Blog : Welcome back Chrysler-Lancia…

Keith Adams

Chrysler Ypsilon: AROnline's must-have car for 2012?
Chrysler Ypsilon: AROnline's must-have car for 2012?

Last week saw the UK launch of the delightful Delta and Ypsilon, and I have to say that after an absence of  17 years, it is absolutely fantastic to see the return of Lancia to Blighty. Lancia’s return to the UK has actually been on the cards for at least three years. And in 2008, it came very close to happening, with plans only being put on ice in the wake of the 2008 banking crisis and subsequent sales-killing recession.

And here we on, three years later – with the economy still struggling – with the Delta and Ypsilon finally making it here. But wearing a Chrysler badge. AROnline is already onside as a Chrysler supporter – we have a number of cars featured wearing the badge (the Horizon, Sunbeam et al), as well as finding its US products some of the most interesting to come from the other side of the pond. After all, who here hasn’t seen a 300C and admired what many people see as a latter-day Rover P5B… or baby Bentley.

But I can’t help but wonder at the brand confusion going on here. Back in January, I blogged on this very matter, and ten months on, I’m still of that opinion – even after seeing the adverts – I can’t see this as a Chrysler. And would buyers in the UK really consider this car afresh instead of looking at it as a badge-engineered Lancia? Perhaps I am too old? Perhaps my heart lies with Lancia, a marque that encapsulates a great deal of what I like in my cars.

What I mean by that is comfortable elegance. And no fear combining wood and light colours inside. Yes – and the marketeers at Chrysler will hate me for saying this – but the Delta and Ypsilon really are the closest cars you can buy new that come to recreating what Rover was trying to achieve with the 75 before the troubles. So what to do? So, I like Chrysler, but love Lancia. And that’s why if I bought an Ypsilon or Delta (and I am considering it!) I’d be on to eBay or one of my many Italian friends about buying a Lancia grille, badges, and steering wheel centre.

But whatever – it’s great to see these cars coming to the UK. Some would say we don’t need more choice in an already crowded mid-market sector, but I’d say we absolutely do. Especially when they come as interesting as this.

Chrysler Delta: what they say

It offers family saloon space in a compact hatchback body. It introduces executive car equipment to a wide market. It features sophisticated technologies that are entirely new to this size of car. And it presents all this at prices, starting at just £16,695, that equal or undercut many less gifted rivals.

With its sophisticated appearance, sumptuous interior and four state-of-the-art engines, the Delta is an accomplished re-entry into the C segment for Chrysler. On sale here now, it provides the sort of interior space expected from a far larger vehicle. Yet a host of all-new electronic driver aids ensures that the Delta is satisfying to drive as well as being very comfortable for both front and rear seat passengers.

Along with its smaller sister, the new Chrysler Ypsilon, Delta marks the resurgence of Chrysler Group LLC, which was formed in 2009 as a strategic alliance with Fiat. Chrysler’s portfolio contains some of Europe’s most recognisable vehicles, including the 300C saloon and top-selling Grand Voyager MPV. Now with the help of Fiat’s experience and knowledge in the small and medium-sized car sectors, Chrysler can infuse compact, more environmentally friendly models with the luxurious character traits of its bigger cars.

Chrylser Ypsilon: what they say

The new Ypsilon, introduced by Chrysler into the UK supermini sector this month, is a mix of segment-leading style, cutting edge technology, eye-catching design and world-class engines. All this is incorporated in a 3.8m long five-door vehicle that’s shorter than most of its rivals.

On sale in the UK now, the Ypsilon certainly isn’t a conservative ‘me-too’ entry into the most hotly contested class of cars in Europe. It’s a premium model in a small car’s body; original, full of character and targeting drivers who appreciate quality, elegance and innovation in equal measure. It marks a resurgence for Chrysler Group LLC which was formed in 2009 as a strategic alliance with Fiat.

Chrysler’s portfolio contains some of Europe’s most recognisable vehicles, including the striking 300C saloon and top-selling Grand Voyager MPV. Now with the help of Fiat’s experience and knowledge in the small and medium-sized car sectors, Chrysler can imbue compact, more environmentally friendly models with the luxurious character traits of its bigger cars.



