The off-roading Porsche 911 you never knew you wanted has been revealed at the LA Auto Show following months of rumours and camouflaged prototypes and no, it's not called the 911 Safari. Say hello to the new Porsche 911 Dakar.
Inspired by Paris-Dakar success
Porsche has unashamedly drawn inspiration for the 911 Dakar from its past, namely the 1984 Paris-Dakar race, which it won outright in the first public-facing four-wheel-drive 911, the Type 953. Indeed, it's even possible for buyers of the new 911 Dakar to opt for the distinctive blue-and-white livery of the Rothmans-sponsored racer, complete with the gold-and-red pinstriping. Though look closely and you'll not be surprised to see that tobacco sponsorship has given way to the more socially acceptable "Roughroads" script.
The 911 Dakar can be had in other simple colours, however, indicating that it is much more than just a paintjob. For starters, it sits 50mm higher off the ground than the Porsche 911 Carrera S - and it can be raised by a further 30mm for some serious off-roading. Complementing that is a set of Pirelli Scorpion All-Terrain tyres (245/45 R19 at the front and 295/40 R20 at the back) with a deep tread pattern and a double-carcass design to resist cuts and punctures. Buyers can swap those for conventional tyres if required.
Elsewhere, the 911 Dakar features a fixed rear spoiler made from carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP), prominent alloy towing eyes front and rear, stainless-steel protection plates on the front, rear and side sills, a restyled front end featuring stainless-steel grilles (to protect against flying rocks, apparently) and it uses the same CFRP bonnet as found on the Porsche 911 GT3.
The adventurous looking roof rack shown in our image gallery is optional, housing extra lights and the ability to carry 42kg of equipment. Buyers can even specify an integrated roof tent.
That Roughroads livery can be ordered as part of the Rally Design Package, though buyers can keep an all-white finish if desired. On each door, customers can choose an individual starting number between 1 and 999.
More like a GT3 inside
Glance inside and the 911 Dakar's cabin looks more like that of a GT3 model, thanks to its pared-back design. There are no rear seats and full bucket seats up front as standard. What you can't see is the lightweight glass and battery, helping keep the overall mass down to 1,605kg - just 10kg heavier than a reference 911 with the same powertrain.
The 911 Dakar's driving mode switch allows the driver to select from Wet, Normal, Sport, Rally (possibly labelled "Rallye" in some markets) and Offroad settings, while there's a liberal sprinkling of "911 Dakar" badges.
Beefy tech spec
As you'd hope, the 911 Dakar has four-wheel drive. It's based on the powertrain of the 911 GTS Carrera 4. The twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre flat-six engine puts out up to 480hp and 570Nm of torque for a 0-100km/h time of 3.5 seconds. An eight-speed, dual-clutch PDK automatic gearbox is standard, as is rear-axle steering, the GT3's dynamic engine mounts and Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) anti-roll stabilisation.
Porsche says that the Rally setting "is ideal for loose, uneven surfaces and features rear-focused all-wheel drive," while the Offroad mode unlocks the full ground clearance potential. This uses a four-corner lift system that can be used at speeds of up to 170km/h.
Limited production, not cheap
Though we suspect there'd be sustained demand for a "Dakar" trim level, Porsche has announced that production will be limited to 2,500 examples for worldwide sale. Irish pricing has yet to be confirmed, but its UK price puts it only a few grand below the 911 GT3 RS, corresponding to an Irish price well north of €300,000.