Porsche is taking the iconic 911 off-road for the new year.
What do you do when the world is in love with crossovers but your brand is most famous for its sports cars? Well, for Porsche, which already has the Macan and Cayenne as genuine family cars, you take your most iconic sports car and turn it into an off-roader. That's the ethos behind the Porsche 911 Dakar, an off-road sports car for the well-heeled that pays homage to decades of off-road rally racing and gives you a true go-anywhere speed machine without compromise.
Built on the bones of the 992-generation sports car, the new Porsche 911 Dakar coupe will be the highest celebration of the 1984 Paris-Dakar Rally-winning 911 that led to the development of the 959 supercar. The concept might be one close to Porsche's history and relatively unique in concept, but the 911 Dakar won't have the playing field all to itself, as similar Porsche-shaped rivals are available from Marc Philipp Gemballa and Singer, while Lamborghini will also shortly enter this space with the Huracan Sterrato. Ferrari's own Purosangue could also be considered a similar all-purpose supercar.
Slated for a reveal at the 2022 La Auto Show on November 16, the 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar's release date in the USA will likely be around the middle of 2023.
Porsche hasn't yet told us what the price of the 911 Dakar would be, but you can bet it won't come cheap. This will likely be a limited-run sports car in a similar fashion to the 911 GT3. That car starts at $169,700 while a 911 Turbo starts at $182,900 - expect an MSRP in this ballpark for the all-terrain 911 derivative.
Before you even get behind the wheel, the exterior of the Porsche 911 Dakar tells you this is no ordinary sports car. A lifted suspension setup gives it a ride height unlike any other 911, while the wheels - smaller than the standard 911's 19-inch and larger items - are shod in chunky all-terrain tires. We expect various designs of the wheels to feature. Widened fender flares feature black cladding on the leading edges to protect the paintwork and give it an aggressive stance, while the rear showcases twin round tailpipes similar to those on the 911 GTS. The rear spoiler will be active, although early prototypes have shown off two different styles of spoiler - a possible factory option to tailor the design to your whims. Under the body, skid plates will protect the car when off the beaten track. LED head- and taillights will feature as well, likely differing little from other 911 derivatives.
As far as customization goes, expect the colors of the Porsche 911 Dakar to be more vast in number than you can think of, with full access to the Paint to Sample palette as well. We expect further customization to be available, not only in terms of wheel designs but also accessories, as early prototypes featured roof baskets that will probably be outfitted with camping setups or swappable for roof racks for snowboarders and other extreme sports enthusiasts.
The dimensions of the 2023 911 Dakar will be larger than almost any other 911. Based on the coupe, the raised ride height will elevate it above the 52.1 inches that the 911 GT3 RS stands with its gargantuan wing. It will also be wide, likely matching or possibly even exceeding the GT3 RS's width of 79.8 inches with the mirrors. The wheelbase is expected to carry over at 96.5 inches, but the bodywork over the top could be longer than the standard circa-180-inch length of most 911 models. Curb weight remains the biggest mystery, however, as the extra suspension componentry and all-wheel drive will likely push the weight of the 911 Dakar to over 3,700 pounds.
The ground clearance will far exceed the 4.5 inches of the regular models, as will the approach, departure, and breakover angles, which are currently eight, 13.4, and 11.7 degrees, respectively, on the 911 Carrera 4 GTS.
Let's start with what we know for certain - the Porsche 911 Dakar's engine will be mounted behind the rear axle and will have six cylinders. But beyond that, little is known about it. We suspect the 911 GTS will serve as the engine donor, which would mean a 3.0-liter twin-turbo flat-six developing 473 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. However, Porsche could go all the way and offer a Turbo-badged variant with as much as 640 hp if it goes full-lunatic. 0-60 mph should be dispatched in under 4.5 seconds with the GTS powertrain and as low as 3.5 seconds with a Turbo-badged powertrain. The top speed will likely be limited by the tires, but expect at least 170 mph.
All-wheel drive will be standard, as will a Porsche PDK dual-clutch transmission - likely with eight forward gears. The latter will be specifically tuned for off-roading and may get a unique drive mode or two for loose sand, snow, and gravel. The adaptive suspension is expected to borrow some functionality from the GT3 RS - tuned for purpose, of course - and will be beefed up to accommodate the shock of jumps and other off-road activities you might get up to on rocky and loose surfaces.
Don't expect the 911 Dakar to be light on gas. Before even considering the effect of the off-road suspension, tires, and aero, the 911 Carrera 4 GTS we expect to donate its powertrain already consumes premium fuel at a rate of 17/23/19 mpg city/highway/combined. With all the new hardware equipped, those figures will likely dip.
While lacking the practicality of a Cayenne, the Porsche 911 Dakar's interior will still be suitable for four people - although only children will find the rear comfortable. Should Porsche avail a roll cage (which won't be US legal), seating will drop to just two occupants. Expect a range of high-quality finishes that will likely be more durable to account for the Dakar's adventure-ready persona, but knowing Porsche, also expect a full range of customization extending to the tiniest of details that can be had in the color of your choice. The seats of the Porsche 911 Dakar will be of particular interest, as the buckets up front will need to provide more support than the standard items, not just from a lateral perspective but in terms of preventing the occupants from developing terrible backache over rougher terrain.
Cargo space will be another area where the 911 Dakar won't win any prizes but will still be semi-useful. A standard 911 has 4.6 cubic feet of frunk space, which should not be impacted here.