It didn't really pan out like that. As it sought to make spectator and TV coverage easier, it made itself less like rallying of old. Long stages, remote service areas and even entire rallies like the Safari Rally, of Kenya, were dropped. In came more Super Special Stages, single service parks, shorter stages over smaller areas and, with it, as the WRC tried to make itself more easily 'watchable', so it made itself more like rallycross.
In the UK, what was heralded as a brave new era when Channel 4 began terrestrial TV coverage in 2002, which later moved to ITV, eventually shifted to ITV4, then Dave, then ESPN, and then, by 2013, nobody. For most of this decade, the WRC has pulled in four eligible points-scoring manufacturers a season. Between 2000 and 2004, there were seven.
Is it unfair to think that watching WRC, then, became watching fewer cars than you were used to, and not necessarily very interesting ones at that, raced by people you don't know in places you don't care about and largely won by the same man? Perhaps. But there are only so many sports you can follow, right?
I'll admit I haven't watched it a great deal recently. And then the other week this video landed, which features WRC driver Thierry Neuville making a Hyundai i20 do things I had not considered possible. The way it moves but stays flat over rough terrain, the way it lands but doesn't bounce, the way it brakes but doesn't dive, the way it shifts from straight line to turning: about half a dozen times in this clip what I am sure is a certain accident turns into perfect control. The suspension and tyre tech must be off the scale.