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All-new Lancia Ypsilon hits the road

High hopes: Fiat describes the new-gen Lancia Ypsilon as its ‘small flagship’, with its prestige features, advanced technology and customisation options.

Jury out on Ypsilon’s Aussie future under Chrysler as new Lancia micro hits Europe

26 May 2011

THE Fiat Group’s redesigned Lancia Ypsilon premium light car has reached European showrooms this week after its unveiling at the Geneva motor show in March, although its arrival in Australia as a member of the Chrysler stable remains under a cloud.

Despite Fiat and Chrysler Group chief executive Sergio Marchionne confirming to GoAuto last year that, “fear not”, Lancia cars will be sold under the Chrysler brand in this country, Chrysler Australia’s senior manager of marketing and corporate communications, Dean Bonthorne, this week said the company still had “no advice” on the possibility of the Ypsilon coming here.

“We have some very exciting times ahead for the Chrysler brand, including expansion of the model range globally and in Australia,” he said.

“The fantastic alliance with Fiat Group is sure to have a positive influence on this growth, though at this stage we have no details to share for the Australian market.”

Built on the same platform as the Fiat 500, the Ypsilon would provide Chrysler with an attractive entrant in the high-volume and fast-growing light-car segment, which accounted for 138,000 total sales in Australia last year with growth of 18.4 per cent – well above the 10.5 per cent industry-wide sales increase.

Asked at the Detroit motor show last year if we would see Lancia cars as Chryslers in Australia, Mr Marchionne said: “As Chryslers? Yes, you will. Fear not, you will.

“To the extent that Lancia is not active, not present in any given jurisdiction, Chrysler will be with a combined offering of Lancia and Chrysler.”

136 center imageHowever, Fiat’s priorities for Lancia are clearly on Europe and North America, particularly with the Fiat Bravo/Ritmo-based Delta premium five-door small hatch shown in Detroit last year as a Chrysler – still to be confirmed for right-hand drive – and with the fourth-generation Ypsilon reaching the company’s Italian home market this week.

Right-hand drive production of the Ypsilon has been confirmed, with Fiat reaffirming this week that it will hit the UK market in September.

Available only as a five-door hatchback for now, the Ypsilon is based on a 300mm-longer wheelbase than the Fiat 500 – stretching it to 2390mm and liberating cabin and cargo space – and measures 3842mm in length, 1676mm in width and 1517mm in height.

It is available in Europe from launch with three Euro 5-compliant engines (all with fuel-saving auto idle-stop), including the 63kW/145Nm 875cc two-cylinder TwinAir turbo recently crowned 2011 International Engine of the Year.

Combined with the standard five-speed manual gearbox and tipping the scales at around a tonne, the TwinAir Ypsilon can return EU combined-cycle fuel economy of just 4.2L/100km and CO2 emissions of 99g/km.

It also has a top speed of 176km/h and can reach 100km/h from standstill in a claimed 11.9 seconds, or 12.2 with the optional semi-automatic gearbox.

The other two engines available in Europe are an entry-level normally aspirated 51kW/102Nm 1.2-litre ‘Fire Evo II’ four-cylinder engine and a 70kW/200Nm 1.3-litre ‘MultiJet II’ four-cylinder turbo-diesel.

A 1.2 ‘Bi-fuel’ (petrol/LPG) Fire Evo II will also soon become available, while other TwinAir variants confirmed for the Fiat 500 and 500C are also expected.

The Ypsilon is being positioned as a prestige contender, with Fiat pointing to a number of unique features for a car in this class such as bi-Xenon headlights, LED tail-lights, a second-generation radar-based ‘Magic Parking’ system, ‘Smart fuel’ automatic fuel cap system and a ‘Blue&Me-Tom Tom Live’ infotainment and media/navigation unit controlled through a touchscreen.

The company describes the Ypsilon as a “refined and innovative” Italian five-door with the “look typical of a three-door”, offering one of the most spacious cargo capacities – 245 litres – and rear-seat passenger compartments for its class, the latter due in part to Fiat’s first application here of ‘slim seat’ technology.

Fiat claims the European range offers more than 600 possible customisations through the availability of three interior trim specifications (Silver, Gold and Platinum), six upholstery trims, 16 exterior colours (four of which are two-tone), three alloy wheel designs and the three initial engines.

Standard safety equipment across the range includes electronic stability control, traction control, a hill holder, ABS brakes with EBD, daytime running lights and at least four airbags (high-series models add front-side airbags), while convenience items run to driver’s seat height adjustment, electric front windows, a 50/50 split-fold rear seat and “technical fabric with fitted electro-welded seams”.

Moving up from Silver to Gold adds climate-control air-conditioning, MP3-compatible stereo, leather trim on the steering wheel/gearshift and ‘Castiglio’ upholstery, while Platinum adds 15-inch alloys, leather upholstery and more.

Options include 16-inch alloy wheels, side skirts, tinted headlights, black scuff plates with illuminated logo, automatic headlights/wipers, and an eight-speaker 500W ‘360° Hi-Fi Music’ system.

The chassis set-up is a conventional MacPherson strut front/torsion beam rear configuration with power-assisted rack and pinion steering (offering a 9.44m turning circle) and front disc/rear drum brakes.

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