Keith Adams
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  1. Great couple of Italian hatchbacks, moribund with a badge associated with gangsta-rapper cars and the mini-buses used on The Apprentice. A real shame. I’ve seen the Delta parked up in a Chrysler showroom in the Midlands, looking lost. It’s so Italian it hurts – why can’t Fiat give it an Italian badge and stopping faffing about. I’m with you – I need to buy a new car next year, and have always hankered after a Lancia – I’ll be looking out for re-branding kits on Ebay! Fiat – you know it makes sense, ditch the yank branding! Bring us Lancia back!!!

  2. I like the look of the Delta (as I did the Lancia version) but not quite as keen on the Ypsilon… I wish it well though. Keith I notice you describe that as a “Lancia” Ypsilon in the text – is that right?

  3. I think that dashboard looks vile to be honest. Way too shiny. Makes it look cheap & nasty, like Chryslers generally are.

  4. Who really sees a 300C as a latter-day p5b or Baby Bentley? Surely EVERYBODY sees them as a wannabe-Bentley for the thick of neck and grazed of knuckle?

  5. Well i don’t think the majority of the car buying public will realise they’re Lancia’s, most of jo public in the UK has never heard of Lancia. As car enthusiasts we all know it’s a badge engineered Lancia, but few of the general public will realise.

    Just like few Audi buyers realised they’re just driving a VW, few many drivers of Diesel Engined Fords will be aware their engines are identical to those used by Peugeot group, and few Peugeot owners will realise Citroen is the same company.

    As car enthusiasts we often forget just how blinded by badges much of the car buying public are. My friend has a Renault Twingo and was saying how it was a French car, i pointed out it was made in Slovenia, she’d just assumed all Renaults were made in France.

    In fact speaking as a car enthusiast, about 3 years ago i went to visit my friend in Belgium and was surprised to see a modern Lancia (some big saloon thing), i’d just never seen one before and had assumed Fiat had shut them down years ago.

    I think the Chrysler Delta etc is just part of Fiat’s deal with the US government, part of the terms of the sale/loan were that Fiat brought a 50mpg car to the US market, so they’ve just re-badged a Lancia for the US market and decided to shift it in a few other countries too. Most of the buyers will assume they’re buying an American car.

  6. Why couldn’t the whole of Europe get Lancia, and the rest of the world get Chrysler? There are enough petrolheads here who’s want a Lancia, and I would imagine a European company with that sort of heritage to trade on would be held in higher esteem in the executive car park than the Chrysler name.

    Last small Chryslers in the UK? Neon and Horizon. Last small Lancias? Delta and various booted Deltas. Which have a better image, I wonder?

  7. The Ypsilon’s interior quality is disappointing but it’s forgiveable at the sub £11K price Chrysler are asking for the entry level 1.2. Externally it’s distinctive but not contrived, so better than any of its competitors.

    Whether it carries Lancia or Chrysler badges, it will always be a White Hen to me.

    The competitive pricing could put it in direct competition with the Nuova Panda, on a version of the same platform. The Fiat will be made in the Pomigliano d’Arco factory built to produce the Alfasud, with a woeful reputation – Italy’s Linwood. The Ypsilon comes from the former FSM facility in Tychy, Poland which makes the 500 and produced the outgoing Panda. The Panda and 500 have done much to improve Fiat’s build quality reputation. Quality comparisons with the Italian product will be interesting, to say the least.

  8. “I would imagine a European company with that sort of heritage to trade on”

    They had a heritage of being rust buckets that would break if you looked at them too hard. I think the rust problems and subsequent drop in sales is the reason they pulled out of the UK market. For those people that do remember them, trading on the heritage would have been negative if anything.

    I don’t think it would have made any difference what name they used in the UK in terms of kudos, so few people remember the old Rootes products and not many more remember Lancia. At the end of the day a Lancia Badged version would sell no better than Chrysler. Chrysler already has a UK dealer network. A true petrol head would buy the car for what it is, not because it has a Lancia badge, and any petrol head that really wants one will buy it regardless of which badge it has stuck on the front.

    Sam if you’re saying you’d buy it with a Lancia badge, but not with a Chrysler one, then that rather illustrates the point i was making above about most of the car buying public being blinded by badges. The only difference between the Lancia and Chrysler versions, are the badges and the different style of slats on the grille.

