Porsche 911 Dakar: With the 911 into the dunes

With the Dakar, Porsche heralds the end of the first half of the life of the 911 Generation 992. How does the 480 hp off-road model, limited to 2,500 units, drive in the dunes of Morocco?

Active aerodynamics? Get rid of it, it can only break. Instead: Passive and robust, powder-coated salvage lugs on the front and rear of the 911 Dakar - just one indication that Porsche is serious. Because this 911 is not a quick shot, work on it began around ten years ago. It should have already existed in the 991 generation. There was not only a design show car, but a tangible test vehicle, funnily enough based on a convertible, because nothing else was available at the time.

But then corporate policy took hold, someone important just didn't want to. But now: everything is different. The latest and last variant of the sports car before the facelift is to be sidelined, and really. Gravel? Gravel? Excellent. Even better: sand. Lots of sand. Preferably so much of it that it piles up into dunes. And so wonderfully rustles in all four wheelhouses, pure, gentle rustling without this very gentle pattering that would mix with the rushing in snow.

The truth lies in the stone

At first, however, it is surprising that the 911 makes it to the dunes at all. The roads there, here in northern Morocco, fall into numerous faults and protect themselves against amateurs with insidious rocks and fragments, or at least against amateurish tire choices. On the Dakar, however, Porsche puts on 19-inch tires at the front and 20-inches at the rear with 45 and 40 rims, which Pirelli had to develop specially. Why? Because no vehicle that previously required robust all-terrain skins should also sweep ambitiously through curves on asphalt. And if it does, it turns out to be significantly heavier than the 911 with its 1,605 kilograms (factory specification). So now: Nine millimeters of tread depth (usually five to six mm for a sports tire), double carcass and 40 percent stiffer sidewalls than with a standard tire.

In any case, it takes quite a while until you throw your fear out of the side window on the washboard slopes that one of these chunks will poke through the rubber like a thumbtack through a balloon and the next one will knock the rim crooked. That's OK. speed up. Let the undercarriage work.

And how can a chassis let a 911 fire through the terrain with the usual agility and, if necessary, with ambition? There would be: A track widened by 28 (front) and 15 mm (rear), longer spring deflections to raise the body by four centimeters compared to a basic Carrera, a lift function working by hydraulics and an additional element on each spring strut, which would add another three centimeters more ground clearance, spring rates reduced by 50 percent to keep mechanical traction high.That's it? Not quite: There is also the electromechanical roll stabilization PDCC, whose decoupling stabilizers allow a certain degree of entanglement off-road on the one hand and good body control both on and off the road on the other. Something else? For the sake of completeness: The rear-axle steering – just as standard as the PDCC, which at a basic price of 222,020 euros is not a sign of excessive generosity.

On the calibration table

However, as the development team emphasizes, the most important thing is the application of all vehicle dynamics control systems, including the fully variable all-wheel drive and the controlled differential lock on the rear axle. New: The driving modes Rallye and Offroad in addition to Wet, Normal and Sport. Sport +, on the other hand, is omitted. Its drive characteristics can now be found in rally mode, which also sends more drive torque to the rear axle when there is a risk of understeer, but this is redirected towards the front axle again. The off-road mode integrates these more strongly, closes the rear differential lock and controls the highest ground clearance. Incidentally, the lift system corresponds to the one that can be ordered for every 911 in order to increase the ground clearance on the front end for garage entrances or the like.

In the Dakar it's on all four wheels and therefore needs a larger pressure accumulator so that you don't have to constantly readjust. Nevertheless, the bright whirring of the compressor occasionally mixes with the background noise. Because: It goes there with the Dakar. Now on fine sand, it rushes in the thinly glazed, rear seatless, slightly carbon fiber (front hood, rear wing) 911, you surf through the dunes, always under traction, out of the low speed range, under no circumstances with less than 3,000 rpm (max. torque 570 Nm from 2,300 rpm), rather well above that in order to maintain momentum. Oh yes: On asphalt, the Dakar should accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in 3.4 seconds and reach speeds of up to 240 km/h. But that is far away. Just don't sink in now.

But first: let the air out of the tires, 1.3 bar is enough from here. The slightly hoarse roar of thunder from the engine adopted from the GTS echoes in the empty interior, suddenly increased wheel slip makes the sound erupt, while the lightweight bucket seat with electric height adjustment (like to use for off-road use to keep an overview in the dunes) bravely holds in place.

Election promise

Which mode is best now? Rally? off-road? Use the stability control with the correspondingly more relaxed control thresholds as an aid? By the way: Even a launch control start is possible in both modes, for whatever reason, because the control threshold is 20 percent more generous. Or extend the electronic leash further with PSM Sport? Or even lose weight altogether? the latter.It's enough if the sand slows you down too hard every now and then because you didn't dare to keep your foot on the gas or because too much of it is simply piling up in front of the bike. And although the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission is meticulously applied as usual, it changes gears according to every requirement profile: Even tugging at the paddles gives you better control over the Dakar, certainly only subjectively, but even that may help, the fear of using folding spades and To overcome checker plate outside of the Penalty. Oh yes, time for a few more numbers: Maximum 19 degrees approach angle (like the Cayenne), 16.1 degrees ramp angle at the front, 18.2 degrees at the rear.

Enough of that, because you now have the 911 where it should be: In a rhythm, a flow, in a playful way. Long drifts (works great in off-road mode), implemented by controlled load changes, exact targeting of the markings in the dunes, fine dosing of the engine power, albeit at the upper limit, accompanied by the Tschingderassabum of the sports exhaust system (standard, you don't know anything about that at Porsche) . With every further, often hanging curve between the dunes, with every crest, with every climb mastered, with the growing joy in the rustling of the sand and the knowledge of the robustness of the Dakar, one question inevitably breaks a path into the euphoria: Where? Where the heck can you experience that? Sure, here, on the trail of the real Dakar Rally, at least those from the glorified past. But, oh, never mind. The main thing was that the salvage loops were not needed.


So there it is, the Porsche 911 that doesn't shy away from the gravel bed of a race track. And even if the concept is based on a desert rally tradition: The Dakar is really crazy, a weird concept that grabs you, teaches you to drive and lets you experience it in a new way. It's just stupid that in this country a racetrack is more around the corner than a desert landscape.


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