Sebastien Ogier has labelled Volkswagen's new hydraulically activated gearbox as 'real progress' as he prepares to begin the defence of his World Rally Championship crown in Monte Carlo.

A dominant title winner in 2013 and 2014 with VW, Ogier heads into the new season looking to make it a hat-trick of championship victories at the wheel of the Polo R WRC, which was unveiled sporting a new livery for 2015 during a presentation in Germany.

Developments for the second generation Polo under the skin are headlined by a new hydraulically activated gearbox, which will be controlled by a paddle on the steering column, an innovation that Ogier believes will continue to give VW an edge over its rivals.

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"I am very optimistic that the new car will get off to just as good a start as its predecessor," he said. "We have done a lot of testing and we drivers have worked very closely with the engineers. We put a lot of effort into developing the new shift paddle, which represents real progress."

Looking forward, Ogier is confident the new evolution Polo R WRC will remain the car to beat having won all-but-one of the 2014 WRC events.

"We are looking forward to the new season. It will be exciting to see how we fare against the other teams. The tests have gone well so far, and our engineers have done a good job. The Polo R WRC is even better than it was before."