The Chrysler Ypsilon is the smallest of the new breed of Italian-built Lancias, uniquely badged as Chryslers for the UK because Fiat would rather not confuse, upset or frighten us by re-launching Lancia here having killed it off years ago.
More specifically, the Ypsilon is an ultra-compact five-door supermini, only 3.8 metres long but quite tall so it’s surprisingly credible as a five-seater. The underbits are closely related to the Fiat 500 and Ford Ka, but it sits on the longer, 2390mm wheelbase of the new Fiat Panda. Chrysler stresses space (at least for the car’s size) and luxury, both of which the Ypsilon delivers in exchange for solid prices.
Our test car came in tcame in top-of-the-range Limited trim and was further enhanced by two-tone paint, 16-inch alloys, ESP, a sunroof, cruise control and rain-sensing wipers, but go for the spartan 1.2-litre, 68bhp S and you get a useful cabin package, albeit with no air-con or alloys. The mid-spec SE has both.
And overall it’s a useful, likeable little car. Once you get used to riding fairly high, and to the (attractive) central instrument cluster, it’s a relatively soft-riding little machine with lighter steering than most and a light-to-use if slightly rubbery five-speed gearchange. It’s a quite different experience from what has become the Ford-VW norm among small cars; the body isn’t so well controlled but the car copes better and more quietly than most of its peers with suburban potholes. Noise levels are also fairly low at top-end motorway cruising speeds, which makes the Ypsilon much more than a mere city car.