• Porsche introduced the 2023 911 Dakar at the Los Angeles Auto Show’s 2022 edition.
• This is a lifted and strengthened adaptation of the iconic sports car.
• The model will be produced with a limited run of 2,500 units across the 2023 and 2024 model-years.
Los Angeles, CA - Porsche is continuing to plan for the 911’s 60th anniversary celebrations with the reveal of the 2023 911 Dakar model, a lifted and strengthened take on the popular sports car that is prepared to conquer harsh conditions from the Sahara desert to the frozen wilds of Scandinavia and Northern Canada and everything in-between.
In addition to celebrating the 911 anniversary, this new iteration also here to commemorate overall wins at the grueling 14,000-km Paris-Dakar Rally in 1986 and 1988, won respectively by the 953 and 959 models.
A Carrera 4 GTS starting point
At its heart, the 2023 911 Dakar’s closest relative in the 911 lineup is the Carrera 4 GTS, with which it shares a 3.0L bi-turbo flat-6 good for 473 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, sent – no surprise – to all four wheels via an 8-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission.
So no, there is no manual option. It’s not that it couldn’t be done, but Porsche explained that a lot of re-jigging would have to be done in order to make it all work and the costs of that were prohibitive for a car with a limited run of 2,500 cars across both the 2023 and 2024 model years.
The powertrain is really where the main similarities end, however, as the body and chassis has undertaken an extensive overhaul to provide the Dakar the ability not just to survive those harsh environments, but to thrive and conquer them.
The most obvious change is the ride height. It’s up 50 mm over a Carrera C4, and can raise an additional 30 mm when in Off-road mode. The lift system makes use of longer dampers and has been fitted to both the front and rear axles, as opposed to other 911 model which just get the front lift. In addition to that, there’s re-tuned spring rates to help soften the blow but provide the handling over rough terrain; in case you’re wondering how serious the Dakar is about blasting through sand dunes, it can maintain the “high level” setting at speeds of up to 170 km/h.
To keep everything in check in terms of where the rubber meets the road – or, more appropriately the sand or gravel – Porsche turned to Pirelli to develop bespoke Scorpion All Terrain Plus tires with a 9 mm tread pattern to really munch through all that dirt. They measure 19 inches up front and 20-inch at the rear, which is down on the 20-inch and 21-inch tires found on the C4.
The smaller wheels were required to provide the thick, tough sidewalls needed for the kinds of abuse Porsche expects the Dakar to undergo. The wheels themselves, meanwhile, are crafted from aluminum and have been styled to recall those found on the 953 car. The A/T tires come as standard, but summer performance and snow tires are also available.
In addition to the higher ride height, the Dakar gets stainless steel plate under the front and rear bumpers and along the wider sills to ensure any rocks kicked up won’t shred the paint too severely. The front bumpers, meanwhile, have been redesigned for less front overhang and better approach and departure angles.
While Off-road mode is on-hand to help progress over slower, rougher terrain, the all-new Rallye mode is tuned to allow for stable progress over fast gravel. It provides a more rear-biased power delivery and more wheel slip, so getting the back end out through your favourite back-road is made all that much easier. No matter the drive mode, meanwhile, standard all-wheel steering and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus keeps you more stable still.
Inside, keen-eyed Porschophiles will see that the back seats are missing, which is the only way you can get the Dakar. The fitting of the adjustable-height rear suspension meant the back seats had to go, and for European-market cars there us a roll cage option and that wouldn’t make much sense when paired with rear seats. Yes; the 911 is known traditionally as a 2 + 2, but being tuned for lightweight performance (there’s also a carbon fibre spoiler and frunk cover as well as lightweight glass) and dedicated to traversing rugged terrain as the Dakar is, back seats just weren’t in the cards. You can, however, opt for dealer-installed options such as a roof rack, jerry cans, supplementary light bars and even a roof-mounted tent.
That, of course, is all somewhat secondary. From the bonkers ride height, to the chunky tires, playfully-named drive modes (more standard fare like normal a d sport is also here, but sport-plus and individual are no longer) and the option to spec a modern take on the classic Rothman’s tobacco livery (with “Roughroads” taking the place of “Rothman’s” which is…quirky), this is a special 911.
Porsche will say that the recently-revealed GT3 RS is still the “halo” or “flagship” 911, but with this character and this low production count – not to mention the $247,200 asking price -- the Dakar deserves a spot in the great halls of special 911s of yore.