Is Porsche really testing a 911 Safari?

Another bizarre, high riding 992 mule emerges; cue the rumour mill…

By Matt Bird / Monday, November 30, 2020

About a month ago, you might remember pictures surfaced of a Porsche 911 prototype the kind of which hadn't been seen before. The ride height was raised, foam wedged into the wheel arch gap, the tracks widened and a cage stuffed in the back; some suggested it was merely undergoing quite rudimentary chassis tests, while others came to much more exciting conclusion – this was a new 911 Safari.

We thought it best to stay on the fence, and truthfully we're still there. But this newly disguised, and unequivocally odd looking 992 would appear to point to something a little more notable than just an ABS test hack. Look at the rear spoiler, for example, one not yet seen on any other variant, mated to what are obviously bespoke rear arch extensions and higher profile tyres. Clearly it is still a 911, though the evidence is mounting up for a new derivative rather than just a development tool. So what could it be?

Of course, everyone loves the idea of a Safari. The off-road 911 concept has been toyed with in various forms over the decades, including one PHer's 300,000-mile 996, and most recently with this year's Ruf Rodeo Concept. Porsche's famed durability, combined with a shape that really does seem to suit a rally overhaul, has made the Safari-style build a popular one. There's historical significance with this new car, too; should it happen as a 2022 model, as is being widely tipped, that would be 50 years since a 911 first entered the Safari the old East African Safari Rally. In 1972, it placed second, a finish that would be repeated in 1974 and 1978.

Beyond the appealing heritage, a 911 in the Safari mould would doubtless have commercial validity. There's the obvious point that the market can seemingly never get enough of limited edition 911s. But consider as well how popular four-wheel drive 911s are, both in Britain and further afield; with additional ground clearance it becomes even more usable, and so those in even colder climes would never have to swap from their 911 to a 4×4 for the winter. Wishful thinking, perhaps – but no one should doubt the existence of a few hundred buyers around the globe with a need (or, just as importantly, a want) for a truly all-seasons 911.

Nobody knows for certain, though. Or not yet at any rate. While clearly an intriguing idea, the 992 is hardly in need of an image or sales boost. And are there really enough people keen on the idea of a Safari to cover the cost of developing one? As we keep being reminded, this could just be testing out parts for an update or even a mule for something completely different. But we live in hope that it's something far more interesting.

Image credit | S.Baldauf/S.B.Medien

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