The Porsche 911 Dakar Is Absolutely NOT What You Expect It to Be — And That’s What Makes It Awesome

What do you think of Porsche's rally-fied 911?

Yep, the Porsche 911 Dakar is a rolling paradox: a purebred sports car that’s also a serious off-roader.

Porsche first fitted its iconic 911 with an all-wheel drive system way back in 1984, for that year’s Paris-Dakar Rally. Now, the automaker is evoking that decision with the aptly named 911 Dakar: An official factory build that’s probably (at least, depending on your tastes) the most badass version yet.

At its heart, the 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar is 50 millimeters (roughly 2 inches) higher than your standard Carerra. That’s done through longer springs, shocks and suspension linkage, though it doesn’t stop there. Porsche took the standard car’s front-axle lift system and added it to the rear as well, offering up another 30 millimeters of extra clearance capability. The result is 7.5 inches of clearance with the car in its highest level, which you’ll see in the photos here. That’s still a bit lower than most of your run of the mill SUVs, but they’re also not a Porsche 911, are they?

Lest you think the high setting is only for more hardcore, slow-speed settings, think again. Even in that high setting, you can drive the Porsche 911 Dakar up to 105 mph (170 km/h). Above that speed, the car will lower itself back to its normal level…for obvious reasons.

The 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar also gets a staggered set of Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus tires. You’ll get 245/45/ZR19 rubber at the front, and 295/40/ZR20 at the rear. Summer and winter tires are available as an option, and they also get two carcass layers to reinforce the sidewalls. As you’d expect, the Dakar comes with an 8-speed PDK transmission and standard all-wheel drive. You also get rear-axle steering, GT3 engine mounts, and Porsche’s dynamic chassis control anti-roll system.

Different modes for different folks (and driving situations, of course)

The 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar offers up two distinct driving modes inspired by its namesake desert runner design. Rallye mode works for loose, uneven surfaces and biases the AWD system more toward the rear. In Offroad mode, you’ll get the highest available ground clearance for more technical terrain and sand. Both modes enable Porsche’s new “Rallye Launch Control”, which allows about 20% wheel slippage. Still, the goal there is to enable lightning-fast starts off the pavement.

Under the carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) rear spoiler, the 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar gets a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged flat-six engine. That enables output of 473 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. Porsche quotes the car’s 0-60 time at 3.2 seconds, or just a hair off the pavement-focused Carrera 4 GTS. That said, the automaker limits this car’s top speed to 150 mph because of the all-terrain tires — not that you’d likely want to drive faster than that.

On top, the optional roof basket can hold up to 92 pounds (42 kg) of equipment. In the showcase, it houses water, extra fuel, folding shovels and traction boards. You can even get a tent if you so choose, making this one hell of a camping rig.

Pricing and availability

Now, here’s the rub: Only 2,500 examples of the 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar will be manufactured. Those who do put their names in for a unit can spec the Rallye Design package, which is the full-on 1984 homage (what you see above). Customers can decide the door numbers between 1 and 999 (who’s going to go for the number we’re all thinking of, I wonder…?).

It’s not exactly cheap, either. Prices for the 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar kick off at $223,450, or about the same as a GT3 RS. Of course, two factors will drive the price northward: Porsche’s options list, including the $28,470 Rallye Design package, and dealer markups. Still, the folks who get this car (or indeed the Lamborghini Huracán Staccato) will get a properly unique and bonkers car to show off to absolutely everyone. And that makes both of them pretty sweet.

Get a closer look at the 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar from the LA Auto Show below: