— 16 May 2024

Driven: Porsche’s 911 Dakar In The Aussie Bush

— 16 May 2024
John McMahon
John McMahon

Few opportunities bring out a childlike giddiness as much as 24 hours with the Porsche 911 Dakar.

This off-road beast is as unique as it is rare in the Australian market, so much so that there simply weren’t enough days in the month for all publications to get their hands on the sole press car before it left the country. But when a last-minute opening popped up in the calendar, there were no hesitations from us to step up to the plate.

So we strapped on a swag, played Tetris with the camping chairs tangled behind the roll cage, and filled the tiny esky with ice. This was perhaps the most bootlegged overnight Aussie bush experience ever undertaken, at least in a half-a-million-dollar off-road supercar.

So what’s the story behind the Porsche 911 Dakar?

Oh boy… where do we start?

The 911 Dakar in its modern form is a nod to one of the Paris to Dakar rally’s most decorated entrants. The challenging endurance race began way back in the early 1980s and Porsche’s successes in this event have now been immortalised with this limited edition spec of the 992 series 911. Only 2,500 of this tribute exist in the world.

As for the car itself, think of it as a very expensive battle-hardened Carrera 4 GTS with hiking boots on and a reinforced underbody. It can ride up to 80mm higher than a standard 911 and is seriously capable of most off-road pursuits.

Who’s the buyer?

Funny you mention that, as there’s only a handful of buyers in Australia and it’s unlikely the 911 Dakar would be the only Porsche in their garage.

Our test vehicle, complete with the iconic ‘Rallye Design Package’ ($54,730), topped out at $561,810 before on-roads. That’s a pricey party trick which, let’s be honest, would unlikely see anything gnarlier than your weekend hobby farm.

The ‘boys and their toys’ line is playing on repeat in my head here.

Tell us about your first impressions.

Driving the 911 Dakar is freeing beyond any expectations I could have had.

I’ve piloted many precious vehicles over the years, but never before have I felt an immediate weight off my shoulders when departing the dealership. It’s always the inverse. This is something only the Dakar’s robust build and generous ground clearance can unlock.

Drivers are gifted an addictive layer of additional security and peace of mind that’s unprecedented behind the wheel of a German sports car. Immediately, the Pirelli Scorpion rubber feels a bit strange and knobbly at low speeds, especially for a 911. The road noise on the highway is considerable, but hey, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Give us the top lines on efficiency and performance.

Efficiency is a rather redundant topic for a bi-turbo flat-six 911, whose sole purpose is to eat up as much tarmac (or other surfaces) as possible in search of adventure.

But if you must know, the factory claims a suck down of 10.5-litres per 100 kilometres. The 67-litre fuel tank is no bigger than the Carrera 4 GTS, but the optional Porsche-approved jerry cans for the roof will get you further if required.

As for performance, you’ve got 353 kW distributed when necessary to both axels and 570Nm of torque to get you out of any sticky situations off-road.

Tech & connectivity — what’s the word?

It’s only ever the best from Porsche.

The German marque does it better than most, offering a completely wireless Apple CarPlay experience across 10.9 inches of infotainment that connects flawlessly every time.

That being said, there’s no wireless charging, but you’ll find two USB-C ports hidden under the armrest, which can take a single phone and charging cable.

And for the boring safety stuff?

For one, there’s a fire extinguisher in the passenger’s footwell. You don’t get that on a standard Carrera 4 GTS.

The same can be said for the roll cage that replaces the rear seats, which is part of the Rallye package. In some ways, you could assume the Dakar is safer than any road-going 911 you’ve ever driven.

For another, you’re not driving it like you would a normal 911, so the risk probably balances out somewhere in between. I noticed that it didn’t have the odd simple safety feature like lane-changing warning lights on the mirrors, for example.

But rest assured, Porsche knows how to make a car (and make it as safe as they can before any wannabe Carlos Sainz Sr. gets behind the wheel).

The most memorable — or heartbreaking — thing about your drive?

It has to be the almost out-of-body experience when first leaving the sealed roads for gravel and dirt.

Every instinct is telling you that you’ve just ruined a 911, which is quickly replaced by the thought of how far you can push the thing. Your brain switches gears that quickly, and it is the most joyful moment when you finally give in. I can assure you that your off-road limits will be reached before the Dakar’s are. Now it’s not quite indestructible, but it makes you feel like it is.

Also, you should be prepared for your morning coffee run to take approximately four times longer than normal thanks to the multitude of old codgers incessant on striking up a conversation.

For 24 hours, though, it was nothing short of enjoyable on all fronts.

One thing you should know before a test drive.

The Dakar is an exception to the rule.

Chances are you have to order one before you even get to see it, let alone drive it. It’s sold out worldwide, so the rhetorical test drive prompt we have here is irrelevant unless you manage to find one on the second hand market in the coming years.

I will say though, while the double roof racks made it easy to mount a two-person swag, it would have been a hell of a lot easier to load gear with the ‘roof basket’ option, as Porsche call it. This rack includes an auxiliary light bar for night driving, jerry cans for water and/or fuel, recovery boards, a waterproof duffle bag, and a Porsche-branded folding shovel.

They can be moved around to make way for plenty of extra gear, and would negate the need for your belongings to engage shape-shifting sorcery to find a place behind the roll cage. A mandatory consideration for any budding buyer, and one that just makes it look more Mad Max-appropriate overall.

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John McMahon
John McMahon is a founding member of the Boss Hunting team who honed his craft by managing content across website and social. Now, he's the publication's General Manager and specialises in bringing brands to life on the platform.


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