It’s still early days in the 2016 motorsport season but Volkswagen is already previewing its contender for the 2017 World Rally Championship. There’s a lot at stake as the next season will see Toyota make its return to the sport.

VW has been the dominant force in WRC since it returned in 2013. In fact, it’s won the title every year since. Nevertheless, VW isn’t resting on its laurels. The automaker today revealed the first details on its WRC contender for 2017.

The car will once again be based on the Polo subcompact, though virtually every component will be changed compared to the current car. The 2017 Polo R WRC actually represents a third-generation design for the VW rally car.

In line with the latest regulations, VW has been able to design a car that’s lighter, wider and more powerful than before. The design team was also given more freedom in regards to aerodynamic regulations.

2016 Volkswagen Polo R WRC rally car

2016 Volkswagen Polo R WRC rally car

Compared to the current car, power from the 2017 Polo R WRC’s turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder is  being boosted to 375 horsepower, up from 315 hp. Weight is also being reduced by 25 kilograms, dropping from 1,200 to 1,175 kg. The width of the vehicle is also increasing by 50 millimeters.  

Other key modifications are said to include the addition of an electronic center differential, a broader front spoiler and a larger rear wing. Note, the design is still being tweaked so the appearance of the 2017 Polo R WRC should still change significantly by the start of the new season. The first race will be the Rally Monte Carlo in January, 2017.

‘‘The 2017 WRC regulations include many spectacular technical innovations for the World Rally Championship,’’ said Volkswagen Motorsport boss Jost Capito. ‘‘[The cars] will be considerably more dynamic, whilst at the same time being safer.”

Note, Capito will soon be departing VW. He’s been hired by McLaren to lead its struggling Formula One team. It hasn’t been confirmed when Capito will actually take up the reins at McLaren, though.


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