What’s it like?
If you remember Lancia’s far-off history of mechanical innovation, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the new Delta. Three of the engines from this new Delta’s range of six are brand new, among them the twin-turbocharged 1.9-litre 190bhp diesel we’re testing here.
But the car disappoints in exactly the areas we’ve been lead to expect greatness by Lancia’s own pre-launch build-up. If the new Lancia is all about comfort, quality, luxury and refinement – if it is indeed ‘Italy’s answer to Lexus’ – you wouldn’t know it from the Delta’s driver’s seat.
This car’s material cabin quality is inconsistent; its rich leathers and soft touch dash materials are too often juxtaposed with shiny silver trims and hard plastics. And levels of fit and finish are equally variable, both inside the cabin and outside it.
Moreover, the Delta’s driving position is poor – and this is a fundamental flaw for what’s supposed to be an upmarket product. The position of the pedals and steering wheel were skewed to the left in the left-hooker we tested, and the squab of the front seats was too short for good leg support.
Mechanical refinement levels are only adequate; our 1.9-litre diesel was a strong performer, but no more quiet than the class average.
And perhaps most disappointing is the way this car rides; on the standard springs and dampers it affords occupants less comfort from ruts and bumps than many superminis, and while the secondary ride improves with the addition of the adaptive dampers, the Delta’s never as cosseting as it should be.
So, should I buy one?
With the Alfa Romeo brand to carry its sporting ambitions, the Fiat Group has recast Lancia in a unique mould; that of a maker of stylish, advanced, refined and spacious mainstream cars. With the Delta though, it has delivered a car with only half of those virtues, and plenty of faults besides.
We've already been waiting 14 years for Lancia to return to the UK, and we'll have to wait longer, until July 2009, for this Delta to touch down in the UK. But even then, on this evidence, the wait for a really good Lancia will go on for even longer.