While boasting unique looks, the Delta is stuck in no man’s land. It’s not luxurious enough to distance itself from the better-looking Alfa Romeo Giulietta, and the Chrysler badge is unlikely to tempt buyers from more mainstream choices. Yes, it comes with an impressive range of engines, offers good economy and has excellent safety credentials, but it’s a pretty average all-rounder – and expensive, too.
Visit most European cities and you can’t fail to spot a Lancia Delta, but the latest generation has never been sold in the UK.
Now that’s about to change as the Delta is coming here in right-hand drive, badged as a Chrysler. It’s priced to compete with the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf, but can the newcomer take on the established players?
Chrysler is targeting drivers looking for a stylish, fashionable alternative, and the Delta is sure to grab attention with its distinctive grille, narrow tail-lights and flowing lines.
It’s marketed as a ‘luxury’ model and the cabin goes some way to backing up this claim. Higher-spec cars have sumptuous leather seats, while the soft-touch dash is offset by shiny metal trim and a stylish design.
There’s plenty of space, too, with a larger than average boot and useful rear seats which can slide back and forth. It’s not all good news, though, with plenty of shiny, scratchy plastics ahead of the driver and questionable fit and finish.
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You’d generally expect a luxury car to be refined, too, but a turn of the key reveals that the 1.6-litre diesel model is shockingly loud when cold and doesn’t improve much on the move.
On the plus side, 300Nm of torque ensures it feels much faster than its 0-62mph time of 10.7 seconds suggests. And, as an added bonus, it returns more than 60mpg with the standard six-speed manual gearbox.
On rutted roads, the Delta struggles to deliver a comfortable ride. Potholes and rough tarmac send vibrations into the cabin in a way that they wouldn’t in a VW Golf. Adaptive dampers help cure the problem, but they’re a costly option at £800.
So does the Delta deliver as a stylish and luxurious alternative family hatch? Well, it certainly has style, but it’s built to a budget – and feels it. You need to spend more than £21,000 with this engine to get leather seats, and they’re badly needed to give the interior a touch of class.
At that price, you’re into high-end Focus and Golf territory, plus more powerful versions of the diesel Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
And with that model already one of the best looking cars on the road, will style-seekers really be convinced by the Delta?