Among the flood of wider, faster World Rally Championship cars being launched, the Ford Fiesta RS WRC stands out as one of the wildest. Prepared by British firm M-Sport, the RS is based on the brand new Fiesta, and takes full advantage of the extra aerodynamic freedom written into the 2017 FIA WRC regulations.
Even without Volkswagen in the paddock, the 2017 World Rally Championship promises to be one of the most exciting in recent memory. Citroen will be facing up with the C3 WRC, Toyota has the Yaris WRC and Hyundai has given the i20 WRC a steroid injection to meet the regulations introduced for next year. All of them produce more downforce than before, and all have more power than before, which should make for more entertaining racing.
On the outside, the RS WRC shares almost nothing with its predecessor. The body shell has a bigger rear wing, more aggressive front splitter, new dive planes and a more dramatic rear diffuser, all in the name of developing more downforce at high speed. Although it can't quite match Group B legends for outright drama, the Fiesta looks much meaner than the subdued (boring) cars we've seen over the past few seasons.
Power comes from a four-cylinder EcoBoost engine pumping out an FIA-mandated 380 hp (283 kW) and 450 Nm (332 lb.ft) of torque. It's hooked up to an all-new hydraulic six-speed sequential gearbox, and the amount of torque being sent to each axle can be tweaked with an active central differential. The car sits on new remote-reservoir dampers with adjustable bump and rebound, and it's stopped by vented brake discs grabbed by monoblock calipers.
A full data-logging system makes it easier for engineers to pin down issues on race day, and screens for the driver and co-driver present crucial info at a glance – important while flying through a forest at more than 150 km/h (93 mph).
The Fiesta RS WRC will make its debut at the Monte Carlo Rally in January.