Merzouga, Morocco — Dawn in the Sahara Desert is the reason the phrase ‘deafeningly quiet’ exists. The breeze sounds like a loud whisper as the rising sun illuminates the cliffs and dunes. It is truly bliss. A peaceful accompaniment to wipe sleep from my eyes. But the desert stillness is shattered by sounds that are as familiar as they are out of place. It’s a jarring cold start on a flat six engine.
Hearing the engine roar of a Porsche 911 Dakar during the waking hours of the Sahara is as jarring as David Lee Roth yelling, “Morocco, are you ready to rock?!” There are absolutely no subtleties in this car. The sleeves are meant to shed dirt and shatter dunes. The 911 Dakar comes to life as soon as it hits the sand. And holy Molly, can this be ripped.
Hurry up and back up. In 1984 Porsche won the Paris-Dakar Rally with his first all-wheel drive 911 race car. The new 911 Dakar pays tribute to this primarily through one of his optional Rally Design packages, which is meant to look like his iconic ’84 Rothmans livery (bottom left). increase. Yes, the text says “Roughroads,” which is honestly lame, but the automaker doesn’t do cigarette company sponsorships. A martini wrap is my style (bottom right).
The decades that followed saw a slew of rally-ready Safari 911 upfits, including one-off customs by renowned tuners such as Ruf and Singer. So while you might think Porsche jumped the shark by offering his own 911 Dakar, I promise you this is legal. Based on the Carrera 4 GTS, the Dakar in standard configuration he has 2 inches of additional ground clearance, and in high mode he can increase the ride height by another 1.2 inches, bringing the maximum ride height to his 7.5 inches. This adjustability is also not achieved by air suspension. Porsche has modified the 911’s optional front-end hydraulic lift system and mounted it on the rear axle. By the way, he said one of the reasons the 911 Dakar has no rear seats is the extra space needed for the hydraulic setup.
The backseat-less approach also saves weight. The 911 Dakar weighs him 3,552 pounds, just 16 pounds heavier than the Carrera 4 GTS (with automatic transmission). Considering all the Dakar add-ons, this is pretty impressive. But Porsche also added his GT3’s carbon fiber bonnet (ugly nostrils and all) to the off-roader, as well as lightweight materials on the roof and rear his wings to shed the added weight.
Importantly, the Dakar’s suspension has stronger dampers and longer links. The staggered 19-inch front and 20-inch wheels are fitted with Pirelli Scorpion All-Terrain Plus tires as standard. 245/45 front and 295/40 rear, the tires have a 9mm tread depth and a dual carcass design for added durability. Pirelli P Zero summer tires are available as a free option, but we encourage you to try them out. don’t do that.
Despite the increased suspension travel and fatter tyres, the 911 Dakar’s on-road ride is stiffer than you’d expect from a machine designed for dirt. It’s more like his street-spec 911 Carrera, so there’s no issues with pitch or dive under acceleration or braking, and so is body roll. The steering is as snappy as any of his 911s, but this car’s handling ability is limited only by the reduced asphalt grip of his rubber off-road. Again, the standard steel brakes work perfectly. Porsche does not offer a carbon-ceramic upgrade.
Like the standard Carrera 4 GTS, the 911 Dakar uses a twin-turbo 3.0-liter flat-six engine with 473 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, mated to an 8-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. On pavement, the Dakar he hits 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, which is the same as the rear-wheel-drive Carrera GTS. However, don’t try to v-max this thing on gravel roads, as it can only sustain maximum ride height up to 105 mph.
However, you should definitely start off-road. After all, Porsche has designed a new Rallye Launch Control system that allows for more off-the-line wheel spin than usual. In fact, there’s a fully independent Rallye drive mode that recalibrates the all-wheel drive’s torque split to give a stronger rear he bias, loosening the traction control reins, and intentionally giving the tail his happy antics. make it possible. Holding his PSM button on the dashboard for a few seconds completely disables traction control and turns the 911 Dakar into a total hooligan. Quick and responsive steering allows you to make small corrections to keep the 911 on line. And rear-biased power delivery with lateral torque he vectoring lets you control the playfulness of the rear end with the throttle.
Right-click the Drive Mode dial again to access Off-Road Mode, which automatically raises the suspension to maximum ground clearance. This locks the all-wheel-drive system to his 50/50 front/rear split, but leaves left-right torque vectoring across the rear axle in effect. Taking it one step further, airing down the Pirelli tires puts the Dakar into full-blown dune attack mode.
Porsche borrows the 911 Turbo’s cooling system (which includes a pair of large 650-watt cooling fans) to manage airflow, and the central intercooler design suffers more off-road damage than other 911 designs. Because it’s unlikely. The GTS’s center he radiator has also been removed and the front fascia has been reshaped. The Dakar has stainless steel underbody protection for when you hit the nose in the dunes. Also, a new intake and air filter help reduce all the dirt and dust that is sure to be picked up. If things really go wrong (hopefully not literally), bright red tow hooks front and rear should make recovery easier.
I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun off-road. If you press the accelerator, the Dakar will run up hills, fly over peaks, slide sideways at the foot of hills, and kick up huge pillars of sand. All the while, his 3.0-liter engine roars and the transmission keeps his second gear to keep his throttle response sharp.
The best thing I can say about this experience is that in the sand and gravel the Dakar still feels like a 911. It’s easy to control. It works with you and inspires you to go faster and faster. In the same way that the Carrera 4 GTS is good on road, the Dakar is equally good in the dirt.
Living together is just as easy. The Dakar comes standard with one-piece carbon fiber bucket seats, but he has the option of an 18-way adjustable chair if needed. Otherwise it’s all typical 911 stuff in the cabin. Porsche Communication Management technology in a colorful and responsive touchscreen, a digital display flanked by a large analogue tachometer, and a level of fit and finish that makes this car rattle-free. Shake it nudge it over the rutted road.
Again, that’s to be expected, given the exorbitant prices of the Dakar. $223,450 including destination $1,450, or slightly cheaper than the new 911 GT3 RS for comparison. Of course, this is not the problem. With only 2,500 being consumed worldwide, Porsche has no problem selling every Dakar it can produce.
My biggest hope is that people who buy a 911 Dakar will actually spec it out in cool colors and snort. We don’t just make this thing a garage and show it off at our local Cars & Coffee every now and then. Dakar is silly, hilarious, and like no other on the streets today. If you don’t let this 911 play in the sand, you’re in big trouble.