The latest trend is introducing sports cars that can be enjoyed all year long. Here are the off-roading sports cars coming out, plus some we’d like to see!
Having a high-performance sports car is exhilarating. 0 to 60 mph in under 3 seconds, a wonderfully tuned experience that competently handles the curves at high speeds, and some of the coolest automotive designs ever conceived. The only problem is that these sports cars are only feasibly drivable during those dry summer days. Pushing a rear-wheel drive sports car on wet, snowy, or unpaved roads is just asking for trouble. These cars were meant for speeding around places like the Nürburgring, not traversing some snow packed trail. That is, until now.
The car enthusiast world has always loved the idea of a rally ready sports car being brought to market that can shred around winding roads no matter the conditions. There have even been numerous fan renderings of what famous nameplates would look like with some bigger tires, a higher suspension, and all the other off-road goodies one would expect. Well, these fans can now rejoice as their dream cars are becoming reality. Porsche and Lamborghini have come to market with high-end sports cars that can push themselves all year long and even venture off those smooth roads for something a bit more aggressive. Let’s take a quick look at these off-roading sports cars and even a couple of other names we’d like to see hop on the blossoming trend.
The Porsche 911 had its time in the rally racing spotlight back when it won the 1984 Paris-Dakar Rally. That historic racer car was the first use of AWD in a Porsche 911 and has stood as an icon for nearly 40 years since its appearance. Porsche has finally given that historic 911 the recognition it deserves by providing the Porsche 911 Dakar to the public for 2023.
The Porsche 911 Dakar takes the sports car platform and gives it a bit of a lift, installs some Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus tires, and swaps in an AWD drivetrain. Furthering its overlanding readiness are the additional accessories available like a roof rack, roof tent, and other rally goodies. The engine powering this new venture is a twin-turbocharged 3.0L flat-six engine that generates 473 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. Coupled with the 8-speed PDK transmission and AWD, Porsche says the 911 Dakar is able to speed off from 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds.
The 911 Dakar also comes available with a special livery package that pays tribute to that winning 1984 Porsche 911 design from the Paris-Dakar Rally. The only noticeable change to the tribute design from the original is the replacement of “Rothmans” with “Roughroads”. Only 2,500 of these off-roading Porsche 911s will be available with a starting price of $223,450. That’s a decent amount of cash, but this may be your only shot at a Porsche like this.
People have always loved the idea of an off-road Lamborghini sports car, and Lamborghini themselves even brought about a concept back in 2019 of one. Well, the time is here. We finally get to see a production off-road Lamborghini and it’s called the Huracán Sterrato. It’s essentially a Huracán STO that’s been given LED rally lighting at the front, roof rails, rugged fenders, and had most of its aero components stripped away.
Lamborghini also changed necessary components to the Huracán Sterrato to make it truly off-road worthy. They’ve installed an AWD drivetrain Bridgestone Dueler All Terrain tires, added a 1.7-inch lift, tuned the suspension to be soft and work with electromagnetic shock absorbers, widened the track at both axles over an inch, and added underbody protection. The 5.2L V10 engine puts out 610 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque. That power is directed through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission to all four wheels allowing it to make a 0 to 60 mph time of 3.4 seconds.
Lamborghini plans to limit the Huracán Sterrato production to 1,499 units. Based off pricing announced for the European market, we can expect this off-road sports car to start somewhere around $270,000. If ever there was a Lamborghini car that exemplified their bull logo, it’d be this.
With the idea of making off-road sports car the norm, we figured we’d look at a couple different models we’d like to see hit the dirt. While it’s unlikely that any of these cars will actually see the same treatment that the 911 and Huracán have, it’s fun to imagine. Make sure to let us know of any other sports cars you’d like to see have a production off-road variant.
Alright, the Corvette isn’t exactly going truly “off-road” quite yet, but the E-Ray is a step in the right direction. The all-new Corvette E-ray is the first ever hybrid and first ever AWD version of the historic sports car. It features a 6.2L LT2 V8 making 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque powering the rear wheels and an electric motor over the front axle powering the front wheels making an additional 160 horsepower and 125 lb-ft torque. This e-AWD setup in the Corvette E-Ray allows it to achieve a 0 to 60 mph time of 2.5 seconds, making it the fastest model in the Corvette’s history.
The Corvette E-Ray isn’t ready to tackle sand dunes of the Dakar Rally, but it has shown capable driving over snowy roads. Chevrolet states that the Corvette E-Ray should be able to traverse roads with up to four inches of snow. The company has also released footage featuring the sports car kicking up some fresh powder as it flies around snow packed corners. We can only hope that Chevrolet Performance is already working on a Z71 off-road package to be unveiled in the coming months. Something that’d tack on a front bumper with a better approach angle, a metal skid plate, some bigger tires, and an off-road tuned suspension that provides a bit more lift.
Nissan has just unveiled a refresh of their GT-R and while it does look nice, some fans were let down. “Godzilla” is already a high-speed fiend on the road, so why not take it off the pavement and show that the GT-R is an all-around legend no matter the terrain? Nissan just needs to make a couple of tweaks to the new model and bring the fans the GT-Rally. Essentially, this is just a Nissan GT-R that’s been given a new off-road tuned suspension with extra lift and then had a couple of rally accessories to it. Stuff like all terrain tires, rally mud flaps, and maybe some unique lighting equipment. Not only would this get the car community excited, but we could see Nissan gain some added motorsports fandom if they entered this beast in rally and rallycross racing.
If Lamborghini is taking things off-road, Ferrari should be soon to follow. The two Italian auto manufacturers have been butting heads for a long while now, so Ferrari may want to bring some competition to the market to pit against the Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato. How about taking a model like the Ferrari SF90 Stradale that already incorporates AWD and making necessary adjustments to hit the dirt. First, have to lose that big front splitter to get a better approach angle. Then maybe incorporate the handling from that Purosangue SUV coming soon to give it a little lift and that adaptive suspension for more than just road use, but still being able to let loose on the road like a Ferrari should. Last pieces of the puzzle are some knobbier tires, rallying accessories, throw on a lightbar, and then label it something like the “Fuoristrada” (Italian for off-road).
The Bugatti Chiron is the one of the fastest and most powerful production cars in the world, but that statement only holds true when it’s pushed on an open stretch of even road. Bring the Chiron off the pavement and it will have a tough time traversing at a slow speed let alone top speeds. With a nearly $3 million price tag, it may seem ludicrous to even think of taking this super car off-road. To that I say, why not? The wildly rich want vehicles that hardly anyone can get their hands on while also being able to boast about how truly spectacular the vehicle is. Producing a limited run of rally-ready Chirons would definitely fit that bill.
Get that 16-cylinder engine powering four wheels wrapped with all terrain tires. Forget that road hugging handling, replace it with a highly engineered suspension that can take a jump in stride. Throw on some fender flares to extenuate the ruggedness of this Chiron redesign. Maybe even give it a snorkel or something. In reality, will we ever see a Bugatti Chiron like this? Probably not. Could Bugatti feasibly make an off-road sports car that rivals all others though? Of course!