The 2017 World Rally Championship got underway recently and with it, unveiled the new challengers for the 2017 title. The change in regulations allowed manufacturers to start on a clean slate and they did so by basing their fire breathing rally models on all new road going cars. M-Sport is using the new 2017 Ford Fiesta, Hyundai have the i20 coupe; Citroen ditched the DS3 for the new C3 and Toyota built their aggressively winged car from the new model Yaris.
While the days of road-going rally specials such as the Impreza WRX and Mitsubishi Evolutions are a thing of the past, there are a few ways you can mimic the likes of Ogier, Meeke and Neuville. The new regulations allow for 380bhp turbo charged engines and radical aerodynamics packages, but there are tamer models available on the forecourts.
M-Sport had the unveiling of their new challenger delayed as they had to wait until Ford revealed the new design before the rally monster could be seen. This means however that the 2017 WRC Fiesta is based on the freshest design of the popular supermini.
The next generation Fiesta was unveiled in Cologne with a selection of 1.0-litre EcoBoost engines with outputs of up to 140PS. It comes in a range of versions such as the stylish Titanium, the upmarket Vignale or the sporty ST-Line, with prices from €15,000.
There are 12 colours to choose from and a range of alloy wheels up to 18-inch in size, it will be a stylish little number to drive about; which is expected on sale in 2017. If you can wait a while longer, there is a new generation ST in the pipeline, expected to be on-sale in 2018.
Hyundai i20 Coupe
Hyundai had been doing well with the i20 hatch in the WRC, but made the change to a more inherently sporty model for the next generation rally car. Hyundai haven’t made an out-and-out sports car but rather a stylish and sporty three door hatch. The car is still made to feel refined at city and motorway driving while it is spacious despite losing the back doors.
The most obvious difference between the i20 and the i20 Coupe is the sloping roofline and a floating C-pillar. It does look much more appealing as a car, and shakes any notion of a family car that might be given off by the five door model.
The i20 Coupe isn’t available in Ireland, we have only the regular five-door hatch, but owners in the UK are offered two options of a three cylinder turbo petrol engine; coming in 99 or 118bhp guises.
After extensive testing with the 2016 Yaris, earlier at the Monte Carlo Rally it was unveiled the Toyota’s new racer has a face-lift design. Not expected into showrooms until later in the year, the redesigned model is most notably different with a new shape front bumper and rear light cluster. There is not a lot known about the new car yet, but spy shots suggest a 1.0 litre turbo and larger 1.5 litre petrol replace the 1.33 litre in the previous model. And of course it is presumed that Toyota will offer a hybrid version as well.
There is however plans for a “hot” Yaris in the future; Toyota have yet to give much away regarding spec but they have said there will be “more that 210bhp” and there are hints that it will be named the Yaris Gazoo –after the rally team – which will hopefully bring some pedigree with it.
More information will be known in March when they officially release the design at the Geneva Motor Show.
Taking styling cues from the C4 Cactus and C4 Picasso; the new C3 fits comfortably into the design of modern Citroens. With the AirBump panels and lack of aero, the road car is not as aggressive to look at as the car that Kris Meeke will take around the championship. Emphasis on the road car is on style and unique personalisation rather than speed, with 36 combinations of roof and body colour available; which is paired with a range of petrol and diesel stop/start engines. The design of the car is built around user-friendliness and interactivity to make journeys more enjoyable.
There is no announcement yet if there is to be a special fast edition of the car, but Citroen have in the past had Sebastian Loeb inspired limited editions of rally winners, so we could be driving a C3 by Breen if there is success in the WRC. The new Citroen C3 is on sale now in Ireland from €15,490