group b or rally1 comparison

Why Do I Love Remembering Group B Rally Cars?

I am not the only one. The phenomenon of Group B rally cars is linked to the golden era of the FIA World Rally Championship. Despite the short lifespan from 1982-1986, Lancia Delta S4, Peugeot 205 T16, MG Metro 6R4, and Audi Quattro S1 E2 still have a magnificent power to charm everyone from spectators to professional drivers. It has been almost 4o years, but we still remember the Group B rally cars. What’s their magic? Here are my two cents on the matter, and it’s not because the past was better. 

So, I didn’t catch those five years that Group B existed, but I know about it from movies, books, and games. In my childhood, I spent hours playing in WRC, Richard Burns, and Colin McRae Rally. However, my nostalgia is nothing compared to those who have seen these speed monsters in action. 

To clarify what is so special about Group B rally cars, I think it is better to compare one of them, like the Audi Quattro S1 E2, with one of the modern Rally1 car groups, the Toyota GR Yaris. There are reasons why we like to think back to the 1980s. Which one is better? Well, let’s try to find it out.

Progressive vs. Exclusive: Are Rally1 Cars Faster Than Group B?

It all depends. 

Despite being one of the most debated topics, there is still no direct answer as to which are faster, Group B or Rally1 cars, because the former has a higher top speed, while the latter has better overall performance. Let’s get into the details. 

Comparing the speeds of Group B and Rally1 cars

On the one hand, Group B vehicles were unsafe, and after a few incidents, it was banned by the FIA in 1986. On the other hand, it set the gold standard for what a rally car should be and what fans want to see.

Thus, greatest WRC cars* like the Audi Quattro S1 E2 were ideal over the years until the WRC type appeared in 1997, and only the arrival of the hybrid Rally1 car in 2022 changed the situation. 

However, neither the WRC nor the Rally1 have taken Group B off the top, and the 200 km/h mark still limits the current speeds in rallying.

Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville achieved one of the last WRC speed records in the 2022 Rally Safari. At the wheel of the I20N Rally1, he reached 176 km/h. With a maximum of 201 km/h for the Toyota GR Yaris Rally1the top speed in the WRC rarely reaches 210 km/h.

That’s nothing compared to the Audi Quattro S1 E2, which could go over 220 km/h. However, that wasn’t the limit, as some of the Group’s representatives, such as the Ford RS 200, topped 250km/h and went even faster!

How fast were the Group B rally cars? In short, over 50km/h faster than Rally1. Because of their astonishing velocity, I like to think back to Group B rally cars, but that’s not all. 

*Do not confuse with the terms: ‘WRC car’ is a type of car from 1997 until 2022, but also is the general name of cars racing in the FIA World Rally Championship.

toyota gr yaris rally car vs group b rally cars
Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID in 2024 FIA World Rally Championship (4)” by Tokumeigakarinoaoshima is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

How Much HP Did Group B Cars Have Comparing To Rally1?

A second reason for my nostalgia for Group B rally cars is their raw power. However, comparing the horsepower of B and Rally1 cars is problematic. Here is why. 

Powered by a 2.110 cc turbocharged I5 engine, the Audi Quattro S1 E2  showcased an astounding 473 horsepower

On the other hand, the Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 uses a 1,600 cc turbocharged I4 hybrid that showcases 380 hp

At this point, Toyota GR Yaris Rally1’s filling has less than 20% of what the Audi Quattro S1 E2 could do! 

However, the Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 has a 100 kW electric motor that adds 134 hp, so the manufacturer promises over 500 hp

But the truth is that both power units aren’t used simultaneously together at full throttle. Often, the electric motor supports the engine’s power after the driver has reached the required speed.

For argument’s sake, let’s say the Yaris Rally1’s horsepower is around 400 hp, and if you keep in mind there was no cutting-edge technology in 1986, the Audi Quattro S1 E2’s 473 hp is staggering, or feel the difference, as they say.

audi quattro group b comparison with wrc car
Audi quattro Group B model year 1983” by Audi Sverige is licensed under CC BY 3.0

What About the Acceleration Of Group B And Rally1 Cars?

Go further. 

Hyundai Motorsport aims for their I20N Rally1 to accelerate for 100 km/h in less than 4 seconds, while Toyota’s GR Yaris Rally1 reaches the same a bit longer – about 5 seconds

So, how long do you think it would take the Audi Quattro S1 E2 to reach 100 km/h if the cars didn’t have any electronic gadgets? Four, five, or six seconds? 

You wonder, but just for 3 seconds! 

So, that is why rally fans call Group B rally cars the raw power! 

However, generally, Rally Group B is not faster than Rally1.

Why So?

