What is it?
The Lancia Ypsilon supermini, a funky five-door based on the Fiat 500. It comes to the UK in right-hand drive as a Chrysler, and is the smallest model the American firm has offered here. We’ve driven it in 0.9 TwinAir form, prices for which begin at £13,140.
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Fiat’s TwinAir is 2011 Engine of the Year, the turbocharged 875cc two-cylinder unit boasting 99g/km CO2 emissions in the Ypsilon (free road tax, congestion charge exempt) while still producing 84bhp and 107lb ft of torque. Its soundtrack is also an endearingly keen thrum.
The options list contains several bits of clever technology, including the intuitive Blue&Me Bluetooth setup and ‘magic parking’, though with the car being so titchy and the turning circle tight, the latter option is £575 that is surely better spent on ten tanks of fuel.
What’s it like to drive?
Not unlike a 500 TwinAir, funnily enough; lots of fun without being the last word in handling prowess. There’s a fair bit of body roll through corners and the suspension can be crashy over rough roads, especially on the optional 16in alloys of our test car. But you can’t fail to have fun driving it with gusto, the steering precise and well weighted, the five-speed manual’s gearchanges short of throw, and the car pleasingly responsive to throttle adjustments.
The main downside, as with an equivalently engined 500, is that you need to keep the TwinAir engine on the boil to maintain momentum. That means brisk pace and amusingly rorty noises, but a resulting mpg figure that’s nowhere near the claimed 67.3mpg.
How does it compare?
An entry-level Fiat 500 TwinAir undercuts the Chrysler by £1245, but the Ypsilon does offer five doors, more space plus a different (and to our eyes, slightly more masculine) look. A Mazda 2 1.5 Sport boasts similar fun and performance in a similarly sized package, costing £13,295 but emitting 135g/km of CO2. That means an annual road tax bill of £115.
Anything else I need to know?
There are two other engine options, both of them crackers too – Fiat’s tried and tested 1.2-litre four-cylinder ‘FIRE’ petrol unit (68bhp, 57.6mpg, 115g/km) and a keen 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel (94bhp, 74.3mpg, 99g/km). The base-spec 1.2 kicks off the Ypsilon range at £10,640.
|Engine||875cc, in-line 2-cyl, turbocharged|
|Max power||84bhp @ 5500rpm|
|Max torque||107lb ft @ 1900rpm|
|0-60||11.5sec (claimed 0-62)|