A World Rally Car is a racing automobile built to the specific regulations set by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and designed for competition in the World Rally Championship (WRC). The cars were introduced in 1997 as a replacement for Group A regulations used in the manufacturers' championship,[1] and were replaced by Group Rally1 in 2022.



A Subaru Impreza WRC2006 being prepared by Prodrive

Between 1997 and 2010, the regulations mandated that World Rally Cars must have been built upon a production car with a minimum production run of 2500 units.[citation needed] A number of modifications could be made including increasing the engine displacement up to 2.0L, forced induction (including an anti-lag system), addition of four wheel drive, fitment of a sequential gearbox, modified suspension layout and attachment points, aerodynamic body modifications, weight reduction to a minimum of 1230 kg and chassis strengthening for greater rigidity.[citation needed] The maximum width was set at 1770 mm while front and rear tracks shouldn't exceed 1550 mm.[citation needed]

Unlike the requirements for the preceding Group A cars, manufacturers were no longer required to build "homologation specials" in order to meet approval.[citation needed] The base model did not need to have all the characteristics of the WRC car, as evidenced from cars such the Peugeot 206, 307, Citroën Xsara, and Škoda Fabia, which during this period had no road car variant with a turbocharged petrol engine or four-wheel-drive.

To limit power, all forced induction cars were fitted with a 34 mm diameter air restrictor before the turbocharger inlet, limiting the airflow to about 10 cubic meters per minute.[citation needed] The restriction was intended to limit power output to 220 kW (300 hp) although some WRC engines were believed to produce around 250–250 kW (330–340 hp).[citation needed] Engine development did not focus on peak power output but towards producing a very wide powerband (or power curve). Typically, power output in excess of 220 kW (300 hp) was available from 3000 rpm to the 7500 rpm maximum, with a peak of 250–250 kW (330–340 hp) at around 5500 rpm.[citation needed] At 2000 rpm (the engine idle speed in "stage" mode) power output was slightly above 150 kW (200 hp).[2]

By 2004, the best cars had ABS, electronic clutch control, paddle-shift, traction control, three active differentials, ride height control with GPS, electronic dampers and active suspension.[3]

For 2005 the maximum width of the WRC cars was increased from 1770 mm to 1800 mm.[4]

In an attempt to cut costs, since 2006 new regulations required mechanical front and rear differentials, while the central differential remained active. Active suspension and water injections were also prohibited.[citation needed] Cars entered by a manufacturer had to be equipped with the same engine for two rallies; further limitations were imposed on the changing of some parts, including suspension, steering, turbochargers, and gearboxes.[citation needed]


Starting in 2011, rules for WRC cars changed to be more restrictive. New regulations were derived from Super 2000 cars with a different aerodynamic kit. The cars could be smaller models (there was no longer a minimum 4 m length) and include a custom-build or production 1600 cm3 direct injection turbo-charged global race engine with a 33 mm (1.3 in) diameter air restrictor and a maximum boost pressure of 2.5 bar (36 psi) absolute.[5][6] This limited torque to about 400 N⋅m (300 lb⋅ft) or less[7]).

Exotic materials (titanium, magnesium, ceramics and composite) were forbidden except when present in the base model.[5] Carbon fibre and aramid fibre were very restricted ("only one layer of fabric is used and is affixed to the visible face of the part"), except for bodywork's side protections where multiple layers of aramid fibre were allowed.[5]

The gear changes must be made with a mechanical linkage system, so paddle-shifters were outlawed.[5] However the system was re-allowed in 2015.[citation needed] There was no center differential (earlier it used to be 3 differentials, with a center/3rd differential included), but the new regulation allows the only front and rear axle differential and a mechanical clutch to disconnect the rear axle during handbrake use (to reduce cost and make the cars' driving style more exciting again for both spectators and TV broadcasts). These two differentials must be mechanical, without electronic control or hydraulic or viscous systems (from 2006 to 2010 the center differential and previously all three could be active[8][citation needed]).

The minimum weight was 1200 kg empty and 1350 kg (1360 kg from 2013) with driver and co-driver (in both cases when measured with only one spare wheel).[5][9]


The 1.6 L turbo-charged global race engine was retained in the 2017 World Rally Car regulations, but the turbo restrictor diameter was increased from 33 mm to 36 mm, increasing the engine's power output from 230 to 280 kW (310 to 380 hp). The minimum empty vehicle weight was decreased by 10 kg but the combined vehicle, crew and spare wheel weight remained at 1360 kg.[10]

Manufacturers were given more freedom to maximise aerodynamic performance, including large brake cooling ducts in fairings forming enlarged wheel arches.[11] Electronically controlled active centre differentials were permitted, while the front and rear differentials remain mechanical.[10]

While 2011 specification World Rally Cars were allowed to compete in 2017, the new World Rally Cars were allowed for use by manufacturers' teams only.[12]


Manufacturer Car From To
France Citroën Xsara WRC 2001 2006
C4 WRC 2007 2010
DS3 WRC 2011 2016
C3 WRC 2017 2019
United States/United Kingdom Ford/M-Sport Escort WRC 1997 1998
Focus RS WRC 1999 2010
Fiesta RS WRC 2011 2016
Fiesta WRC 2017 2021
South Korea Hyundai Accent WRC 2000 2003
i20 WRC 2014 2016
i20 Coupe WRC 2017 2021
United Kingdom MINI John Cooper Works WRC 2011 2012
Japan Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution WRC 2001 2002
Lancer WRC 2004 2005
France Peugeot 206 WRC 1999 2003
307 WRC 2004 2005
Spain SEAT Córdoba WRC 1998 2000
Czech Republic Škoda Octavia WRC 1999 2003
Fabia WRC 2003 2005
Japan Subaru Impreza WRC 1997 2008
Japan Suzuki SX4 WRC 2007 2008
Japan Toyota Corolla WRC 1997 1999
Yaris WRC 2017 2021
Germany Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2013 2016



  1. ^ "WRC History". Suzuki Sport.
  2. ^ "Subaru Rally Engine – Developing a World Rally Car power plant", page 23-30, Race Engine Technology, issue 005, 2004
  3. ^ "Ford technical director explains low-tech approach in WRC cars". theinquirer.net. Incisive Business Media. 2011. Archived from the original on October 23, 2011.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  4. ^ "Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05". Mitsubishi Motors. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Article 255A 2013 - Specific Regulations for Super 2000 (Rallies) / WRC" (PDF). FIA. 1 July 2013.
  6. ^ "Universal Machine - FIA In Motion" (PDF). FIA. November 2009. p. 54.
  7. ^ For instance, officially the Citroën DS3 WRC has 350 N⋅m (35.7 kgf⋅m; 258.1 lb⋅ft) at 3,250rpm.
  8. ^ "Rally of Turkey 2010 – Glossary". Retrieved 2011-02-21.
  9. ^ "Article 255A – 2011 Specific Regulations for Super 2000 (Rallies) / WRC" (PDF). FIA. 11 November 2010.
  11. ^ llluis555 (2017-02-17). "Aerodynamic features of 2017 WRC cars". WRCWings. Retrieved 2022-09-12.
  12. ^ "2017 FIA World Rally Championship Sporting Regulations" (PDF). FIA. 3 February 2017. p. 13.

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