Porsche has built its reputation on sporty little numbers that drive fast, look good, and make your neighbors green with envy. But there's way more to this German brand than initially meets the eye. It may not advertise the fact, but Porsche has made some pretty decent off-roaders over the years. Some of these are specially built for off-roading. Others are road runners with added benefits. But which rank as the best? Despite some stiff competition, we're putting our money behind these five legendary cars. Without further ado, here's our pick of the best off road Porsche models ever made.
1. Porsche Cayenne
It might seem like the Cayenne has been around forever, but in fact, it debuted as recently as 2002. At the time, it seemed that Porsche was taking a massive gamble. This was a brand known for its sports cars. It simply didn't do big, utility vehicles. And yet here was an SUV bearing the Porsche stamp. Would it work? Could Porsche venture into new territory and come away unscathed? It could. Within next to no time, the Cayenne had become one of Porsche's best selling vehicles. In fairness, the Cayenne wasn't the most luxurious SUV around at the time. Neither was it the fastest or most powerful. But no one seemed to mind. It was comfortable, it was spacious, and it could handle off-road driving as easily as it could anything else. Not that many people actually took it off-road. With a starting price of over $60,000, it was way too fancy and expensive to get muddy. Since those early days, people have got a bit more reckless...or maybe just a bit more confident in the Cayenne's ability to handle a bit of dirt. With programs for tackling gravel, mud, sand, and rocks, the Cayenne's off-road prowess has made it the go-to choice for Porsche fans looking for a sleek car capable of handling just about any condition it finds itself in. With models now coming with 340PS of power and a 0-62mph time of 6.2 seconds in base form (upgrade to a Turbo if you're willing to spend a bit extra to go a bit faster), it's a powerful beast that delivers on all fronts.
2. Porsche Macan
As financialexpress.com (www.financialexpress.com/auto/car-news/porsche-macan-and-cayennes-day-out-off-roading-capable-and-mean/917111/) writes, on appearance alone, the Macan could pass for a sports car. But sit inside, and you'll soon realize what a joy of an SUV it is. Take it off-road, and it becomes even more obvious. The cabin is comfortable and spacious. If you had to pick a fault, you could argue that the interior doesn't quite match up to the price tag. But who cares if it's lacking a tiny bit of luxury when it manages to deliver the rest of the goods so well? Capable of transforming from a sedate daily rider to a powerful offroader, it's got enough flexibility to have earned it a mention on Car and Driver's 10 Best (www.caranddriver.com/features/a34690757/10best-2021-porsche-macan/). Combining off-road charm with a sporty aesthetic, the Macan is an all-around crowd-pleaser. Available in a choice of three turbocharged engines, all models come with an all-wheel-drive as standard. Depending on your preference and budget, choose between the basic model with a start price of around $52,100, the Macan S with a start price of $60,200, the Macan GTS with a start price of $72,100, or the Marcan Turbo with a start price of $84,600.
3. Porsche 911 Carrera SC 3.2 4x4 ‘Paris Dakar’ (953)
The Porsche 953 might not have been available commercially for long, but it still ranks as one of the finest off-roaders Porsche has ever made. It was basically a souped-up 911 designed specially to give Porsche an advantage in the 1984 Paris–Dakar Rally. Just a year later, it was replaced by the 959. But despite its brief run, it still managed to make quite the impression. Built around a massively enhanced suspension and a supremely powerful 300 bhp (224 kW), 6-cylinder engine, the 953 was a superb example of how Porsche was capable of delivering way more than nimble sports cars... something that, at the time, very few people would have believed possible.
4. Porsche 959
Did you know the 959 comes with a mysterious G gear? Not many people do, but as autotrader.com notes, that gear is most definitely there, and it's there for a reason. www.autotrader.com/car-news/weird-fact-porsche-959-has-gear-roading-257340 But before that, a bit of history. The 959 was the successor to the 953. When it was first released in 1985, the 959 was the world's fastest street-legal car in production, capable of delivering top speeds of 197 mph - an extraordinary feat in the mid-1980s. As well as being the fastest car on the road, it was also the most technologically advanced, becoming the standard for all sports cars that followed. Even more impressively, it was the first high-performance sports car with an all-wheel drive. So successful did it prove, Porsche would later decide to standardize the use of all-wheel drives across all turbocharged versions of the 911. While the 959 would later be remembered best as a very rare, very expensive sports car, it was originally built as an all-terrain rally car designed to compete in Group B rally racing. While most owners never put it into 'G' gear, doing so would have transformed the car from a sporty little supercar into a rugged offroader. With a flick of a switch, the 959 could handle rivers, mud, rocks, gravel, and any other terrain it found itself in. Unfortunately, its $1 million-plus price tag meant few owners ever put those offroading capabilities to the test.
5. Porsche Safari 911
In fairness, the Safari 911 isn't an official Porsche model. Rather, it's a slightly modified version of the 911 that's become hugely popular with drivers looking for a speedy, stylish off-roader with class to spare. It takes the basics of an air-cooled 911, lifts the suspension, adds some sturdy off-road wheels and tires, fits some underbody protection, and, in the process, creates an offroader that has the luxury, the style and the power of the 911, but the additional benefit of off-roading capabilities. In the last few years, it's become a phenomenon, with numerous shops staking all their reputation (and most of their income) on their Safari builds. They aren't cheap (all that modification comes at a price, while air-cooled 911s don't exactly come for free either), but for off-road drivers looking for something that manages to be fun, safe, luxurious, and rugged all at the same time, it's more than worth the price.
Written by Benjamin Smith
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