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First Look: 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar Takes the 911 Off the Beaten Path

The 911's rallying heritage produces a limited-edition off-road variant

2023 Porsche 911 Dakar exterior group shot
  • Limited-edition off-road variant of the 911
  • Two-inch suspension lift, with the capability of raising an additional 1.2 inches to clear obstacles
  • Uses the twin-turbo flat-six from the 911 GTS

The Porsche 911 is known first and foremost as a sports car — the choice of purists who want the pinnacle of German engineering and driving bliss. But the 911 also has an off-road history, evidenced by a lifted and modified 911 winning the famous Paris-Dakar rally in 1984. Owners have also been modifying 911s for off-road duty for some time, but now you can finally get a 911 that's already prepped to blitz sand dunes and gravel roads alike right from the factory.

The 2023 Porsche 911 Dakar made its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show today, with chunky tires, tons of personality, and a gigantic price tag to match. It is based on the 911 GTS for the most part, though it pulls in parts from across the 911 lineup to produce a vehicle that looks like a 911 hopped up on its tippy toes to pull something off a tall shelf. Is that a job the Cayenne could do better? Probably. Is this more fun? Also probably.

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Porsche 911 Dakar top down view

What makes it a Dakar?

The Dakar takes its engine from the 911 GTS, a twin-turbo 3.0-liter flat-six that makes 473 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque and is mated to an eight-speed automatic (PDK). All-wheel drive with a locking center differential is standard.

Augmenting the Dakar further are two new drive modes: Rallye (pronounced "rally") and Off-Road. Rallye mode prioritizes sending power to the rear axle and is designed for loose, uneven surfaces. Off-Road raises the Dakar to its tallest ride height and works to maximize traction in sand and rough terrain. There's even a off-road launch control setting that allows some wheelslip, because the only thing more fun than a hard launch is one where you kick up a bunch of dirt as well.

Helping the Dakar to get traction are a set of Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus tires with 9 millimeters of tread depth and reinforced sidewalls. They are wrapped around staggered 19-inch (front) and 20-inch (rear) five-spoke wheels. Because of the all-terrain tire, top speed is limited to 150 mph, and the Dakar can still make the sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds. Summer tires and winter tires are also available from Pirelli.

Underneath, ground clearance is 6.3 inches thanks to taller springs — 2 inches higher than the GTS (with the PASM sport suspension). In Off-Road mode, the suspension is lifted an additional 1.2 inches to get over larger obstacles. Even with the Dakar raised, it can still travel 106 mph.

2023 Porsche 911 Dakar rear 3/4

To keep things svelte, the rear seats have been removed and carbon-fiber bucket seats are installed as standard (though more comfortable seats are optional). In place of the rear seat is the larger pump that powers the hydraulic lift system, so there's no adding it back in. There is also the carbon-fiber hood from the 911 GT3 and a carbon-fiber rear wing. This means that the 911 Dakar ends up with a curb weight of 3,552 pounds, only 16 pounds more than a Carrera 4 GTS with the automatic transmission.

Does it look cool?

A raised 911 at first glance feels a bit off, but stare at it for another minute and the package starts to look better. Those chunky five-spoke wheels fit the 911 Dakar perfectly, as does the Rallye design package, which borrows the white and blue look of the rally-winning 911 that inspired this vehicle. Opt for the package and you can even customize the start number painted on the doors.

2023 Porsche 911 Dakar profile view

Inside, Shade Green stitching on the seats differentiates the cabin from that of other 911s; that color is also offered as an exclusive paint scheme for the Dakar as well. On top, there are roof rails that can support a rooftop tent or a cargo basket with a 92-pound capacity. Steel coverings underneath the front and rear bumpers and side skirts look more rugged and offer greater protection. A carbon-fiber Kevlar-reinforced skid plate that covers more of the bottom of the car is optional as well.

How can I get one?

We won't lie to you, it's going to be tough. Porsche says that only 2,500 examples of the 911 Dakar will be produced, and though a decent percentage of those will be U.S.-bound, they will likely be spoken for very soon — even at the 911 Dakar's eye-watering $223,450 price tag (including destination charges).

2023 Porsche 911 Dakar Badge

Edmunds says

The 911 Dakar is a whimsical, unexpected take on a 911 that we love. A more widely produced and lower-priced version would be even better.