Chrysler Ypsilon 1.3 Multijet Limited

Rebadged Lancia has unique looks, but falls short on finish

Up against a pair of established cars with premium badges, the Chrysler Ypsilon is something of an unknown quantity. The striking five-door is an established presence in Europe, where it sells as a Lancia, but the Ypsilon name will be new to many UK buyers.

The car is effectively based on a stretched previous-generation Fiat Panda platform, and the city car-inspired dimensions mean it’s the smallest car here. To our eyes, it looks rather ungainly with its narrow track and mix of curves and creases.

Inside, there are further problems. The high-set driving position and cramped pedal layout mean it’s much less comfortable than the MINI or Audi, while its chunky C-pillars restrict over-the-shoulder visibility.

It can’t compete on quality, either. The central instrument pod sets it apart in this company, but the poor-quality cabin plastics simply aren’t in the same league as those in the other cars tested here, while the dashboard architecture betrays its Panda origins. Poor fit and finish is an issue, too, although the ebony-effect centre console trim lifts things a little.

The Ypsilon compensates by offering great value for money. Even though it’s the cheapest car in our line-up, the Limited model pictured here is the flagship trim and comes with a generous tally of standard equipment. This includes leather upholstery, auto wipers, a multifunction steering wheel, power-fold door mirrors and Bluetooth connectivity.

Our car was also fitted with a few choice extras, such as a £650 panoramic sunroof. But this compromised the already restricted rear headroom. Space is also an issue in the boot, which is the smallest on test, at 245 litres.

Get behind the wheel, and the Ypsilon is outclassed, too. Around town, the light controls and small dimensions give the car a Panda-like charm, but head out of the city, and the slack steering, excessive body roll and poor ride comfort are all disappointing.

Soft suspension settings mean the Chrysler bounces up and down over bumps, yet still thumps into potholes. And in corners it lacks the composure of its rivals. The spongy brake pedal also fails to inspire confidence. Worse still, stability control isn’t fitted as standard and we recorded poor stopping distances.

Still, the 1.3-litre Multijet engine punches above its weight. The little diesel is eager and makes the most of its 200Nm torque output. Against the clock, the Ypsilon matched the Audi in our in-gear tests, but it has to be worked hard and refinement suffers.

Economy is good, though. We averaged 42.4mpg which, combined with emissions of 99g/km, makes for affordable fuel and tax bills. Chrysler even has a zero VAT offer at present. But for a car with premium aspirations, the Ypsilon’s shortcomings in terms of dynamics and quality may be too much to overcome.

Details

Chart position: 3WHY: Lancia Ypsilon is a familiar sight in Europe. It’s now selling as a Chrysler in the UK and aiming for high-end supermini status.

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