As a nearly owner of quite a few Lancias – I’m not sure whether I’ve come closer to buying a Beta HPE, a Gamma Coupe or a Monte Carlo, but I desire them all, as well as the famous Delta Integrale – I’m rather pleased that this famous Italian marque is returning to Britain. Not only because we’ll be able to buy these cars again, but also because it’s proof of Fiat’s renewed commitment to a make that at times has been neglected close to the point of extinction.

The July 2008 relaunch will be modest, but will include Lancia’s best news for years, in the shape of the new Delta HPE, previewed in a concept form that’s said to be very close to the real thing. This five door hatch isn’t a forest-storming sprinter like the Integrale, but it’s certainly distinctive, with its so-called ‘flying bridge’ roof and roomy cabin. It shares structure with the Fiat Bravo, will feature advanced Uniair petrol engines, advanced diesels and a chassis roll control system. Good to see that it will contain the kind of subtle technical advances and eccentricities that Lancias used to have.

The Delta HPE will be joined either by right-hand drive versions of the baby Ypsilon three-door hatch, or the Musa cross-over, a classier version of the Fiat Idea, which has been dropped from the UK. The Musa is the only premium baby cross-over in the world right now, has been a big hit in Italy and has just had a facelift. The exquisitely styled Ypsilon (a descendent of the Lancia Y10, if you remember that) might not make it here because it is an older model, and due for replacement in 2009.

Lancia will be following this pair up with a coupe-cabriolet inspired by the much admired Fulvietta concept, an beyond that, possibly a successor to the mid-engined Monte Carlo sports car. All that, however, is well into the future – the good news is that Lancia returns.

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