Paris show: Lancia's British return
28 September 2006

Lancias will be on sale in the UK from 2008.

And the car charged with the task of chipping the rust from this tarnished brand is the Delta HPE.But don’t expect a rally-roarer along the lines of the Integrale.

“The problem Fiat has always faced with Lancia is that it was always pitching for the same market as Alfa Romeo,” said Richard Bremner, Autocar’s senior contributing editor. “But Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne is confident these marques can now be given different ‘flavours’: the new Lancias will be more about style and elegance than sportiness.”

Marchionne hopes to be selling 300,000 Lancias by 2010, and to this end all new models will be geared-up for right-hand drive.

The Delta HPE seen in Paris is reported to be “90 per cent there” in terms of how the eventual production version will look. “Style-wise, the Delta has detail references to past Lancias,” said Bremner, “but this is a very fresh-looking car. And Lancia is planning to update two-tone paint jobs: think Hillman Minx with taste!”

The HPE will be powered by a range of petrol and diesel engines, all of them turbocharged.Based on the floorpan of the new Bravo, albeit with an extra 100mm let into its wheelbase, a sliding rear seat is said to provide legroom greater than that of the Thesis, the largest car in Lancia’s range.

“This car is a good first step towards the regeneration of Lancia. But you can’t launch a brand on just one model. So do you re-engineer some of your existing older models for right-hand drive? Probably not. And so the real question is: how long will it be before another mainstream Lancia comes on stream? “The second step will perhaps be even more difficult.” Exactly how the Delta HPE will be marketed in the UK has yet to be rationalised, although it’s likely that Alfa dealers will have to find space for it in their showrooms.

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