Citroën transforms its newest city car into a tire-shredding rally machine

Ronan Glon

Citroën is taking the brand new, third-generation C3 city car racing. The Paris-based company will present the next racer that it will enter in the grueling World Rally Championship (WRC) in a little over a week, during the Paris Auto Show.

The C3 WRC that we’ll see in the French capital is very close to the final model, but it’s still billed as a concept. As is typically the case, all the racer shares with its regular-production counterpart is a name and a handful of minor components, such as lights and trim pieces. The WRC car receives a deep front bumper with a splitter and a wide air dam, flared fenders, side skirts, and a huge roof-mounted wing that provides additional downforce.

Citroën designed the C3 to comply with the new set of WRC regulations that will come into effect next year. Well received by both teams and pilots, the updated regulations give manufacturers more freedom to build cars that are faster, lighter, and more aerodynamic. For spectators, that means races will be even more exciting to watch.

Power for the C3 WRC is provided by a turbocharged 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine rated at 380 horsepower, the maximum allowed by the organizers of the championship. The C3 boasts 80 horses more than the DS3 WRC it’s replacing, and it tips the scale at about 55 pounds less. While that sounds promising on paper, to win the C3 will need to fend off competition from Toyota, which is making a long-awaited return to rallying after a nearly 20-year hiatus, newcomer Hyundai, and Volkswagen.

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The Citroën C3 WRC will make its track debut early next year during the challenging Monte-Carlo Rally held in the south of France. And while Citroën isn’t a name typically associated with rallying, it’s a force to be reckoned with because the company has won no less than eight manufacturer’s titles, and its cars have earned a total of 96 wins.