A modern Safari? Porsche testing high-riding 911

Perhaps the best sign the crossover craze has taken a step too far, Porsche is out testing a high-riding 911.

Porsche hasn’t confirmed plans to launch a high-riding 911, though the automaker’s sales and marketing chief, Detlev von Platen, said in a 2018 interview that such a car “could be a good idea.” He even said such a car could be launched as a limited-edition model.

High-riding Porsche 911 prototype spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

High-riding Porsche 911 prototype spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

The testers are riding on much taller suspension than normal. They are also fitted with widened wheel arches and on some of them there is a prominent rear spoiler whose design has never been seen before. Earlier testers featured thick foam lining the wheel arches, a feature typically seen when testing suspension systems. It helps the engineers determine how close the wheels get to the vehicle body. It’s possible the foam was also added to hide whatever suspension setup is being used.

Porsche has been down this road before. Recall, the automaker launched the 911 SC Safari rally car in 1978. Porsche also built a trio of 911-based 953 rally cars which it entered in the Dakar Rally and eventually took home the victory.

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The first all-wheel drive Porsche 911 and winner of the 1984 Paris-Dakar Rally

The first all-wheel drive Porsche 911 and winner of the 1984 Paris-Dakar Rally

The popularity of those early rally cars has led to some companies offering Safari-style conversions for old 911s. Several famous Porsche tuning houses, such as Gemballa, Ruf and Singer, have also teased their own modern successors.

Porsche itself investigated the idea of a modern 911 Safari with a secret concept developed in 2012. Known as the 911 Vision Safari, the concept was based on the 991-generation 911 and never ended up receiving the green light for production. It looks like this won’t be the case with the current 992-generation 911.

Porsche 911 Vision Safari (2012)

Porsche 911 Vision Safari (2012)

The 911 Vision Safari concept featured raised suspension and flared wheel arches, just like we see on these testers. It also had underbody protection and roof-mounted lights.

A Safari-style 911 from Porsche would likely be aimed at buyers in markets like China and Russia, where drivers are often faced with poor road conditions that make it difficult to daily a low-slung sports car, hence the popularity of performance SUVs in those markets. We’re sure a few would turn up in the United States, too, given the popularity of high-riding models here. Heck, it could even prove popular in Porsche’s home market of Germany where parking with two wheels up on the curb is often necessary. Currently we expect the car to be revealed in 2022 as a 2023 model.

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