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This slidey rally car shows us the next Citroen C3

Next year’s WRC prototype gives a promising hint of the next C3 road car

Citroen has released pictures of the C3 World Rally Championship car being developed for next season. And in doing so, it has given us an idea of what to expect when the road car lands later in 2016.

Expected to launch at the Paris motor show in October, the styling of the new C3 appears to take its inspiration from the C4 Cactus. A promising sign that the French manufacturer is confident that quirky looks are here to stay, then.

A week on from VW’s Polo R concept, the shakedown for Citroen’s 2017 WRC car took place at Château-de-Lastours and Fontjoncouse in France. Test driver Alexandre Bengue was handed the debut outing, although British rally driver Kris Meeke was allowed get behind the wheel soon after.

“After my first run, one of the mechanics filmed the expression on my face,” explained Meeke. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but the big smile on my face spoke volumes about how much I had enjoyed driving the new car.

“Generally speaking, you spend more time waiting around than driving in the first few test sessions,” he continued. “But with this, I was able to rack up the miles and start to explore the set-up options. It was like a dream.”

The WRC is introducing new regulations next which should make the cars faster than they’ve ever been before: engine power has been boosted to the 375bhp mark, while the cars will also be around 25kg lighter than this year’s models.

Citroen will be re-entering the World Rally Championship as a fully-fledged manufacturer in 2017, having only fielded a semi-supported works team for a handful of European rounds this season.

“The team has done a fantastic job to design a car based on the new regulations,” says team boss Yves Matton. “It is very much in line with what we had imagined when we talked about the new regulations, which were devised to make the cars more spectacular.

“All the factors we had wanted to improve – the noise, impression of speed and aggressive design – are already in evidence, even though this was only the car’s very first test outing.”

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