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Mike Stevens | Jul 6, 2010

While the 2011 Citroen DS3 hatch is scheduled to make its Australian debut next month, Citroen has this week unveiled the 2011 DS3 R3 rally car, built to the FIA's new Group R3T formula.

Looking for all intents and purposes like a regular DS3 given the once-over by an overzealous enthusiast, it's what is inside and underneath the DS3 R3 that sets it apart as a true rally contender.

Ensconced in a reinforced shell with a welded, multi-point roll cage, rally competitors driving the DS3 R3 will be propelled by an upgraded 1.6 litre turbocharged inline-four developing 156kW and 350Nm of torque - up from the 116kW/240 Nm of the regular DS3 and even the 150kW/275Nm of the special DS3 Racing.

While the engine utilises the same intake/exhaust manifolds, turbocharger, injectors and pumps featured in the production DS3 Racing, the R3 gets custom air filter, camshaft, pistons, connecting rods and flywheel, all developed specifically for racing purposes.

The highly-tuned engine is paired with a six-speed sequential transmission not unlike that featured in most WRC cars, and Citroen says drivers of the DS3 R3 can look forward to gear changes twice as fast as a regular manual transmission.

Among the DS3 R3's other race-specific features and modifications is a redesigned suspension arrangement, high-performance brake system, 17x7-inch tarmac rally wheels and 15x6-inch gravel wheels.

Specific to the Group R3T regulations, the DS3 R3 weighs in at 1230kg with its driver (no kerb weight has been offered) on board.

The Citroen DS3 R3 will be available in Europe later this year from Citroen Racing, and Australian hopefuls will likely need to contact their local dealer to find out just how much shipping one of these track-only hatches will set them back.

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