The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team unveiled its 2017 challenger, the C3 WRC, in Abu Dhabi this afternoon – with team boss Yves Matton stating he wants the car to be winning rallies next season.
The French squad is the last of the 2017 manufacturers to reveal how it has interpreted the new technical regulations that come into force from January's Rallye Monte-Carlo and have dramatically changed the look and performance of the latest generation World Rally Cars.
Having only completed a selected programme of events in 2016, Citroën is returning to WRC action in a full-time capacity next season and the team has high hopes that the new C3 WRC will catapult it back into regular rally-winning contention so it can add to its haul of 96 rally wins and eight manufacturers' titles.
"In 2017, we want to win races in normal conditions, by beating our competitors," Matton said. "And then in 2018, our goal is to bring home at least one of the world titles."
The exciting changes to the 2017 WRC technical regulations were one of the catalysts that convinced Citroën to return to the series with its new C3 model.
Matton said: "At first glance, you could easily think that this just a major upgrade to the previous regulations. But it's much more than that: the increase in engine power, the growing influence of aerodynamics and the return of the centrally-controlled differential are the three major changes.
"We have applied our unique expertise on these three points, derived from our previous World Rally Cars and our recent experience in track racing. That has helped us to go quicker than we might otherwise have been able and above all, to go further in our thinking."
Citroën's eye-catching new C3 WRC will go up against equally-stunning cars from M-Sport, Hyundai and Toyota on the 13-round WRC calendar next season and many are predicting the championship will provide a spectacular show in 2017, reminiscent of the Gp B era that made the WRC a must-watch series in the mid-1980s.
Comparing the latest regulations to those during the Gp B period, Matton said: "The C3 WRC certainly recalls the cars that enthralled a generation of rally enthusiasts, including me. Thirty years on, fortunately everything has changed, especially in terms of safety.
"But the sense that the drivers will need to tame an aggressive, roaring beast is something that we will certainly see next season. When I saw Kris Meeke [the team's lead driver] drive the car for the first time in testing, I said to myself that we had achieved our goal. There is an extremely spectacular side to this new generation of WRCs."
The C3 WRC wears an aggressive aero package that fully exploits next year's bodywork regulations.
Underneath Citroën’s characteristic two-tier front lights, the front bumper has a splitter and winglets to generate downforce and reduce understeer. Air intakes supply cool air to the radiator, the turbo intercooler and the brakes while hot air is drawn out by scoops on the bonnet and at the bottom of the front wings.
The air vents located on the rear doors are used to cool the brakes. Like at the front, hot air exits via the bottom of the wings.
The rear end is dominated by a huge, two-element rear wing that consists of a lower 'shovel' and a complex upper level. Underneath, the rear bumper has been designed to quickly spit out gravel and snow on loose surfaces.
Under the bonnet is a four-cylinder 1.6-litre direct injection turbo engine based on the unit from Citroën's C-Elysée WTCC car. With the new WRC regulation 36mm turbo restrictor, it produces about 380bhp.
The four-wheel drive transmission has also undergone a major change, with the return of an active centre differential, while suspension changes include longer travel and geometry that will be different in the car's asphalt and gravel versions.