Porsche 911

14 min read

A new breed of 911 pays homage to the Paris-Dakar-conquering Porsche 953

PHOTOGRAPHY JACK HARRISON

MODEL TESTEDDAKAR

Price £173,000 Power 473bhp Torque 420lb ft 0-60mph 3.3sec 30-70mph in fourth 5.4sec Fuel economy 24.4mpg CO2 emissions 256g/km 70-0mph 45.1m

The Porsche 911 Dakar needs little introduction. It is the most significant reinterpretation of the factory-built, road-legal 911 rulebook since the engineers at Weissach took a 996-generation Supercup race car and made it fit for public consumption. That little experiment took place nearly 25 years ago and the resulting model is one of which you may have heard. The now iconic 911 GT3 was named in reference to its motorsport-derived DNA.

The subject of this road test spells out its source of inspiration even more unambiguously. It was in 1984 that Porsche won the 7500-mile Paris-Dakar Rally using a transmogrified G-Series 911 with 270 litres of fuel capacity and a manually locking centre diff and permitting nearly 300mm of wheel travel, though the 3.2-litre flat six in the back was largely unchanged from the road car’s. It was known as the 953, and as well as surprising all and sundry by being the first dedicated sports car to win the world’s most gruelling rough-road race, it paved the way for the more famous (and similarly Rothmansliveried) 959 Paris-Dakar. It is now celebrated by the 911 Dakar, of which 2500 units will be built.

This unusual, potentially very special model arrives at a time when Porsche is expressing itself more freely than ever, at least so far as the 911 is concerned. The latest GT3 RS has to an epic extent redefined the capability of the track-day 911, while the S/T melds the precision of a hardcore RS with the road manners of a garden Carrera. Want a 911 Turbo shorn of its front driveshafts and with three pedals? With the Sport Classic, you can have that too.

At a glance, the Dakar’s underbody armour, Cayennerivalling ride height and all-terrain tyres would seem to mark it out as a 911 for dusty trails and muddy tracks. And it will handle those like no series-production 911 before it. But there’s also a sense that its unique modifications could make it a rewarding, engaging road car that’s easier to exploit and live with than any of its range-mates. Could this be the case? Let’s find out.

DESIGN AND ENGINEERING AAAAC

It can be tricky to swiftly tell apart the numerous derivatives of the current Porsche 911 range, but there can be no mistaking the Dakar. It is based on the Carrera 4 GTS,

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