Volkswagen is taking advantage of new regulations to make its highly successful Polo R rally car faster, more powerful, and safer. The updated racer will make its competition debut at the start of the 2017 World Rally Championship (WRC) season.
An official preview sketch published by Volkswagen reveals that the 2017 Polo R stands out from the car that’s taken first overall three years in a row thanks to a completely redesigned body kit. It has longer overhangs on both ends, it’s much wider thanks to more pronounced fender flares on all four corners, and it’s fitted with a massive wing out back. The new look is complemented by a 2017-specific dark blue and white livery.
The Polo carries on with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. However, the new regulations allow manufacturers to increase the size of the turbo’s air restrictor from 34 to 36 millimeters. The four-banger consequently makes 380 horsepower, a roughly 60-pony increase over the current model and 191 horsepower more than the Polo GTI, a range-topping model that earns the honor of being the most powerful series-produced Polo available. Volkswagen isn’t ready to announce performance specifications yet.
WRC officials have reduced the minimum weight of rally cars to just 2,590 pounds, meaning the revised 2017 Polo is about 55 pounds lighter than the 2016 version. Finally, the turbo four’s power is sent to the ground via an electronically controlled center differential.
Related: Volkswagen might build an 80-mpg hybrid hatchback to take on the Prius
Volkswagen will publish more details about the 2017 Polo R in the coming months. WRC fans will get their first chance to check out the updated Polo R in person during next year’s edition of the Monte-Carlo Rally. Of course, the current car isn’t retiring quite yet because there are still ten races left in the 2016 WRC season, including events in Finland, in France, in China, and in Australia.