Bad Photos For Sunday

As ever, the only place in Jutland with interesting cars for sale is EZ Biler, near Silkeborg.

2003-2011 Lancia Ypsilon

The same old friends are there: the unsold Lybra, Kappa and XM Prestige. I notice they also have a 1984 Nissan Laurel for sale. Alas, I was with my brood and they did not want to

look at a bunch of old cars, no matter how interesting they were.

2003-2011 Lancia Ypsilon interior

It was all I could do to drive around the lot where I saw a newcomer, a fetching 2003-2011 Lancia Ypsilon with beige paint and a tan interior. It also had automatic transmission. My wife is supposedly interested in a more user friendly car than our languishing XM. I think this might be something I could tolerate even if it is just a Fiat Punto in nicer clothes.

The interior is as fine as the exterior – and it stands in marked contrast to the notable lack of lux apparent on similarly-sized cars which these days are black and grey throughout. I exclude Hyundais which are setting the small car standard on colour and trim. Citroen have the tan interior option on the C-Airbump. Hyundai though has some pale blue plastic and tan which is bolder than grey and tan, note.

Back to the car:

If only Lancia has thought to invest the car with say, a 1.5 or 1.6 litre engine and turbo’d it. And perhaps rear discs would have been a pleasant detail (this one has drums). Such a car would not have stood on anyone’s toes among the other Fiat group cars. It would also have been closer in spirit to Lancia’s higher-quality image. Despite this lack of extra distinction, the Ypsilon has been a constant best-seller inasmuchas that for a little investment Fiat Group captured 60,0000 annual sales for years with this formula of a nice car for ladies-about-town.

I suspect the Ypsilon is the same to drive as any other small Fiat when it really ought to be a cut-above: better steering, brakes and performance. It’s done well for a glorified trim level.

EZ Biler haven’t listed this car yet. I don’t know if it has been on sale for long. Ominously there are black streak running down the side, a sign of a car that has sat about for a while.

Author: richard herriott

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

11 thoughts on “Bad Photos For Sunday”

  1. “If only Lancia has thought to invest the car with say, a 1.5 or 1.6 litre engine and turbo´d it.”

    They did. The facelifted version has a reprofiled front end with a slightly lengthened front bumper overhang and a more stand-up grille. This was done to accommodate the plumbing for the 1.4 turbo FIRE. Fiat management put the kibosh on it because it was regarded as ‘too sporty’ for Lancia. Idiots.

    1. They’d have shifted lots of those. A torquey 2.0 would have been even better – as long as the differences didn’t stand out too much visually.
      So, here’s a basis for a gradual re-emergence of the brand, constantly kept in a stunted state.
      If there’s one version nicer than this it’s the one with the dark red or the dark blue microtufted cloth. Those ones had an unusually sybaritic atmosphere.

    2. As they sow, so they shall reap.

      12,994 ‘sporty’ MiTos sold in Europe last year, against 66,172 White Hens.

    3. “If there’s one version nicer than this it’s the one with the dark red or the dark blue microtufted cloth. Those ones had an unusually sybaritic atmosphere.”

      It has a lovely texture, indeed. The trims on the facelifted Y are nothing like as nice as that for the launch spec; I actually think the interior on this generation of Y is superior to the current one, which both looks and feels extremely cheap.

  2. Robertas: perhaps my sports formula is mistaken. Can one increase performance while avoiding overt GTness in a small car? My image of the uprated Ypsilon is to imbue it with ample performance but not at the expense of refinement: a Mercedes E squashed down.
    The MiTo/Ypsilon comparison is startling.
    Incidentally, I saw a 4C yesterday. I assume it’s decent enough to drive – the impact of the shape is impressive. It ought to sell in far greater numbers. It was very special. Alfa deserve to at least have some success with that as it looks precisely as fabulous as a small sportscar should.

    1. Your question regarding performant, but non-sporty small cars immediately evoked Renault’s Baccara models in my mind. I don’t actually know if they had really big engines, but it’s this formula, right? Plush luxury and refinement in a small package. I wonder when (and: why) they stopped making these.

  3. Simon: yes, the Baccara springs to mind. It’s a legend though I’ve never seen one. Could we say the Mini and multi-option cars like C3 and Adam cater to this market a bit? They don’t have exactly the same character of big car features in a small volume. The Lancia does.
    Stradale: I agree, the early Ypsilons of this type radiated an aura of comfort and quality. Generally one doesn’t remember interiors very much. The Ypsilon I saw (I can recall the street and year) impressed me enormously. Even in 2004 it stood out from its peers. How much advertising does the car get and did it get? If more people cross-shopped this versus a Corsa, Polo or Fiesta they’d woo a lot more customers (assuming they keep offering these de luxe trims).

  4. High performance really small cars are a pain in the arse, and most other parts of the body too. My 205XS in the mid-80s was a wearing companion on long journeys. A Cortina or Cavalier would have done the job better. The high performance Fiestas, Polos, and MINIs just about get away with it as they’re as big as a Golf Mk.2, and considerably heavier. Perversely I have a notion for a 100bhp Panda, although our 68bhp one is fine for the tasks it is called upon to fulfil. Sergio can keep his Abarth 500s – oafs’ playthings.

    To the Silkeborg Ypsilon. The Dolce far Niente automatic is a bit bobbins, despite its glorious name. It’s a Marelli-devised automated manual, with an electro-hydraulic ‘man’ working whatever gearbox the manufacturer chooses. PSA used the same system, which I tried in a C5. It’s jerky, doesn’t creep, and is occasionally butt-headed in its selection of ratios. In its favour, assuming it chooses gears as well as a real person, the only extra energy it takes is used in operating the servo mechanisms.

    I like the idea of a torquey 2.0 White Hen, automatic naturally. Automatics of every sort work best with the sort of engine which don’t need much gear changing. We’re probably not allowed to say these things now in polite company. In any case, a good hybrid or full EV could achieve the same result.

    For a truly luxurious city car a revived Musa could be the answer; More space inside on a White Hen-sized footprint, higher H-point. I’d give it pillarless doors and a Hyundai Ioniq-like platform which allows hybrid and EV options. Sergio wouldn’t dare – think of the embarrassment if it consistently sold 100,000 a year…

  5. Might I suggest the late Opel Meriva in top spec which has suicide doors? I’ve seeen one of these and fulfils the fancy trim, H-point and door requirements?

    1. Why not take the previous Meriva? No fancy doors and zig-zag waistlines, but a very nice and tidy design. And it seems substantially smaller than the newer generation (without checking the dimensions).
      I had this car for an 8-hour trip to Italy and found it quite acceptable for such a small thing.

  6. Simon: the zig-zag doorline is great for kids who can have an easier time seeing out. Also, the suicide doors make it easier to get in and out. Finally, the Meriva 2 had some very pleasant colours and materials that the more sober Meriva 1 did not have. I like them both, though. It´s that the second one did those extra things so nicely. They got zero thanks for it though.

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