This little rapscallion is Hyundai’s new World Rally Championship challenger, the slightly clumsily titled New Generation i20 WRC.
Hyundai rejoined the WRC in 2014 after a 10-year absence with the first Hyundai i20 WRC, which proved to be a competitive package straight out of the box. A maiden in Germany that year was followed by a close-fought battle for second in the Manufacturers’ Championship in 2015 that it ultimately lost by just six points.
The new car has been in development for a year, racking up 8,000km (5,000 miles) of testing, with more to follow before the 2016 season starts in Monte Carlo on 22 January.
Unusually, Hyundai has decided to use the five-door bodyshell instead of the three-door model, as rivals Volkswagen, Citroen and Ford do. That choice was almost certainly dictated by the marketing department; it used to be the case that the more doors there were the less rigid the body was, but modern rollcages are so strong there’s no particular disadvantage.
Even so, it’s a fighty-looking thing. Big ‘arches cover a stretched track, huge extractors are punched in the bonnet, the front intake is huge and the rear spoiler is gigantic. The livery looks good, too.
Power comes from a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbo engine as per the regulations. Hyundai will tell you it produces 300bhp, as all the manufacturers do, but in reality 340bhp will be nearer the mark. A six-speed sequential gearbox and four-wheel-drive dispatch power to the road.
2015 drivers Thierry Neuville, Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon have been retained for the full 14-round 2016 season. Test and development driver Kevin Abbring will contest selected events in a fourth car.
Alongside its WRC campaign, Hyundai Motorsport will spend 2016 developing an R5-spec version of the i20, which will be available to privateers at rather less than half the price of a full-fat WRC machine. And don’t forget that pretty radical changes are being brought in for 2017, so they need to perfect that car, as well.
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By Only Motors