Porsche removed the rear seats to remove weight. What about the kids? Send them via plane to wherever you want to go or give them up for adoption.
Full bucket seats are standard, finished in Race-Tex upholstery. The decorative stitching is Shade Green, an exterior hue exclusive to this model. The roof of the 911 Dakar is equipped with a 12-volt socket for the headlights of the optional roof basket. It can hold up to 92 lbs of whatever you need for an overland trip. A roof tent is available as well.
If all of the above isn't special enough for you, Porsche also offers the optional Rallye Design Package inspired by the iconic winning car of 1984. Yup, you can have a Dakar with the actual Paris-Dakar livery. It comes with a two-tone paint finish consisting of Gentian Blue Metallic and White. You can even add your own racing number to the side.
Customers of the 911 Dakar can order an exclusive Porsche Design Chronograph or the Chronograph Dakar Rallye Design Edition. For the first time, the housing is made of light and scratch-resistant titanium carbide in the unlikely event you put the car on its roof.
Are there any downsides? Well, we were hoping the Dakar would be a permanent addition to the 911 range, but only 2,500 will be made globally. That means the car's value will increase immensely over time, so owners might be less inclined to use it in the intended way.
The Porsche 911 Dakar is expected to arrive in US dealers in Spring 2023, with a starting MSRP of $222,000, excluding $1,450 for delivery, processing, and handling.