  9. Lovin’ them both and will be looking seriously at the Delya next year. For Fiat, Chrysler is certainly a safer bet in the UK – established brand and dealer network with plenty of scope for going down-market. Chrysler tried to launch Dodge in the UK a few years ago but pulled it because, frankly, it didn’t need to spend money promoting it. The same applies to Fiat, with its Chrysler and Alfa badges already on the market. As a car enthusiast,I would prefer to buy the car with a Lancia badge, but its an investment Fiat needn’t make here. I bet there’s a good trade in replacement badges and grilles though!

  10. Why only Continental Europe deserves Lancia? The Chrysler badge it’s too awful and irrelevant to be applied to a cool Delta III.

  11. Oh dear, that dash is terrible. I give any car a wide berth that has the important instruments in the middle of the car (including a “proper” mini, sorry)

  12. 406V6 – Main dials in the middle of the dash make sense from a cost point of view when selling in LHD & RHD markets.

  13. I would echo Robert Leitch (who really, really wants to love the Ypsilon, esp the twin air variant) but the pair of us having poked around it in Geneva I think it would be fitting a Proton showroom, its just sub-FIAT poor internally, ecternaly it resembles an Allegro attacked with a bicycle pump.

    I LOVE the Delta, and I have graced a few blogs on here with snapsots of it, but whisper it quietly, I just couldn’t drive one. The centre console is like a Bravos – too wide, meaning your crown jeweles are crushed, and your left knee is bashing the console.

    Still the marketing campaign does show what a shower of shite MG PR is.

  14. I owned a Lancia. It was awful. Rust, electrical problems, mechanical issues – you name it. It was a Delta with a boot; it was called a Prisma.

    Remember it? I thought not.

    Did I like it?

    Yes, it was fantastic.

    Would I buy another Lancia?

    Yes. But not with a Chrysler badge. Lose it.

  15. If only! I love one Lancia I can’t fit, despise another I do fit… If profoundness is your bag I was sat in FIAT Croma yesterday, and test driving it next week…

  16. How Does Lancia have any more value than Chrysler?

    As said above, Lancia are barely known to the general public any more, and those that do know of them have memories of rusty unreliable….

    Chrysler already have a dealer network, Lancia don’t.

    The other point is along with these re-badged Fiats, Chrysler now have a full range of vehicles for sale in the UK market, from a super mini up to an MPV and 4x4s. Lancia don’t have anything.

  17. I dunno. But to me (at least) Chrysler = cheap. Pretty much the same as Chevrolet (= very cheap). If you know what I mean!

  18. Yes, I thought I saw a Lancia-looking car a couple of weeks back and I couldn’t understand the Chrysler badge – this explains everything. Still, at least I’ve seen one, which is more than can be said for an MG6 – anyone seen one yet…?

  19. “I dunno. But to me (at least) Chrysler = cheap. Pretty much the same as Chevrolet (= very cheap). If you know what I mean!”

    Not really, Grand Voyagers, 300C’s and Jeep’s are hardly cheap. Grand voyagers are from £28k, compared to say a Ford Galaxy from £24. Grand Cherokee from £36k
    Are you suggesting you’d pay more for a Lancia badged version than an Chrysler version of an identical car? If you are then you really are blinded by badge engineering.
    Yes european market Chevrolet’s (AKA Daewoo)are very cheap

    “Fiat have already set up Abarth enclaves in their British big city dealerships. Why not Lancia?”

    Abarth are a tuning brand like AMG, Cooper etc not a brand of car. So what you’re suggesting, is Fiat would have a Dealership with an Abarth, Lancia and Fiat section. If they’re going to do that they may as well move Alfa, Ferrari and Chrysler all into the same building?
    Why would they spend money setting up Lancia dealers, whether in a Fiat showroom or standalone, when they can use the under-utilised Chrysler Dealers for Free?

  20. As a Fiat owner for the bast 12 years(the Marea Weekend took over where the Montego estate left off) I was very interested by the Delta when it was announced a couple of years ago. (Check out The styling is a bit of a stretch but the USP for me is the extra wheelbase over the Bravo which is all in the rear and (with the slidy seat) gives you the choice of extra leg room or room for the dog cage. It’s other USP is that no one will buy one and this would make it so easy to find in a car park

  21. @kennyg – what you’re saying is that this car, which appears to be being sold as a luxurious and stylish proposition, is actually a pratical workhorse. That’s a fine combination of attributes for a car at £16,500. As another former Marea Weekend owner (I had two) I can only concur. And btw, that Fiat looked fabulous!

