Wearing a detail-obscuring red patterned camouflage and stamped with the “#TEST1” hashtag, the Citroen WRC car is shown tearing up the gravel roads around the Chateau de Lastours and Fontjoncouse in the south of France.
Although Citroen hasn’t specifically labelled the new rally car as the C3, the fresh design and timing of the new racer all points to the 2017 Citroen C3, which is expected to debut at this year’s Paris motor show.
The new C3 should also have a far sportier design than the older model that was axed in Australia last year - the wider stance and sloping roofline of the WRC car are likely to feature on the production version to some extent, although not quite as exaggerated.
The 2017 Citroen WRC racer is 55mm wider than the current DS3 WRC, thanks to more aerodynamic freedom granted to teams by the FIA’s more lenient regulations.
Under the bonnet, the Citroen WRC is powered by a 1.6-litre direct-injection turbocharged engine, generating about 283kW mated to an all-wheel-drive system.
The new race car is the first step in Citroen’s plan to return to the top of rallying, adding to the manufacturer’s great success last decade that saw French driver Sebastien Loeb win nine successive titles in the old Xsara WRC, C4 WRC and DS 3 WRC racers.
Citroen will continue to face stiff competition from the German manufacturer, after Volkswagen teased sketches of its 2017 Polo R WRC contender last week.
Not much is known about the new 2017 Citroen C3, with only renderings and heavily-disguised test mules for its C3 Picasso MPV companion surfacing over the last year.
The new C3 is, however, expected to debut an all-new modular platform developed with Chinese manufacturer Dongfeng, which will also be shared with the next Peugeot 208.
Stay tuned for more Citroen C3 updates in the lead up to the model’s reveal at the Paris motor show this October.