It is made in Italy by the Fiat group, and sells in mainland Europe wearing Lancia badges.
The Chrysler Ypsilon is not the right car to drive if you are a shy introvert. The car’s quirky styling and frankly odd looks, plus the fact that there are few of them about, combine to ensure that you will be looked at wherever you go. Italian cars are usually renowned for their beauty, but this one is a bit of an ugly duckling compared with the rest. It is certainly distinctive, though, with love-or-hate Marmite appeal. Everything about it is slightly wacky, from that bulbous note to those tail-lights shaped like big apostrophes, and that rather quaint two-tone paintwork.
It is deceptive in its interior space, too. This is a tall, rather upright, modestly sized five-door hatchback that looks like a three-door, thanks to the rear ones having concealed handles. Its short length and tubby shape makes you think there won’t be much room inside, but it has very good headroom and it isn’t too bad for knee-room either.
From the badges you might assume that this car is American, and hails from Detroit. That is evident from its Chrysler identity, right? Wrong, actually. It is made in Italy by the Fiat group, and sells in mainland Europe wearing Lancia badges. If this seems a somewhat unusual state of affairs, it is explained by Fiat having taken over Chrysler, and deciding to sell badge-engineered Lancias in the UK as if they are Chryslers. Blame ancient history, back last century when Lancias were rust-buckets, fell out of favour and were withdrawn from sale here. Hence the idiosyncratic decision to re-launch them on the British market for the 21st century disguised as something else.
The Ypsilon’s engine choice is 1.2 litre petrol (69 bhp), 0.9 litre TwinAir petrol (95 bhp) or 1.3 litre MultiJet diesel (85 bhp). Prices start from £10,695 for an Ypsilon 1.2 S manual and rise to £15,695 for a 0.9 litre TwinAir Limited Auto. Here we test a mid-range 1.3 litre MultiJet in mid-spec SE trim.
The Ypsilon is no ball of fire, but it isn’t too bad a performer either. The 11 seconds 0-62 time tells you that it is not particularly rapid off the mark. Wind it up to motorway cruising pace, though, and it will happily sail along with enthusiasm. Under the bonnet is a second generation Fiat MultiJet engine with a variable geometry turbocharger, and it is a gutsy power unit that gives the car a willing character. The power output of 95 bhp at 4,000 rpm is plenty to haul along a body this size, and 148 lb ft of torque at 1,500 rpm ensures reasonable mid-range pull.