The 911 stands on stilts and revives a glorious period for Porsche in rally-raid. With this exclusive Dakar version, the sports car from Zuffenhausen offers a unique proposition on the market. Or almost.
It will be nice to be indignant constantly, but a Porsche, today, is sold mainly in the SUV format. Take the Macan. Despite its advanced age, it remains particularly popular, and sells more than the 911, Boxster and Cayman combined! Is this really the raison d’être of this new 911 Dakar? Not really. Firstly because the beautiful adventurer will remain a limited edition of 2500 copies. Then because it is not practical with its rear folding seats removed and its beautiful optional roll bar. We will just be able to recognize its remarkable off-road capacities. One of the in-house engineers in charge of the project even believes that it becomes the best adventurer in the range. Its ground clearance is already 50 mm higher than a classic 911 with the sports chassis. You can aim even higher with a hydraulic lift system that raises the trim by an additional 30 mm to provide ground clearance of 19 cm. A position that the 911 Dakar can maintain up to 170 km/h. The approach and departure angles are comparable to those of a Cayenne, but the shorter wheelbase provides better ridge crossing ability.
Our first meeting with the 911 Dakar is organized in Zell am See, the birthplace of the Porsche dynasty. And our journey will take us to Muhr, in the heart of the Austrian Alps for an ice dancing session. Not enough to undermine the crossing faculties of this Dakar, which we would have preferred to meet in a context a little more arid and dusty. It must be said that the image of a high-legged 911 was above all popularized in rally-raid, and in particular thanks to a superb victory in Paris-Dakar in 1984. Too bad. On board our Dakar Vert Ombre flanked by black rims and a roof rack for stowing shovels, jerrycans and other sand removal plates, the atmosphere is not so good for adventure. The GT3 spirit is not very far away with the optional carbon bucket seats, the roll bar and the omnipresence of Alcantara. No clearer configuration for this Dakar, which is above all designed for the excursion. But adventurers ready to pay the price will not refuse a minimum of comfort with a Burmester sound system and a whole host of driving aids. You have to start this Dakar and cover only a few meters to realize the more “mechanical” atmosphere that reigns on board. For this, the developers had the simple but effective idea of forgetting a few kilos of soundproofing and refining the glazing. As a result, this Dakar will fill your ears with it. Between the rattle of the flat-six, the crackling of the exhaust line and the rain of gravel in the wheel arches, the soundtrack, just on the road, is worth the detour.
Under his dress, we find the mechanics of a GTS version. A variation of the house block 3.0 which here develops 480 hp and 570 Nm of torque. As standard, this Dakar is based on generous Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus rubber. Tires “studs” in the jargon, developed for this Dakar and promised ultra-resistant. Their main effect will be to limit the maximum speed to 240 km/h. But whatever. We are fitted with snow tyres, the performance of this 911 is elsewhere. The 911 Dakar receives a specific tuning of all the electronic systems energizing the chassis. The variable-adjustment suspension is firmed up by 50% in the high position and the revised active anti-roll bars cancel out the effects of a raised center of gravity. This Dakar also receives two new driving modes on a 911. The first, Rallye, favors a transfer of torque to the rear. A more “fun” mode as the project developers like to remind you. The second, Off Road, automatically raises the plate and distributes the torque in an optimal way to evolve on more uneven ground. Note that the high position can be selected with all driving modes, including Sport. For our frosty test, the Rally mode is obviously appropriate. The PSM (Porsche Stability Management) in Sport position to begin with, just to become familiar with the balance and the excellent health of the flat-six. Our coach is none other than Walter Röhrl, sacred monster of the world rally and eminent figurehead for the Porsche brand. First impression, the phenomenal grip of the winter tires offered for this 911 Dakar. However, our circuit gradually got rid of a thin layer of snow to give way to a very smooth ice rink. Despite everything, the accelerations past third gear are stunning and the directional power of the front axle is still present. The pitch is non-existent and the balance of a 911, preserved. A Lamborghini Huracan will know how to pivot better in front of a Porsche which always tends to “swing its backpack” weighed down by an engine positioned far behind. We can always count on this direction which operates a clever mix between precision and directivity and a very little marked inertia for a supercharged engine. Convenient for this kind of exercise, and quite exhilarating.
Still, a 911 Dakar is best enjoyed on rougher trails. The opportunity for a next meeting? And it is legitimate to wonder about the interest of such a model which, limited in production, risks falling under the yoke of speculation. You still have to be able to sign the first check. Displayed at more than 226,000 euros, this 911 “off road” claims 70,000 euros more than a GTS and comes dangerously close to a Turbo S with amazing performance. We could be cynical and say that “the centimeters gained are expensive”. But this 911 Dakar has the merit of offering an original configuration inspired by the history of Porsche in competition. This is not the case of a certain Lamborghini Huracàn Sterrato which is revealed, surprisingly the same year, in a similar form. And yes, we really want to organize a one-on-one with them.