When it comes to motorsports legacy, few automakers can hang with Porsche. The German manufacturer has been leaning on that reputation for years, racing with its 911 but using its winning heritage to sell more cars.
There are plenty of special editions of the 911, but few have celebrated the brand’s off-road wins—until now, with the introduction of the 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar, which commemorates the brand’s 1984 Paris-Dakar rally victory.
The modifications to this coupe are pretty thorough. You’ll find red towing lugs at the front and back, higher wheel arches, and stainless steel armour all over. The vehicle also includes an auxiliary power outlet on the roof to support an optional roof rack with spotlights. That roof rack is rated to carry up to 40 kilograms of rally equipment like fuel, water, shovels, and traction boards. Porsche also offers a roof tent for camping.
Beneath the sheet metal is a higher and more rugged suspension system, which is 50 millimetres taller than on a standard 911. It can rise an additional 30 millimetres with the standard lift system, which functions at speeds up to 150 kilometres per hour. The car also features rear-axle steering, active roll stabilization, and engine mounts from the race-oriented 911 GT3.
Even though it’s off-road oriented, the 911 Dakar features smart weight-saving features. There’s carbon fibre on the spoiler and hood, as well as lightweight glass and a lighter battery. The 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat-six engine features 473 horsepower, and the quick-shifting PDK gearbox allows the 911 Dakar to launch from 0-100 kilometres per hour in just 3.4 seconds. The 911 Dakar has two drive modes: Rallye and Off-Road. They change how the all-wheel-drive and stability systems operate.
This is all inspired by the OG Dakar-oriented Porsche. Back in the day, the automaker made a specially modified 911 called the 953, which featured a special 4×4 system and a higher suspension system, and managed to get the overall win over the gruelling 14,000-kilometre off-road race in 1984. This wasn’t just a one-time deal either, with Porsche launching the 959 models two years later.
For the purists, the new 911 Dakar models can be configured with the optional Rallye Design Package ($32,490), an old-school livery that recalls the original model. The package includes a two-tone paint finish, white wheels, a race number, and a Roughroads logo in place of the Rothmans logo on the original 953 and 959.
In developing the 2023 911 Dakar, prototypes were tested for over half a million kilometres, including over 10,000 off-road. The automaker visited some important locations too, heading to the Château de Lastours test track in France, where Dakar teams prepare for the real deal. Porsche also showed off how rally champion Walter Röhrl handled the new sports car in Arjeplog, Sweden, where he could play on a test track on a frozen lake.
Only 2,500 of these 911s will be available, so just seeing one will be a treat. The real excitement will come with driving one in its intended environment.