The answer lies in the technologies of the Rally1 cars. The improved aerodynamics, electronics, and many other gadgets allow the Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 to complete the same route’s stage faster than the Audi Quattro S1 E2 due to its better overall performance.

If you put them both on a 3 km straight line, the Quattro might overtake the Yaris in the middle of the distance. To go around rough bends, the Yaris takes over as its spec is more ‘responsive.’

Did The Group B Rally Сars Have The Best Specs?

Definitely!

The modern Rally1 cars are the closest to Group B, so the specifications are very close in length, height, and width, although, in terms of ideal index, the Group B rally cars take over again. 

The Audi Quattro S1 E2 and the Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 car have the same length of 4.3 meters, weight of 1.8 meters, and almost the same height of 1.5 meters for the Yaris and 1.4 for the Quattro. 

The key difference comes in their racing weight

Despite the standard of about 1200 kg, Audi had reduced it, reaching 1100 kg, and even sought 960 kg as a minimum in the 1986 WRC rules! On the other hand, the minimum weight of the Toyota car is 1260 kg. That says it all.

Besides, the Quattro S1 E2 had a more compact wheelbase – 2.2 meters, while the GR Yaris currently has 2.6 meters. 

So racing shapes and brutal looks are the third reason to be nostalgic about Group B rally cars because it was ahead of its time; ideal, if you will. 

However, superpower and amazing speed require the most driving skills as much as you can imagine any of today’s drivers trying their skills at the wheel of a Group B car just to be sure it will be more challenging.

toyota gr yaris rally1 or audi quattro group b
Toyota 2023 RE” by Kasepats is licensed under CC CC0 1.0

Did The Group B Rally Cars Require More Racer’s Skills?

It depends. 

There are many disputes around because, comparing Group B and Rally1 cars, the latter have many electrical devices that play a worthy role. For example, a hybrid power engine works worse in hot weather and dust, causing it to require the driver to maintain specific acquisition to avoid technical problems.  

However, it’s not fraught with risks that were common in the time of Group B.

So, you cannot convince me back because I think driving Group B rally cars is more demanding than Rally1. Let me explain my reasons.

First is the lack of electronics that allowed the Audi Quattro S1 E2 to be a ‘hand-made vehicle,’ as many options drivers controlled manually.  

Secondly, drivers didn’t use as many safety devices because HANS didn’t come out until 2005. It made the race dangerous, so the driver didn’t have the option for the mistake, which could cost too much.

Thirdly, Group B rally cars were faster and more powerful, so maintaining a speed over 200 km/h was more demanding as drivers engaged human skills above the limits. 

In short, rallying in the 1980s was like a separate craftsmanship. Therefore, the drivers like Walter Röhrl, Stig Blomqvist, and Juha Kankkunen are recognized to be great racing athletes. 

A Something Special Behind The Group B Rally Cars

I have noticed that many rally fans like to think back to the 1980s for personal reasons. 

Mine is related to the game console, but my hidden reason is that Group B rally cars had more in common with their road versions. Why, you may ask, as the modern Toyota GR Yaris sports hybrid has similar patterns to its rallying comrade? 

Perhaps it is only me, but rally cars of the golden era of FIA WRC were flexible for upgrades so each one could feel more common with rally drivers. 

The cars competing in the WRC should pass the regulations to be approved, so additional modifications are forbidden. 

Group B rally cars also passed the FIA check, but the rules allowed them to upgrade the vehicles. 

In short, the rally sport of the past was like craftsmanship: the cars were like constructors, causing it to be a truly unique and exciting era in the sport. And yes, it was dangerous.

group b or rally1 comparison
1986 Toyota Celica Coupe GT-TS TwinCam Turbo Group B Rally Car” by Rutger van der Maar is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Takeaways

Rally Group B cars hide specific magic under their shapes, as powerful as rally fans. Even those who didn’t catch their time love to remember these raw power vehicles. I’m no exception. 

Were they better overall? The truth is yes. 

With a weight of less than 1000 kg, a speed of over 250 km/h, and a power of almost 500 hp, the Audi Quattro S1 E2 looks better than the modern Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 car. 

These cars were way ahead of their time. That was their biggest problem because safety improvements didn’t keep up.

It makes me think that if not for the safety issue, Group B cars could make the WRC more popular than Formula 1 or IndyCar.  

On the other hand, it makes rallying dangerous and relies so much on driving skills that if you compare today’s rally drivers with those who raced 40 years ago, the latter would be faster. 

Besides the evidence of the racing advantage, I think we like to remember these cars for a personal reason, often related to a time of nostalgia and romance. It was the time when the sport was at its most exciting and dangerous. 

So, the era of Group B has passed, leaving a void that no other type of rally car has been able to fill. But this is about the past being better, which is another story. 

References and Helpful Resources