The FIA World Rally Championship has faced its fair share of struggles in recent years, but now seems to be on the rebound. Not even the loss of Volkswagen can dampen the excitement about 2017, which will see faster cars with more downforce taking on gravel, snow and tarmac stages worldwide. Hyundai has just released the car it will be using in its search for glory in the coming year, the i20 Coupe WRC.
Hyundai is the latest manufacturer to show off a bigger, faster, meaner car for next year's World Rally Championship (WRC). Citroen, for example, will be taking on the competition with the gorgeous C3 WRC, and Toyota will be reviving its program with the big-winged Yaris WRC. And without the ever-dominant Volkswagen locking out the podium every week, competition should be tight, which could just bring about the most exciting season in recent memory.
With that in mind, the i20 WRC needs to be good. Power from the turbocharged four-cylinder engine is up from 300 hp (224 kW) to 380 hp (283 kW) thanks to a new 36 mm (1.4 inch) turbo restrictor. Hyundai hasn't released exact details about weight, but you can expect the car to be 25 kg (55 lb) lighter than the current model, in line with the new FIA rules about minimum weight.
Also new for 2017 is the dramatic aero kit fitted to the i20. The new WRC regulations allow for a longer front splitter, wider bodywork and a bigger rear spoiler, with the goal of creating more downforce. Although the new cars don't quite look as dramatic as the legends doing the rounds between 1983 and 1986, the changes are certainly a step in the right direction.
"We are heading into a new era for the sport with the biggest change to the regulations for some time," says Team Principle, Michael Nadis. "It's a great new technical challenge and one that we have tackled with enthusiasm. It's an opportunity to put into practice everything we have learned and experienced in the past three seasons. All teams are starting from scratch so we are on equal footing."
The i20 WRC was launched at Monza Racetrack, Italy, and will debut in round one of the 2017 World Rally Championship in Monte Carlo.