Sports cars are on the road

Sports cars are on the road


Athletes on stilts

Sports cars are on the road

Two ships: the new Porsche 911 Dakar passes behind its ancestor – a rally car from the 1980s.

Koslowskiphoto 2022/Porsche AG/dpa-tmn

Porsche Cayenne, Lamborghini Urus, Bentley Bentayga – SUVs from sports car manufacturers have been stealing the show from the base models for a long time. Now the first hip flasks are shot the other way around.

Dust on the lip, dirt on the profile and dirt on the paint – when Porsche published the first images of the latest version of the 911 a few weeks ago, there wasn’t much of the usual shine to be seen.

Although such displays of hp are usually presented in the best possible way, the Swabians did not even clean this car before shooting. But of course that was not carelessness, but a serious calculation.

After all, the cloth was not pulled by any other 911 for the race track at the premiere, but with the first true sports car for the mogul slope: With deep tires and increased ground clearance, the 911 Dakar is reminiscent of a rally . the race that the Swabians used with them on a trip around the African continent in the 1980s.

Porsche wants to build the Dakar 2,500 times

Unlike in the past, the racer is now also a target for customers. From summer, with prices starting at 222,020 euros, anyone can plow through the offroad with a 353 kW/480 hp sports car on the pole.

Even if Porsche only wants to build the Dakar 2500, this car has symbolic meaning. Because 20 years after the Swabians were the first sports car manufacturer to bring an off-road vehicle to the market and have strayed far from their roots, the pendulum is now swinging back a bit. And they are not alone in this.

Lamborghini also turns the hip flask into a remote roadster

Sister brand Lamborghini, which currently sells no cars other than the Urus SUV, is joining the movement to counter the tests. The Italians steal the Huracan and put it in 1499 copies as the Sterrato.

The athlete gets a good space of four centimeters above the ground, a wide track, plastic boards along the wheel arches and belt line, and two additional additional lights on the hood. There are also new air intakes on the roof. At the back, the 5.2-liter V10 engine is still blazing, but its output has been slightly bumped – up to 449 kW/610 hp.

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What design experts have to say about sports cars and off-road look

Is that just an attempt to get more money out of an extended model family with little effort? Or is there more behind it?

In any case, design professor Lutz Fügener from the Hof University of Applied Sciences can certainly gain something from this concept. And in several respects:

  • Aesthetics, because the down-to-earth perspective is good for most decorated cars and because a sports car that has proven itself off-road is always better than an SUV, no matter how well-designed, in terms of its proportions and shape.
  • Practical because protective equipment and elevators can increase the value of use and the price in the form of poor aerodynamics is small.
  • Economically, because the world has also become more difficult for sports car manufacturers, and they find new arguments for their classic models when a flood of new e-sports cars hit their ears on the road.

Slowly? Yes – at least for supercars

Sports cars on the pole are literally conquering new, more rugged terrain and thus new buyer groups. Even with regard to the possible speed limit, this extension seems far-fetched for Fügener, because – at least in this country – there is no reason for many to buy a fast car.

And off-road racing cars are always slower than their production counterparts: Porsche limits the Dakar to 240 instead of 309 kilometers per hour (km/h) and Lamborghini limits the Sterrato to 260 instead of 325 km/h.

Not everyone is excited

But there are also opposing voices – for example from Cologne design professor and PS philosopher Paolo Tumminelli. One can see a closed sports car as a necessary consequence of increased traffic frequency, speed bumps and potholes: in this sense, a cross between an SUV and a sports car is a modern way to deal with the ravages of the open road. .

But at the same time he sees it as a new sign of the inability of the horse power industry to develop a meaningful vision for a social, economic and ecological vehicle. Instead, the car is celebrated here as the toy of a pseudo-elite society.

Although their assessments are different, both experts agree on one thing: the idea of ​​a sports car on stilts is not as new as the developers like to make it out to be: Fügener sees it as a logical continuation of what happened. cars like Audi Allroad or Volvo Cross Country have started. You put rubber boots on the car, put them a little higher, cover it with plastic and give it to rough roads and against minor damage.

Lancia Stratos with daring subjects

And Tumminelli thinks first and foremost of the original Safari Porsches, the 1973 Lancia Stratos, and more recently the Italdesign research Parcours that transformed the 2013 Lamborghini Gallardo into an SUV.

At that time, the VW group did not dare to mass produce, says Tumminelli. But ten years later, Lamborghini and Porsche suddenly woke up and recreated their past. Although the design professor Fuenger admits that cars like the Dakar and the Sterrato only occupy a small part: But the attention and therefore the potential to appeal to mass-produced products is definitely there.

If the cars are successful, similar concepts will probably soon also appear in lower-priced, higher-volume vehicles, Fueger suspects: Perhaps a long-awaited alternative to the now-ruling luxury SUV is emerging.