Lancia's new Ypsilon city car has been spied during tests in Italy ahead of its launch in the UK complete with Chrysler badging.
The Chrysler version of the Ypsilon is due to be unveiled at Geneva in March ahead of sales in the final quarter of 2011. The launch of the diminutive hatch will mark a considerable change in strategy for Chrysler, which has hitherto concentrated on European versions of US models only in the biggest market segments.
Based on the Fiat 500 platform, the Ypsilon will sit on a stretched wheelbase and have five doors to distinguish it from the three-door 500. The outer skin and the interior are unique and, according to insiders, mix contemporary and some retro styling features.
The key engine for the city car-sized Ypsilon will be Fiat’s new turbocharged, two-cylinder TwinAir engine. Chrysler UK expects to sell no more than 1800 examples of the car next year, but it believes the Ypsilon has “significant sales potential” in the longer term.
The UK will also get a new five-door Delta hatchback that will push Chrysler right into the heartland of one of the biggest-selling segments in the UK for the first time since the Neon was dropped in 2004.
The Delta is due on sale in June; it will receive almost no modifications to become a Chrysler - just a front grille and a badge. Five engines will be offered (the line-up should include a twin-turbodiesel and 1.4-litre Multijet petrols) and sat-nav will be part of a high standard specification. Chrysler sources say the car’s pricing will be “very competitive” in the Focus/Golf sector.
Chrysler-badged Lancias will be unique to the UK, because the Lancia name is still used in the bulk of European markets.