The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC has taken to gravel and tarmac already ahead of its entry into the 2017 World Rally Championship.
The car, which was revealed earlier this month at Italy's Monza racing circuit, is expected to be a front-running contender in next year’s rejuvenated season. It replaces the now-retired Hyundai i20 WRC.
The new three-door i20 Coupe WRC is described as a heavy evolution of the outgoing car, using the same basic structure as 2016’s five-door i20 but conforming to the WRC's less restrictive engine and aerodynamic regulations for 2017.
The i20 Coupe WRC has a much larger rear wing and the front bumper works the air significantly harder than before with large, swooping winglets. The car's 1.6-litre engine also has a larger restrictor – up from 33mm to 36mm in diameter – so produces 376bhp, significantly more than the 2016 car’s 330bhp.
Drive is sent to all four wheels through a six-speed paddle-shift manual gearbox as before, but the drivers can now adjust the percentage of torque sent to each end using a new active central differential.
When asked how much difference the upgraded drivetrain of the 2017 car would have on performance at the car's launch, both the drivers and team leaders said straight-line speed would improve, but it wouldn’t necessarily be noticeable to spectators.
However, all agreed that the new car’s bigger aerodynamic package would make a large difference to pace, helping the 2017 i20 Coupe WRC to cut its stage times by around 1sec per kilometre.
Hyundai Motorsport team principal Michel Nandan said: “[This new era] is 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.”
Hyundai Motorsport president Gyoo-Heon Choi added: “We aim to be champion.