  22. @Magnus – I’ve seen about 4 since launch – 1 of which was a stickered dealer version, pulling a trailer with a big MG6 poster stuck to it! Amateur hour marketing!! I usually see them on the M42 – probably going to/from the tech centre. Nice cars – which would no doubt sell more if a TDi engine was on offer……

  23. Nothing beautiful about these ugly pigs!! They deserve (and will) to fail spectacularly in the UK!! Ungainly, disproportionately styled and most probably hideously unreliable… the world has moved on since the horrid lancia tat of the 70s 80s and 90s…

  24. Quote: “Nothing beautiful about these ugly pigs!! They deserve (and will) to fail spectacularly in the UK!! Ungainly, disproportionately styled and most probably hideously unreliable… the world has moved on since the horrid lancia tat of the 70s 80s and 90s…”

    Nothing more false: these are beautiful cars, i’m telling You: I own british cars in Italy ALL made in Cowley and Longbridge and I’m very happy with them however the point is: if I have to buy a new car what can offer the old England ?????

  25. What I don’t like at all – and I gather I’m in good company here – is the front grille.

    A proper Lancia’s got to have a proper two-lobe front grille, OK badge engineering (up to a certain point) and part commonality, but… damn, was is too difficult to just style two more different grilles? Both versions just seem so anonymous.
    I personally liked the pre-Chrysler merger Delta much, much more.
    As one who’s closely seen all Y/Ypsilon models on the road since their 80’s inception it’s really hard for me to look at them as Chryslers – as much as it’ll be hard for Italian buying public (let’s face it, nearly all Lancias are sold here, numbers abroad are irrelevant) to accept a RWD New Thema (aka Chrysler 300), after Fiat Auto’s been trying for years now to convince customers that RWD was a thing of the past (I’m speaking Alfa Romeo which has been all FWD since Fiat takeover).

    PS: I don’t either like the rest of the new Ypsilon – too quirky.
    Hope it sells, though.

  26. Re the Ypsilon once again – I think I’ve seen that face before.

    Mumble, mumble…

    Aha – The PT-Cruiser!!!!

  27. There is some possibility that the Chrysler 200 convertible could be introduced as a Lancia Flavia.

    300 to be called the Thema. Unfortunately the new 300 does not look as distinctive as the old, which I considered a nice alternative to the ‘me too!’ fleets of Bavarian and 4 ringed saloons littering the business car parks and outside motorway lanes of the nation.

    Looks a bit too brutal / US ‘muscle’ to be a Lancia, when compared to the Thesis, which I originally thought was an ugly interpretation of a Ford Scorpio, until I saw 4 sunglassed guys jump out of a blacked out Italian secret police version in the centre of Rome!
    Perhaps in a grey trading estate in the UK it might look less elegant.

  28. Minority interest cars. Lancia must be one of the few brands with more negative conortations than Chrysler in the UK. Can’t help but fail no matter what they call them. Sorry.

  29. The Flavia Cabrio exists allready as the Lancia-iszed Chrysler Sebring… can I add I owned from near new a well loved Marea before I bought a Montego?

  30. Oh Dear, two unloved children from the Fiat Group. both hit with the ugly stick when their forebearers were quite elegant and sporty (Fulvia, Flavia, Delta, Monte Carlo, etc).

    Some brands just don’t work in the UK, Lancia (and SEAT) are two of them.

  31. ….and in Europe all models will be badged as Lancia’s, so presumably here in Sweden I can get a Lancia 300C….maybe

  32. @Engineer – Seat seem to be doing well, at least in NI, where people see them as cheap VWs.

    My problem with the Seat brand is that it is a bit of a mishmash.

    A sporty hatchback, several slab sided unibox family cars, an MPV and an old A4.

    They should be the Alfa of VW group, with coupes and roadsters and dynamic saloons!

  33. “their forebearers were quite elegant and sporty (Fulvia, Flavia, Delta, Monte Carlo, etc).”


    I can’t think of a single Lancia that could be considered a looker. Rapid – Yes, Insane even(in the topgear sense). But nope can’t think of one i’d buy for it’s looks.

