The name died with the disappearance of the second-generation Delta in 1999, but Lancia seems to have bowed to pressure from fans and has kicked off the chain of events that would lead to the Delta’s return.
The new car will use the same platform as the next-generation Fiat Stilo to keep development costs down, and it could arrive in late 2007 or early 2008, depending on whether Fiat bosses decide to launch it or the new Stilo first.
A concept car could also appear next year to celebrate Lancia’s 100th birthday. Senior Fiat Auto insiders see the Delta as one of the two most important models in the company’s plans, along with the Suzuki-based Fiat 4x4 that will be arriving early next year. The big decision facing Lancia bosses is whether to launch only a front-wheel- drive Delta, or to take on the technological headache of converting the Stilo’s platform to take Alfa’s four-wheel-drive system, destined for the 147.
The design, previewed here by our artist’s impressions, will be a development of the five-door Stilnovo concept car shown at the 2003 Barcelona Motor Show. Fiat Auto boss Sergio Marchionne and Fiat President Luca di Montezemolo are said to have agreed to computer designs of the Delta, with work already underway on early clay models.
At the moment there are no plans to bring the new Delta to the UK, although if the Lancia line-up continues its recent resurgence it increases the chances of bringing in a limited number of left-hand-drive models, or even a full UK relaunch of the Lancia brand.