The latest 992 generation of the iconic Porsche 911 is an excellent car, having proven itself on the road and at the track many times over and in multiple variations since its introduction just a few years ago. It sounds like Porsche might be getting a little bored with its sports coupe, however, as a company exec has commissioned a pair of experimental off-road Dakar-style test beds to tackle the harshest conditions the 911 has ever faced, just to find out how far the car can really go when pushed to its limits.
There have been Dakar-style 911s before this, and Porsche has a legacy in rallycross with its 911 already—but now it’s time to play in the sandbox with the 992 generation. To find out how the 992 fares in harsh off-road environments, Porsche’s Vice President of Vehicle Architecture Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser tasked the 992 911’s chief engineer, Michael Rösler, to work with Romain Dumas Motorsport on two new adventurous cars. The assignment: build a pair of 911s that can make it through the thin air, low temperatures, and the steep slops of Chile’s Ojos del Salado, the highest volcano (by elevation) in the world.
The Rösler and Dumas team started out with two 992 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S models, featuring a turbo flat-six good for 443 horsepower linked to the available 7-speed manual transmission. The cars got roll cages, carbon fiber seats with harnesses, off-road rubber on the wheels, lightweight Aramid fiber underbody protection panels, lower gear ratios in the transmission, manual diff locks, and portal axles to raise ground clearance up to 13.8 inches now. The cooling system was moved upward to avoid off-roading damage, a front-mounted winch was installed, and a “Porsche Warp-Connector” device was added, which mechanically links all four wheels for constant wheel load during extreme chassis articulation for improved traction.
The Porsche team made it as far as they could go across snow fields and rocky gradients, reaching an impressive 19,708 feet where they ran into giant ice sheets that stopped them from going any further up. They consider the adventure a success, with both the cars and people surviving in air with just half the oxygen of sea level and cold temperatures as low as -22 degrees Fahrenheit.
“This was a truly memorable and special moment in a place that’s both beautiful and brutal at the same time-I guess the only machines anywhere in the world higher than us today were aircraft! For the team and the car it was about learning-and right out of the box, the car was tough and nimble,” driver Romain Dumas said.
It’s unclear if Porsche has any intention on translating the two off-road 911s into a production or motorsports application, though it has previously suggested a production Safari- and Dakar-inspired model is in the works. Right now, both cars are just experimental test beds for Porsche’s research and development team and Romain Dumas motorsport to test the limits of the 911’s platform, as well as different configurations and with new equipment, and the Chile adventure was to satisfy a “what if?” curiosity among the engineers.
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