Why the 2017 cars are being heralded as the next evolution of Group B monsters
Group B’s back. But it’s back with a hint of health and safety. That’s a pretty fair assessment of the next generation of World Rally Cars that broke cover in Monte Carlo last month. It’s certainly the popular view. But what does it actually mean? These cars are going to be streets ahead of Lancia’s Delta S4 or Audi’s quattro in terms of pace, poise and allround performance. So what’s the Group B thing all about?
It’s about the drama. Around the same time that Jean Todt was wondering when rallying went all daytime sensible, he was also asking himself what had happened to the cars. When he left, Peugeot’s hottest hatch was sending 500 horses to a wheel at each corner of a spaceframe chassis, with the whole thing covered in a body made for a bedroom wall.
When he returned, he found a Ford Focus and Citroen C4.
In his mind, something had to change. Seven years on and we’re here.
Here with undoubtedly the most excitinglooking rally cars since the end of 1986. Having watched them all in testing, and live on the Monte, those looks certainly translate to pace on the road. Most impressive are the third and fourthgear corners, where the extra power hooks itself up through the active centre ‘diff to start to generate
some serious downforce from the aero. This performance is delivered with a level of violence not seen since the early days of Group A cars – the ones with 38mm restrictors. And, of course, Group B.
Mid-eighties brutality was tempered with the onset of transmission technology by the mid-nineties, but now there’s real finesse to such a fierceness of pace. Even mud-covered, and before it’s done more than a single rally, the 2017 car is a work of art.
Audi quattro was mighty