This week Porsche officially confirmed that, unlike the volcano-explorer off-road sports car, the Porsche 911 Dakar 911 will be available to the paying public, promising a complete unveiling at the LA Auto Show this month. Having driven many of Porsche's products myself, I have no doubt that this new off-road optimized version of the gold-standard sports car will deliver on its promise of multi-terrain performance, instantly making it extremely effing cool. And based on current trends in car culture, I bet these will be big sellers among big spenders.
We don't have much concrete detail on Porsche 911 Dakar-specific features or specs yet, but I'll run down the important info that was shared by the automaker:
Porsche 911 Dakar Confirmed Details
- Official reveal: 7:00 p.m. Pacific, Nov. 16, 2022 at the Los Angeles Auto Show
- Confirmed unique features:
- Higher ground clearance over other 911 models
- ABS optimized for braking on gravel
- (More to come there, assuredly)
- Development testing program:
- 300,000 miles in "extreme conditions," 6,000 miles "off-road"
- Château de Lastours test track in southern France for testing on a "typical rally course"
- Arjeplog frozen lake region in Sweden for testing on closed compacted snow
- Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Morocco in North Africa for testing on sand dunes in extreme heat conditions.
As an off-road enthusiast, I don't feel like 6,000 miles of off-road testing seems like all that much (it's just three Baja trips from Los Angeles to Cabo, right?) but as I said: I have no trouble trusting Porsche to develop a highly capable performance vehicle. And really, the type of off-roading that lifted sports cars like best tends to be more like the gravel and rally-type terrain you might find at Château de Lastours (or many American backroads) rather than rock-crawling or deep sand situations.
Rumors and spy shots of lifted 911s going through testing have been floating around for years. Meanwhile, "safari style" treatments on older Porsche 911s (and many other cars, really) have been braaaping themselves into car culture in a big way since about the mid-2010s. Typically, the safarification process involves putting knobby tires, roof racks, auxiliary lighting, and maybe a little lift onto a sporty car to make them better suited for rough roads and detours over fields and dunes. You know, like, the way you drive in Forza Horizon.
All that to say, I wouldn't call the Porsche 911 Dakar announcement a "surprise" per se but it should be exciting to fans of automotive engineering. Even with a six-figure list price (official MSRP is TBA, but I hypothesize these will go for over $140,000), building a car that's quick and comfortable and decent off-road is no small feat.
"Dakar" is a fitting name for an off-roady Porsche, since the automaker campaigned cars in the famous international Paris-Dakar Rally back in the 1980s, and the cars are still celebrated today. That race historically ran from the capital of France to the capital of Senegal, hence the name, but now moves around the world. It's still called "The Dakar" despite not having actually returned to Senegal in quite some time. But after many years in South America, it's been a lot closer (Saudi Arabia) more recently. Americans Amy Lerner and Sara Bossaert competed in the event in 2021 in an '82 Porsche 911 SC, which you can read more about here to deepen your Dakar/Porsche appreciation.
For those of us who can't afford Porsches, reading about how awesome they are can get a little annoying. But it remains true: pretty much every piece of hardware that the German automaker sends down its assembly lines is hot fire. The Porsche 911 Dakar is going to be ice-cold cool and an absolute riot to drive on an unpaved piece of road.