Theme: Concepts – 2003 Lancia Granturismo Stilnovo

One of the last Lancias had a five year gestation from concept car to production. In this case there were two concepts, a real one and a pre-production model. One of them was not helpful.

2003 Lancia Granturismo Stilnovo
2003 Lancia Granturismo Stilnovo

Lancia showed the 2003 Lancia Granturismo Stilnovo at the Barcelona motor show as a genuine kite-flying concept car, one of quite a few they showed around this time. Three years later these ideas were translated into the production ready 2006 Lancia Delta HPE concept revealed at the Venice International Film Festival which then took a remarkable 2 years to get to an official launch by which time the styling had staled somewhat.

You have to look at the 2006 and 2008 cars side by side to notice any difference so we can conclude the 2006 car is not a real concept at all. The production Lancia Delta (Type 844) was unveiled at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show. It was based on the long wheelbase of the Fiat C-platform. The car had a decent choice of engines too: available at launch were 120 PS, and 150

2003 Lancia Granturismo Stilnovo concept car
2003 Lancia Granturismo Stilnovo concept car

PS 1.4 L Turbojet petrol engines, and 1.6 L 120 PS MultiJet diesel, 2.0 Multijet with 165 PS  and 1.9 Twinturbo Multijet with 190 PS.  A new petrol unit was launched later: 1.8 Di Turbojet with 200 PS (147 kW). Those details are from Wikipedia. All in all, it was a

2006 Lancia Delta HPE concept
2006 Lancia Delta HPE concept

pretty fast and distinctive vehicle but about as popular as rabies. In 2008 Gavin Green at Car wrote: “It’s a huge improvement on the mostly rather anodyne Lancias that last corroded on UK shores. Its main appeal is that it is genuinely different from anything

...and the rear
…and the rear

else in the class. Now being ‘different’, of course, can be good (think Apple computers) or bad (think Michael Jackson makeover).” The main points to note were the fact it was midway in size between Golf-class cars and the segment above and the rather

2008 Lancia Delta production version.
2008 Lancia Delta production version.

charming upholstery options (don’t laugh – look at how monotonous car interior fabrics are these days). What survived the process going from concept to production were the

2010 Lancia Delta and George Clooney
2010 Lancia Delta and George Clooney

details but the proportions changed. I’d argue that productionising the 2003 car would have been a better bet rather than trying to make an odd-package like the LWB c-platform work.

2008 Lancia-Delta_1_8_Di_Turbo

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

4 thoughts on “Theme: Concepts – 2003 Lancia Granturismo Stilnovo”

  1. Lancia Centro Stile was on a roll back then. The 2003 Ypsilon still looks good, the Fulvia concept has held up remarkably well, and this even more so. The front is a touch busy, but the rest still looks contemporary. Ditto the concept that heavily influenced this, the Carcerano Granturismo. Considering the nonexistent resources allocated to them, De Meo and Manzoni did a sterling job in maintaining a shred of relevance. It’s no surprise that both were recruited by VAG shortly afterwards. Even the 2005 Ypsilon Sport Zagato was nicely done.

    In any case, I do agree that producing a conventional C-segment hatch would have been the way to go. Fiat fairly obviously failed to heed one of the enduring lessons of Rover, which is that in-between-sized cars are no solution to an inadequate development budget. If you only have the money to develop one model rather than two, develop one conventionally-sized model rather than trying to steal sales from both sectors. Clearly-articulated market segments exist for a number of reasons – desperation does not make one more clever than the rest of the industry. But I suppose by this stage, Lancia was already well-entrenched as Fiat’s purveyor of ‘whatever Fiat and Alfa aren’t doing’ brand.

    The production Delta is one of those ‘if only’ cars, substantially compromised by the microscopic development budget and the need to cut costs. It is largely the detailing that lets it down – they look quite good on the street, but as you get close, you find the chrome detailing looks and feels very cheap. The same applies for the Bravo-derived interior and especially the spraycan-silver centre console, although the piano black console in certain up-spec versions does a lot to minimise that effect. The tan interior is indeed very nice and a distinct departure from the norm.

    In a way, though, the writing was on the wall for this car at its launch in Geneva in 2008. Somewhere on a hard drive I have photos of the show cars. The finish would have been unacceptable on any run-of-the-mill production hatchback delivered to a regular customer, let alone the examples supposed to relaunch an entire brand and destined to be crawled over by the entirety of the world’s motoring media. The most egregious example was terrible paint run at the bottom of the grille’s ‘V’ on every single one of the five showcars. In a way it said it all about the attention given to this car, and the competence of Fiat management in general.

    1. Good analysis, thank you. That said, there’s much to like about the Delta. It’s utterly unmistakeable and the work of good stylists. They’ll linger as oddball cars for quite some time to come as those who couldn’t buy them new look for them when they are affordable. I’d very much like to test one.

    2. Fiat/FCA’s styling department really suffered under Ramaciotti’s watch, didn’t it? The last truly successful Fiat was Roberto Giolito’s 500, which was designed before the reogarnisation of Centro Stile and Fiat styling in general. Since then, we haven’t seen anything remotely inspiring coming out of Turin.

    3. Yes, this is true. Especially if you think that the 500 really originated as the Trepiuno concept all the way back in 2004 – on that count, the design is now 12 years old. Remarkably, I still think it looks fresh, but there’s no way you’d trust Fiat to deliver a similar hit now.

      As you say, there has been very little of note in the last decade – though that is partially because there has been very little new product, full stop. But even what there has been, has largely been aesthetically disastrous (see further 500L, MiTo, etc).

      I will admit I thought the Grande Punto was quite smart when it came out, and I like the current Panda, especially in Cross spec – I wasn’t sure about it at launch, but seeing them on the street changed my mind. I even quite liked the Bravo. But all of these are pretty much the last remnants of the old guard. The Tipo really says it all about the current state of design-led initiative at Fiat. I do wonder how much of all this is Mr Spreadsheet’s fault.

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