Lopez has been the WTCC Drivers' champion for the past two seasons and has also played a major role in winning Citroen the Manufacturers' championship in 2014 and 2015.
However, the Argentine has been introduced to new opposition in the form of Honda and LADA, the addition of the Polestar Cyan Racing Volvos on the grid from this year, plus the success ballast increase from 60 to 80 kilograms, as serious threats to his recent dominance.
"It's going to be a different year, the competition is going to be really strong," Lopez said. "This year is going to be really tough and it will be really interesting to see what happens, especially as this season we're carrying 80kg of ballast."
Of his rivals, Lopez reckons Honda's decision to add Rob Huff and Norbert Michelisz to its factory line-up will make the Japanese make "really strong". He believes LADA will improve its Vesta to become a "strong team as well". And while Polestar's Volvo S60 is unproven at WTCC level, Lopez has said the Swedish squad may just win its first season.