So it’s official: UK customers won’t be getting the new Lancia Delta in 2009. We won’t be getting the Lancia brand at all next year, it turns out.

Delta Blame the economic crisis; that’s what Fiat’s doing.

You could say it was a shame, but on the basis of the drive I had in what must have been one of the first Deltas off the line in June, it’s not. Those launch cars might have been rushed through in order to be ready for the European press.

I certainly hope so, because the fit and finish inside them wasn’t anywhere near what I expect of a car costing £20,000. The driving position wasn’t right either; I remember getting out with all sorts of back and knee pains. And the refinement levels weren’t good enough either.

The only other road tester at Autocar who’s driven a Delta is Steve Cropley, and since he tells me that the one he drove was much better, perhaps there is a glimmer of hope for the Delta. There are certainly lots of other guys here keen to have a go in one. If nothing else, that confirms how much goodwill and enthusiasm still exists for Lancia.

As for me, I sincerely hope Fiat can get its act together, and that the financial situation stabilises within a year or so. By then, the new Ypsilon will be on sale in Italy – a “proper Lancia,” as CEO Olivier Francois described it to me, rather than a chopped-about Fiat Bravo (that’s not how Olivier described the Delta, I hasten to add… but why not call a spade a spade?)