Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fire up the... Chrysler Ypsilon

YOU'D be forgiven for thinking the fine lines of this city slicker have come from the delicately held pencils of an Italian artist. In fact, you'd be right, because while this new Chrysler's might have an all-American badge pretty much everything else is more Turin than Detroit.

That's because Chrysler, troubled by the credit crunch, sought solace in the support of Fiat, Italy's biggest car company, and the two have been sending each other's cars on a sort of automotive foreign exchange trip. That's why on the continent you can buy a Chrysler 300C with Lancia badges and why in Britain, the car known everywhere else as the Lancia Ypsilon is now - wait for it - the Chrysler Ypsilon.

Forget the badges though, because this supermini contender is one quirky looking little car no matter which company sells it to you. It's a riot of interesting angles and curves, with everything from the concealed door handles, the rear lights which creep into the side pillars and that imposing grille competing for your attention. Never let it be said that a small hatchback can't be a treat to look at.

The TwinAir engine, to my mind at least, isn't quite so endearing - it sounded gruff when I tried it in the Fiat 500 last year, and it sounds even more strained in this. It's award-winningly frugal and there are plenty of people who enjoy the offbeat patter the two-cylinder engine produces, but it's not one I enjoy. Luckily, if you loathe the TwinAir rather than love it, there are plenty of more conventional powerplants on offer.

In fact, the biggest problem with the £13,140 Ypsilon is that as a package it just doesn't quite gel - it's an interesting offering, but you can't help feel that in terms of interior quality, handling and ease of ownership a Fiesta or Polo would run rings around it.

Not that Chrysler and Lancia should hang their heads in shame, because I've driven another of their hatchback offerings and it's an absolute belter. Click here to find out why...

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