Hyundai boss Michel Nandan believes 2017’s new-era World Rally Cars will handle better due to extra width and the return of high-tech transmission components.
Nandan is overseeing the development of the Korean manufacturer’s third i20 World Rally Car in four years. He said an increase in width of up to 55 millimetres would not only make the cars look more purposeful, but would also improve the handing.
“The widening has essentially been done for the look of the car, but the consequence is that we will have more stability in corners,” said Nandan, who is excited by the more macho appearance of next year’s challengers.
“The most obvious thing will be the general look of the car because there is more freedom on the bodywork, more aero and the car looks really more aggressive. This will be the first thing the fans will see and enjoy because the cars will look really, really spectacular."
He also pointed to the return of electronically controlled active centre differentials as good news for both teams and drivers. They will return after being phased out from 2006, although the front and rear units will remain mechanical.
“The fact you have an active centre differential will help drivability and handling, especially in and out of corners. It will help the driver go through and out of a corner more smoothly,” Nandan explained.
“This was a change requested by the manufacturers. With the active centre differential the stress on the driveshafts will be less, so in terms of durability it’s a positive point. It will be possible to set up the handling of the car a bit better, and it will also be easier to adapt the handling depending on the road surface and conditions.”
Next year’s i20 WRC will make its first public appearance on 1 December at Italy’s Monza Rally Show, ahead of its competitive debut at January’s Rallye Monte-Carlo.