The FIA World Rally Championship has been through some tough times, but things are looking up for the once-great event. Even though Volkswagen has pulled out, a set of new regulations means the cars will be faster, produce more downforce and look meaner for the 2017 season. After announcing its return to rallying in 2015, Toyota has released the car it will be using to take on the WRC in 2017, the Gazoo Racing WRC Yaris.
Toyota is the latest to join the likes of Hyundai and Citroen in developing wilder cars to meet the new WRC regulations debuting next year. Without the ever-dominant Volkswagen owning the podium, the competition has been broken wide open, which could make for a fascinating season.
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Given the strength of competition we're expecting, the WRC Yaris needs to be very good indeed. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes an FIA-specified 380 hp (283 kW) and more than 425 Nm (313 lb.ft) of torque. It'll be hooked up to a six-speed hydraulic gearbox, with power being split between all four wheels by an active central differential. Toyota hasn't released details about how much suspension travel the car will have – apparently, that info is classified – but we do know the brakes will be 300 mm (12 in) units for gravel rallies and 370 mm (14.5 in) units in tarmac events.
Maybe the most impressive thing about the new Yaris WRC is the way it looks. The new rally regulations allow for bigger wings and bodykits, something Toyota has exploited to the max here. Even alongside the pumped-up Hyundai i20 it looks mean, right down to the wing mirrors.
The Yaris WRC will be driven by Jari-Matti Latvalaand and Juho Hänninen when the car debuts at the Monte Carlo Rally in January.