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.