Lancia Ypsilon

Debut: 2004
Maker: Lancia
Predecessor: Ypsilon

Since the days of Y10, Lancia’s small cars were all derived from Fiat’s platforms to save money - the Y10 was built on Fiat Uno, Ypsilon Mk1 was a rebodied Fiat Punto Mk1. Compare with the large volume Fiats, the Lancias were packaged and sold as niche models - more emphasis on style and luxury, accompany with a higher price tag of course. From 1985 to 2003, the two generations of Lancia small cars sold 1.8 million units, just a fraction of the Fiat equivalents.

The new Ypsilon Mk2 follows this route again. From technical point of view it is a rebodied Fiat Punto Mk2, but from the customer point of view it is a much more attractive car than the Fiat. First to catch your eyes is the cute, tasteful and elegant styling. The shape is simple, but it is rich of elegant details, such as the shield grille, the fingernail-shape headlamps, the characteristic line running across the top of front and rear wheelarches, the distinctive rearlights, the clampshell hatchback.... apart from BMW’s Mini, no other small cars look so prestige and tasteful. The design studio of Lancia once again proved its superiority over Fiat’s.

The cabin is also expensively trimmed with high quality textile mixed and match in tasteful color scheme. Over the top is the "Skydome" glass sunroof - it covers 70% of the roof, contributing to a light and airy ambience. Besides, a lot of high-class equipment is offered, such as Bose Hi-Fi, 2-zone climate control and cruise control. In terms of space, the Ypsilon is more or less the same as Punto. Its occupants sit high but still have a lot of headroom, thanks to the 1530mm body height. The only problem is the lack of 5-door version. Like its predecessors, the Ypsilon Mk2 is only available in 3-door form. Admittedly, this is not a big problem to a niche small car and it benefits the styling as well.

Sharing the same underpinnings, Ypsilon handles and rides like the current Fiat Punto. Blame to the lifeless electric-assisted steering, it will never inspire its driver to attack corners. However, the firm suspensions resist roll well and the torsion-beam rear setup keeps the tail movement tidy at the limit, thus Ypsilon should meet the expectation of all but the most demanding drivers. On broken surfaces, the suspensions soak up big bumps effectively. High speed damping is also remarkable. The only condition it doesn’t deal well is on minor undulation and ripples, where it reveals a slight lack of compliance.

Although ride and handling is just average, Ypsilon has some excellent engines. Best among them is Fiat’s latest Super Fire 1.4-litre dohc 16V engine. Unusually, this engine has aluminum head and block so that it weighs only 69kg. A long-stroke combustion chamber (72m x 84mm) enables very strong torque: 94 lbft at 4500rpm and the torque curve is almost flat from 2000 to 5500rpm. On the other hand, it produces a remarkable 95 horsepower, thanks to an unusually high 11.0:1 compression. On the road, the Ypsilon equipped with this engine is quick and tractable. When you press hard, it even emits a sporty note to excite the driver. It is probably the best mass-production 1.4 engine currently on the market.
The 1.4 engine will spread to other Fiat group models, including Fiat Punto. However, even with this engine the Punto will not be as attractive to buy as Lancia Ypsilon.
The above report was last updated on 11 Mar 2004. All Rights Reserved.


General remarks

Ypsilon 1.4 16V

Front-engined, FWD

Steel monocoque

Mainly steel

Length / width / height 3778 / 1704 / 1530 mm

Wheelbase 2388 mm


1368 cc

Valve gears
DOHC 16 valves


Other engine features

Max power
95 hp

Max torque
94 lbft

5-speed manual

Suspension layout
F: strut
R: torsion-beam

Suspension features

Tyres front/rear

Kerb weight
980 kg

Top speed
109 mph (c)

0-60 mph (sec)
10.3 (c)

0-100 mph (sec)

Performance tested by: -

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