Ford's new World Rally Championship seems speedy and looks wild.
The 2017 Ford Fiesta WRC has been spotted tearing up Spanish asphalt in pre-season testing, and it looks absolutely wild.
The rulebook has been heavily rewritten for the 2017 World Rally Championship season, allowing much greater aerodynamic freedom. The M-Sport-built Fiesta has sprouted an aggressive front splitter, enormous rear diffuser, and cartoonish rear wing. It also sports huge, boxy fender flares to cover a track that has grown by 55 millimetres.
The 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged engine gains 60 horsepower as well, taking output up to 380 hp. And it sounds fantastic, snarling angrily as air goes in and blaring bassily as the gases escape the exhaust.
Beneath the wings, flares, and camouflage, it isn’t entirely clear if the 2017 Fiesta WRC is based on current, sixth-generation bodyshell, or the upcoming seventh-generation car. According to Autosport it is based on the latter, but matters are complicated by the fact that Ford has yet to announce when the new Fiesta will be launched. The earliest it could debut would be the Detroit Auto Show, just two weeks before the WRC season starts in Monte Carlo.
Unlike its rivals, M-Sport is not a full manufacturer team - Ford provides technical assistance but no financial support. Speaking to Autosport, team boss Malcolm Wilson admitted: “It’s going to be a very expensive car, but it’s beautiful. There’s so much workmanship in it, it looks absolutely lovely. The guys have taken a really big step with this car.”
Taking that step with only a fraction of the resources the Volkswagen, Citroen, Hyundai, and Toyota squads can call on is a huge achievement.
However it does mean M-Sport lags well behind the other teams. Volkswagen has been testing its Polo GTi WRC for over a year, Toyota’s Yaris WRC for not much less time than that, and both the Citroen C3 WRC and Hyundai i20 WRC were first run early this year.
The 2017 WRC season gets underway on January 20 with Rallye Monte-Carlo.