Taking Inspiration From WRC Cars Converting From Street To Off Road

    Posted by Ben Davidson about 8 months ago

    A four-wheel drive car is perhaps the most pliable car setup; you could possibly have for the road. With modern computer technology being incorporated into the engine performance chips, and central reactionary systems, finding grip has never been easier. Not only can 4WD cars apply their power onto the road more efficiently than two-wheel drive cars, but cornering in adverse conditions is no longer a daunting challenge. Especially, because public roads are cold, and acquiring traction on wet, muddy, icy roads is a serious health risk for rear-wheel drive cars. The original demand for all-wheel drive vehicles came from armed forces, which wanted to be able to navigate across uneven terrain. Perhaps that’s why manufacturers are rethinking their approach to hot-hatches and bringing them back to their true roots

    The inspiration behind the hot hatch
     
    WRC is the World Rally Championship, where manufacturers pit their family cars against each other in the most electrifying form of racing in the world. Hauling at over 120mph through the African Sahara, or mushing through the mountains of snow in Finland, WRC cars are the epitome of versatility. Hence, the most popular manufacturers in this sport, have shifted their focus onto implementing racing technology into their road cars.

    Grip is king for an off-road excursion
     
    Before even the correct car is chosen, you need the correct items and setup. First and most obviously you need the right off road tires that can make short work of the muddy fields, wet grass, and possess the dexterity to manage the car’s weight across the rough and uneven ground. Certain key traits for the best tires are thick rubber, yet flexible and soft enough to dig into the ground and spread the surface area evenly. Internally, the design structure must be strong and able to withstand bumps and hard impacts, such as from rocks. It also exceeds if the tire is resistant to sharp objects which would otherwise incapacitate the vehicle. Hatchbacks may find that heavy-duty tires are unable to fit in the wheel well, but nevertheless, small profile, thick and wide tires work really well as shown by WRC racing cars.
     
    An example of a good platform
     
    At the moment, the talk of the motoring world is the Ford Focus RS (Rallye Sport). What off-road vehicles need is pure, unadulterated grunt. An angry engine that spits out a monstrous amount of torque; most preferably from lowdown on the rev range. It’s no wonder then that Ford has thought about consumers who may live in rural parts of the country, or maybe even are farmers by trade. The tiny 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine produces 350 foot-pounds of torque at 3200rpm. Seeing as it was designed for the road, that’s actually quite impressive for an Ecoboost engine. Torque steering is kept to a minimum with active front suspension, and power vectoring by the engine computer, so all four wheels communicate with each other for maximum grip.
     
    Transferring from the road
     
    Before venturing off-road, the car will need to be converted from a road-going setup; it’s a basic task that all garages and mechanics will be able to do. The car’s height needs to increase, so the bottom is not scraped and damaged. The platform as aforementioned is important because such vehicles come with adjustable suspension as standard. The shock absorbers and dampers need to be tweaked to cope with the bumps and small mounds of earth popping up out of nowhere. Most sporty four-wheel-drive cars will have the 4WD button fitted as standard, that shifts the car into a more active and responsive mode, and enables various limited slip differential settings.

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