The 2003 Lancia Granturismo Stilnovo concept illustrated that size and proportion matters.
Editor’s note: As a companion to this week’s Saab concept retrospective, we turn to a near-contemporary from Turin. This piece was first published on 4th October 2014 as part of the Concepts theme.
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.
Lancia showed the Lancia Granturismo Stilnovo at the 2003 Barcelona motor show as a genuine kite-flying concept car, one of quite a few quite credible studies they showed around this time. Three years later these ideas were translated into the production ready Lancia Delta HPE concept which was first revealed at the 2006 Venice International Film Festival. This then took a remarkable two 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 was not a real concept at all. The production Lancia Delta (Type 844) was unveiled at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show. It was based on a long wheelbase version of the Fiat C-platform. The car had a decent choice of engines too: available at launch were 120 PS, and 150 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)*.
All in all, it was a 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 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, C-sector cars and the segment above; that, and the rather 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 details, but the proportions changed. I would argue that productionising the 2003 car would have been a better bet rather than trying to make an odd-package like the long wheelbase C-platform work.
* Those figures are from Wikipedia.