We won't have to wait long to see Porsche's first production Safari 911, tipped to be called the 911 Dakar.
Icons of Porsche will return to Dubai this year, but don't worry if you've never heard about it. It's a regional event where owners of modified Porsches take their cars on a safari-themed journey celebrating Porsche's rallying heritage.
The most crucial information is that an all-new Porsche will make its regional debut at this festival. According to the press release, "the new model is well-positioned to become another icon amongst the adventure-driven Porsche communities of the Middle East and beyond."
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Porsche is talking about the all-new 911 Safari, now widely believed to be called the 911 Dakar. If the Dakar is making its regional debut in Dubai in November, that must mean its global debut has to happen before that. It won't be long now.
There has been some misunderstanding as to why Safari 911s exist. It's not a modern trend, and there is historical significance. Porsche may be best known for its circuit racing exploits, but it also has a legacy off the blacktop.
The 911 Dakar is named after the 1984 911 Paris-Dakar (also known as the 953 or the 911 4x4), driven by Rene Metge. It won the infamous Dakar Rally back in the day when it was an endurance rally raid that stretched all the way from Paris, France, to Dakar in Senegal. The 953 was the first AWD 911, which is now standard fitment on the fierce 911 Turbo unless you opt for the very special 911 Sport Classic.
There's also the 1981 924 Carrera GTS, which Walter Rohrl used in the German Rally Championship. He won four out of seven rallies and laid the foundation for Porsche wanting to enter the Dakar Rally in the first place. Without this car, the 953 Dakar winner would not exist. It also paved the way for the Porsche 959's Paris-Dakar win in 1986 and one of the most advanced supercars ever.
These two cars merely scratch the surface of Porsche's rally raid exploits, but don't take our word for it. In the video below, you can watch Walter Rohrl talk you through the top five Porsche rally cars. It shows just how tough these cars were and possibly in which direction Porsche might go with the new 911 Dakar.
We've seen several spy shots of the 911 Dakar, and one thing is obvious. Porsche wanted to build a stable car on gnarly surfaces while retaining most of the 911's positive handling characteristics. There will be some compromise, however. You can't lift a car a few inches and not impact the center of gravity. That said, if one manufacturer can find some magical way around the problem, it's Porsche. We've seen the car go around the Green Hell, and it looks surefooted.
We also know it will have AWD as standard. The older rally cars had to make do with rear-wheel-drive because the technology did not exist, but nowadays, not having a 911 4S in the range would be considered odd.
We also don't think it will be too powerful. The standard Porsche 911 Carrera S' 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged flat-six engine has enough power for sideways action. A model-specific suspension setup and Off-Road (or Dakar) driving mode are a given.
Given the previously mentioned timeline, all will be revealed shortly.