Citroen’s new 2017 C3 WRC machine has been out in testing for the first time and, as you can see in the video above, it looks quick.
The car completed four days of trouble-free running on unforgiving gravel roads in the south of France, with Kris Meeke and Craig Breen at the wheel. The works Citroen squad is sitting out the 2016 World Rally Championship to concentrate on developing the new car – it did the same in 2006 to ready the C4 WRC.
A raft of new regulations take effect for the 2017 season, which it’s hoped will make the cars faster and more spectacular. You can clearly see the more extreme aero and much wider track the new rules stipulate on the C3 WRC; the cars are also set to develop around 380bhp, up from 320bhp.
As for more spectacular, maybe not. A new centre differential is supposed to make the cars more prone to oversteer, but there’s little evidence of that here; the C3 appears to require the same ‘point and shoot’ driving technique as the current generation of cars.
The emergence of the rally car also gives a first glimpse of the new Citroen C3 road car, which is expected to debut at the Paris Motor Show in September. You can’t see much of it under the aero addenda and camouflage, but the narrow band of grille and headlights across the front suggests it will bear a strong resemblance to the C4 Cactus.
Speaking after the test, Meeke said: “It’s always exciting to drive a car for the first time. With the power and the aerodynamic efficiency, these cars are fascinating. After my first run, one of the mechanics filmed the expression on my face. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the big smile on my face spoke volumes about how much I had enjoyed driving the new car!”
He added: “As soon as we set off, I felt that I was driving a genuine rallying machine, a well-designed car. I have been involved in the development of several cars in my time; generally speaking, you spend more time waiting around than driving in the first few test sessions. But with this, I was able to rack up the miles and start to explore the set-up options.”
Volkswagen’s new Polo R WRC has already been seen testing, while various delays have prevented Toyota getting out in its Yaris WRC. Hyundai and M-Sport Ford are expected to start testing their new machinery within weeks.
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By Only Motors