  34. @Dennis – Gamma Coupe was a really good looker. Then there was the Beta HPE, Fulvia coupe, Stratos. I could go on…

  35. @Dennis – The Gamma coupe was one of the most handsome cars of the 70s and 80s – and a Pinninfarina masterpiece…..

  36. I’ve always thought the Stratos was hideous. Frankly i think it looks like someone found a bare Ferrari shell in the breakers, then hacked bits off of it and grafted them onto a Panda.
    As i said utterly barking and a great car for that very reason, but still butt ugly. I’m with the Topgear team on this, they were almost always great cars but seldom reliable and never really much to look at.
    Actually thinking about it the PT Cruiser could wear a Lancia badge without much of a problem, it certainly had the Looks for it.

  37. Magnus, comment 25 – No, I still have not seen an MG6 other than in the showroom. I know the range is limited as is the dealer network. However, the fact I have not seen a single MG6 on the road yet is hardly an encouraging sign of an MG revival. It’s also rather hard to understand – even if the MG6 has escaped the attention of the wider public, surely there are enough enthusiasts out there to have allowed a few sightings by now.

  38. For me, a new Lancia would create far more interest than the latest Chrysler. I liked Lancias and their general feel, aura. Delta, Thema, Y10 – yep, they all appealed.

  39. “I liked Lancias and their general feel, aura. Delta, Thema, Y10 – yep, they all appealed.”

    But seeing as this ‘is’ just a Lancia with a Chrysler badge stuck on it, how would that change the general feel and aura? It’s an identical car made in the same factory!
    It’s a bit like saying you prefered pre-1989 Montego’s because they had Austin badges on them. And here we often wonder why BMC kept so many different brands. After reading this whole page you can imagine people saying “oh, no i’m not buying that Morris Mini-Minor, they’re terrible cheap cars, the Austin Se7en is a much better car”.

    either you like this car or you don’t, which badge it comes with is irrelevant because it’s still the same car. Personally i think the front looks pretty good, but the back looks like it’s been in an accident. I’d say the same about Lancia or Chrysler badged versions as they’re identical.

  40. There both badged engineered Fiats for Christ sake! The Ypee does hide its 500 routes well (better than the Ford Ka) but side profile on the Delta screams Fiat Bravo. What has not helped is that they are called the same name, which we all know as Lancia names, instead of being called Excelon or something more American. I wish them well but I think most people will look past the bling and see they are just Fiats.

  41. @daveh
    You’re right of course, but they do badge-engineering well! One reason for keeping them out of the Fiat showroom is to stop people realising those similarities. Problem is, for Skoda or Seat, being a badge-engineered VW is a positive thing. For Lancia (or Alfa), being a badge-engineered Fiat is a negative thing. I wonder whether that also applies to Chrysler? I still hope they sell, and I will be looking at a Delta next year as I have been a good customer for Fiat in the past.

  42. ” who here hasn’t seen a 300C and admired what many people see as a latter-day Rover P5B… or baby Bentley”


  43. I think it’s a bit of a shame, not to mention a further “Americanisation” of Britain that Fiat thought that the Chrysler name would be looked upon any more favourably than a return of Lancia. Yes they had a reputation for rust – so did Fiats – but we still have those! Mototing enthusiasts though will equally remember Lancias for their great sporting and rallying ability. Something that (apart from the bigger sports cars) Chrysler didn’t have. Wasted opportunity.

  44. What grates, is the adverts for these 2 new Chryslers talking about them coming from the “land of the free”

    “Land of the bunga bunga party” surely!

    Surely, they could have joint Lancia/Chrysler dealerships across Europe, us getting a Chrysler Ypsilon is ridiculous, but so is mainland Europe getting a Lancia badged 300C.

  45. Engineer, what a load of rubbish about SEAT in the Uk. SEATs sell massively in the UK.
    In 2011 when you posted,SEAT had its best ever year – with 36,089 sales. Only to then top this again with 38,798 UK sales last year in 2012. So far this year, SEAT is on course to sell well over 40,000 cars.
    As of last month (July 2013) SEAT had sold 25,681cars and Lancia/Chrysler 1,551.
    You may not like SEAT but please stop telling people the brand does not sell in the UK. The UK is its 3rd biggest market after Germany and Spajn. Do your homework first please.

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