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Suburban safari

1 year ago

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David Twohig | Engineer


17 February 2023

I really like the Porsche 911 Dakar. There: I said it. Even before reading Andrew’s review, I was taken with the idea of a jacked-up sports car. Now, this might surprise you. I’m conscious of sometimes over-playing the role of the coldly analytical engineer within these digital pages: constantly advocating smaller footprints, lower masses, less power, smaller wheels and so on – logical, worthy, but slightly boring things; like flossing your teeth.

Yet here I am, publicly supporting a car that would seem to contradict all engineering logic. Sports cars should have a low centre of gravity. They should have the smallest possible tyres. It follows that safari-style sports cars make no technical sense at all. Jacking them up to increase their ground clearance simply raises their CoG, causing them to roll and pitch unnecessarily (the 911 Dakar sits 50mm higher than a Carrera, or 80mm higher in ‘Offroad’ mode).

Big, knobbly tyres on wider wheels usually mean an increase in track (+12mm for the Dakar), as well as greater unsprung mass. The car will inevitably be heavier, too. It’s wanton abuse of the laws of physics, and seemingly illogical from a technical point of view. The engineer in me longs to shout from the rooftops about the inherent evil of this new breed of performance car. They seem to make no sense.

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