Meet Hyundai’s i20 WRC
Another entrant into the World Rally Championship is fine by us: get ready for 2014
The World Rally Championship always needs more entrants. So be glad here's another: Hyundai. They'll be entering this supernaturally hormonal i20.
Sure, right now Hyundai might not be the nameplate you most naturally associate with popping hissing turbos, or getting big air, or cornering via the driftoteque. But then, you wouldn't have expected how soon and how thoroughly they challenged Europe's best hatches with the new i30.
You wouldn't have expected the Veloster before it happened. This is a name on the move.
When exactly it starts competing isn't sure. The FIA has to give it an entry, and while that might be some of the later 2013 rallies, it might be 2014. Whatever, Hyundai will be diligently testing ‘til they're allowed out in anger. The car will have Hyundai's own 1.6 turbo engine and a proprietary rally gearbox and 4WD.
The team will be based in Germany, but the rally car's basic design and engineering is already being designed in Korea. There are no drivers recruited yet, but we were told: "We know a good driver makes all the difference, and we're in this to win."
And even if you don't follow rallying (why not?) this is good news. Already a team of engineers has been recruited whose specific job is to feed back from the rally car into road cars. Allan Rushforth, chief of Hyundai Europe, tells us they want to have more hot cars. To make them better, they listen to what we say and now they're listening to what rally drivers say.
Some of history's great road cars have come out of rallying - the Escort Cosworth, Lancia Integrale, the Audi Quattro, the Impreza Turbo, the Mitsubishi Evo. A bunch of engineers trying to make another sounds OK to us.