Porsche goes volcano-climbing with ‘experimental’ 911 off-roader with portal axles and ‘warp-connecter’
Porsche 911 experimental off-roader, front view
Porsche 911 experimental off-roader, side view on rocks
Porsche 911 experimental off-roader, top view
Porsche 911 experimental off-roader, in truck with lights on
Porsche 911 experimental off-roader, interior, steering wheel, gear selector
Porsche 911 experimental off-roader, interior switches
Porsche 911 experimental off-roader, side view, driving with mountains in the background
Porsche 911 experimental off-roader, side view, sliding around on loose surface, mountains behind
Porsche 911 experimental off-roader, side view
Porsche 911 experimental off-roader, dead-on rear view
Porsche 911 experimental off-roader, hanging from winch in snow on the side of a volcano, casual, like
Porsche 911 experimental off-roader, in snow on a volcano
Porsche 911 experimental off-roader, in boulder field
Porsche 911 experimental off-roader, rear view, low
Porsche 911 experimental off-roader with the team that drove it nearly to the top of a volcano
► Ultimate adventure 911► Tested to extremes by Romain Dumas
► Makes your Defender look weak
‘Where we’re going, we don’t need roads’ isn’t a direct quote from the Porsche press release about this pair of ‘experimental’ 911 off-roaders. But it might as well be. Together with a team led by ‘endurance racer and adventurer’ (that is a direct quote) Romain Dumas, Porsche has just driven them up the side of the highest volcano in the world.
Ojos del Salado in Chile stands 6,893m tall – and the two specially modified Porsche 911s made it up to 6,007m, navigating boulders and ice fields in temperatures down to around minus 30 degrees Celsius, while breathing half the usual available amount of oxygen. Cars and team were only halted short of the summit by ‘impassable’ walls of seasonal snow.
That’s no production car…
Too right it isn’t. Although both of these extreme 911s started life as regular Carrera 4S models, they have been extensively upgraded to meet the needs of the task. And while a variety of so-called 911 Safari prototypes have been spotted testing, we don’t see any planned production model going as far as this.
The turbocharged flat-six motors in the back are as they left the factory, apparently – meaning a theoretical 437bhp in regular conditions, which these most certainly were not. But almost everything else about the cars has undergone some kind of transformation to cope with the volcanic terrain.
Are those portal axles?
They most certainly are. That’s the sort of thing we’re only used to seeing routinely on Unimogs and outlandish variants of the G-Class, but as with those vehicles they’ve been deployed here to increase ground clearance – in this case to 350mm.
Porsche also mentions adding something called a motorsport-derived ‘Warp-Connecter’. This is described as ‘a mechanical link between all four wheels to allow constant wheel load even when the chassis is enduring extreme articulation – contributing to maximum traction.’
When queried further, the UK press office sort of shrugged and suggested it was a tongue-in-cheek term for something in the transmission. If it turns out this is Porsche’s way of saying it’s welded the centre diff we’re going to have to finally admit the Germans do have a sense of humour.
Putting that to one side, there are also switchable manual differential locks front and rear, plus ‘an advanced steer-by-wire’ system. Not to mention a winch and the quite significantly revised bodywork required to accommodate those enormous off-road tyres.
Less obviously, gear ratios have been reduced to enhance low-speed control, while the underbody is protected by lightweight but ‘extremely tough’ Aramid fibre protection panels. This is designed to cope with rock-sliding, even.
Mega. When can I buy one?
Haha. You can’t. This really is an experimental project – despite those ever-present rumours of a 911 Safari production car.
If sir and madame really are keen on the idea, however, might we point you in the direction of the Russell Built Fabrication Baja 911…?
In the meantime, you can watch the experimental factory cars in this short video: