The legendary Porsche 911 Carrera SC 3.2 4×4 (also called the 911 Paris-Dakar) could lay claim to the title of the finest off-roader from the German automaker. Behind the watchful eyes and careful hands of French rally ace René Metge and co-driver Dominique Lemoyne, the 953-Series Porsche 911 Paris-Dakar was the first sports car to conquer the treacherous Paris-Dakar rally in 1984.
2023 Porsche 911 Dakar
However, we have a gut feeling the 992-Series Porsche 911 Dakar has the goods to grab the “finest off-roader” title from its forebearer. Designed and engineered to celebrate its grandfather’s historic Paris-Dakar victory, the 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar heralds the dawn of the off-road supercar era. Porsche drew first blood, and we’re confident its fellow German and Italian neighbors are paying close attention.
We all know the Porsche 911 as the epitome of an everyday, usable sports car (and older models are surprisingly affordable). But as Porsche said in its press release: “The concept of the 911 knows almost no boundaries,” so it came up with something that would drop jaws at the 2022 Los Angeles Auto Show. The 911 Dakar starts with a 992-Series 911 sports car and ends with vintage livery, the first time that Porsche mixes a two-tone paint scheme with classic decals.
The 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar stands out (literally) with its new off-road suspension. It sits almost two inches (50 mm) higher than a standard 911 Carrera with the sport suspension package, and it has a lift system that raises the front and rear by up to 1.18 inches (30 mm) to challenge proper SUVs. Porsche claims the highest suspension setting is suitable for up to 105 mph, which is good news for us looking to fulfill our Paris-Dakar childhood fantasies. But if you go faster, the suspension reverts to the standard ride height.
A considerable part of the Porsche 911 Dakar’s off-road smarts are bespoke Pirelli Scorpion All-Terrain Plus tires with an off-road dedicated tread pattern and nine millimeters of depth, perfect for grabbing loose terrain. The rubber features reinforced sidewalls and a dual carcass construction to resist punctures and provide extra durability. Other tire choices include Pirelli P Zero summer performance or snow tires that feature the same double carcass construction.
Twin-Turbo Boxer Engine
The 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar has a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged Boxer engine that churns out 473 horsepower and 420 lb-ft. of torque. It sends power to all four wheels using an eight-speed PDK dual-clutch automatic and a Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel drivetrain. Furthermore, rear-wheel steering, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC), and engine mounts inherited from the 911 GT3 are standard.
Helping the cause are lightweight glass, a carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) hood, and deleted rear seats, allowing the 911 Dakar to weigh just 3,552 lbs. (1,611 kg), only 16 lbs. more than a 911 Carerra 4 GTS with the PDK gearbox. It also has two additional Rallye and Off-Road driving modes to make the most of the car’s hi-tech driveline.
Everything combines to enable a zero to 60 mph time of 3.2 seconds and a 150 mph top speed, mightily impressive for an off-road machine. When was the last time a Land Rover Defender, Mitsubishi Pajero (Shogun), or Toyota Land Cruiser scampered to 60 mph in three seconds?
Ready For The Outdoors
Further design highlights on the 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar are bulbous fender flares, aggressive rocker panels, and stainless steel side skirts. Meanwhile, the minimalist interior features front bucket seats wrapped in Race-Tex upholstery and green stitching. The roof has a 12-volt socket to power the auxiliary lights on the optional roof basket, a handy storage solution that accommodates up to 92 lbs. of gear – including an available roof tent.
Porsche has a Rallye Design Package for the new 911 Dakar if you fancy a genuine vintage vibe. The package consists of white and blue paint, rally decals, and customizable start numbers on the doors. Buyers of the 911 Dakar could also take home a Porsche Design Chronograph timepiece equipped with a titanium carbide housing.
2023 Porsche 911 Dakar Pricing
Only 2,500 units of the Porsche 911 Dakar will exist, and they won’t come cheap. It starts at $223,450 (including the $1,450 destination charge). Expect this off-road machine to arrive at U.S. Porsche dealerships in the spring of 2023.
Alvin Reyes is an Automoblog feature columnist and an expert in sports and performance cars. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.