The legendary Porsche sports car aces a test program on gravel, sand, and snow
Porsche would present a very special variant of the iconic 911: the new 911 Dakar. It will be the first two-door sports car to offer outstanding off-road capabilities. The model name reminds about the first overall victory by Porsche in the Paris-Dakar rally. The historic triumph came in 1984 in a modified Porsche 911 – which had been fitted with an all-wheel-drive system for the first time.
During the test, the development drivers didn’t only restrict themselves to intensive use of the off-road tracks around Weissach. In fact, the development team tested the 911 Dakar around the world under extreme conditions over more than half a million km, including more than 10,000 km off-road. The Château de Lastours test track in southern France, for example, was used to test the car’s handling on typical rally courses and fine-tune the suspension. Every kilometer of loose surfaces really put the Porsche 911 Dakar to the test.
Two-time world rally champion Walter Röhrl naturally couldn’t resist the opportunity to put the 911 Dakar through its paces at the extensive testing grounds in Arjeplog, Sweden. The thick ice of the frozen lakes offers Porsche test drivers the ideal basis for closed compacted snow surface – a more realistic scenario than pure sheet ice. With the low friction coefficient on the snow, it was all about traction and steering precision. Even off-road, a Porsche 911 has to provide accurate feedback.
The new 911 Dakar also had to prove itself on fast sand tracks and high dunes. In Dubai and Morocco, test drivers mercilessly drove the off-road sports car up steep, 50-meter dunes in temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius time and time again. “The 911 Dakar delivered a commanding performance even in the desert,” says Frank Moser, Vice President of Model Line 911/718. “Especially here, the 911 Dakar can make the most of its conceptual advantages – the combination of low weight, higher ground clearance, a powerful rear-mounted engine, and the short wheelbase make for an exhilarating driving experience. I was able to experience it myself on test drives in the Sahara.”
Porsche brand ambassador Jörg Bergmeister was also able to test the 911 Dakar as part of the car’s development and was surprised by the driving dynamics of the unusually high-riding sports car on both loose surfaces and asphalt: “I wouldn’t have thought that a vehicle with such ground clearance and all-terrain tires would still feel like a Porsche 911 on asphalt,” he says. Development driver Lars Kern was also surprised during the final fine-tuning drives: “At first I didn’t have the nerve to push the car to its limits. But I am very satisfied with the handling on loose surfaces. Even the ABS is optimized for braking on gravel. It’s amazing how much traction the off-road tires deliver. The car is a blast to drive.”