Hyundai i20 to make WRC debut

The Hyundai i20 will enter the World Rally Championship in 2014, with the Korean company set to develop a specially prepared WRC version of the firm’s popular supermini.

Hyundai unveiled the new rakish racer at last week’s 2012 Paris Motor Show to a great reception and wowed the crowds with its compact but powerful new rally contender.

The WRC is one of the toughest motorsport series in the world and the Hyundai i20 has been engineered to overcome extreme terrain and difficult conditions that the vehicles have to face, taking in races such in cold, frozen climates in Sweden and car-breaking boiling hot rallies with the gravel stages of the Acropolis rally in Greece.

Hyundai has unfinished business when it comes to rallying, too. The firm withdrew from the WRC in 2003, competing with its Accent WRC at the time. Now it wants to take the fight to Citroen, Ford and the rest of the field with its new car.

The company began its association with rallying back in ’98, competing in the F2 class of the WRC before graduating to the top flight in 2000.

Current WRC regulations dictate 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engines must be used, so the confirmed entry into the championship for 2014 highlights the possibility for a hot Hyundai i20 road car variant to rival the likes of the MINI Cooper S and Vauxhall Corsa VXR.

With four-wheel drive, plenty of horsepower and a trick gearbox, the Hyundai i20 WRC – and a potential tricked-out road version – will be a serious little pocket rocket.

But don’t confuse the car’s size with a lack of ambition or a lack of performance:

“The World Rally Championship is recognised as one of the most dramatic sporting series on Earth. It’s a spectacle filled with excitement and dynamism − the perfect embodiment of the Hyundai brand,” believes Marketing Director of Hyundai Motor Europe, Mark Hall.

“The WRC also offers the most technologically-diverse challenge for an automotive manufacturer. Our participation will demonstrate Hyundai’s engineering excellence and durability, and will also help to enhance our passenger vehicles in future.”

Reliability is vitally important in rallying and to finish first, first you have to finish. With Hyundai’s excellent road-car reliability record, the firm will condense the dependability and longevity of its customer products and use that same essence in the development of the Hyundai i20 WRC.

Watch out world rallying. Hyundai is back – and how.