We all love a good comeback story. Rocky, Cinderella Man, Cher in her Believe era, you get the idea. Just as society thinks an artist or character’s best days appear to be in the rearview mirror, they prove exactly why they’ve always been great. In the same vein, rally legend and Italian automaker Lancia is staging a comeback, and the new Lancia Ypsilon is leading the charge.
After the turn of the new millennium, Lancia’s had a history of both strange decisions and neglect. The Thesis looked like a Jaguar S-Type described over a walkie-talkie, the Flavia II was literally a Chrysler 200, and the Ypsilon III was sold in the U.K. as a Chrysler. For the past eight years, that third-generation Ypsilon has been the only car Lancia sold, and even then only in Italy.
However, that aging Ypsilon has been the best-selling subcompact car in Italy as recently as August of 2022, and was the second-best-selling B-segment car in Italy last year. In Italy, Lancia still matters, which is why it’s incredibly pleasing to see an all-new Ypsilon that’s beautifully strange.
Up front, you’re greeted by a split-headlamp arrangement with one giant LED strip running all the way across the fascia to serve as the daytime running light. Considering we’ve already seen this arrangement in the Hyundai Kona, there’s not much weird about it. However, that full-width daytime running light is set into what can only be described as an angular monobrow with a vertical centered element that perhaps acts as some sort of moral support. I know pareidolia is played-out, but this thing genuinely has a similar facial expression to that of Moai from Easter Island.
Weirder still? Those aren’t the only daytime running lights. There are more in the actual headlamp assemblies, three dots per side, or one dot shy of Porsche’s current signature. Also, there appear to be four rounded body-color rectangles in the bumper with distinct seams, which could either provide active cooling or suggest that someone wasn’t really paying attention the last time the Monty Hall problem was explained. How odd.
Things get less weird around the side, because this new Lancia Ypsilon is a re-skinned Peugeot 208 and everyone knows it. There’s no hiding the typical hatchback silhouette, but there is adding confusion with shiny black wheel arch trims on a vehicle that makes absolutely no implication that it’s trying to be a crossover. Lancia’s stylists might be trying to add some Fulvia HF implications, but still, huh?
Around back, the weirdness picks up a touch, with two round taillights meant to evoke those on the Stratos, and a hilarious difference in font, leading, and size between the Lancia wordmark and the Ypsilon emblem. The rear end also gets two massive, horizontal black trim pieces to echo the front, one between the taillights and one beneath the liftgate.
The first new Ypsilon on the market is an electric-only Cassina special edition. Lancia’s only making 1,906 of these, to celebrate the year of Lancia’s founding. While we don’t know much about exactly what sort of batteries and motor powers this Italian hatchback, Lancia claims a WLTP range of 250 miles. Considering the Volkswagen ID.3 Pro has a WLTP range of 264 miles and sits on a dedicated platform, Lancia’s figure seems solid for what is essentially a standard hatchback with a high-voltage drive system.
Moving to the inside, Lancia’s clearly picked all the rights sorts of weird to include in the cabin. Leather? How 20th century. The Ypsilon Cassina has blue velvet seat facings that look positively sumptuous compared to the hide of a beast. Need to set something down or take a video call while charging? A circular table sprouts from the dashboard, and not only does it sport a wireless smartphone charger, it looks big enough to perch a small laptop on. Is there a giant disc with ominous blue lighting sitting atop the dashboard? Of course there is, don’t even question it.
The new Lancia Ypsilon is no Delta Integrale, but if it means a future for Lancia, sign me up. The brand has been left to languish on the vine for too long, so new life is greatly appreciated, especially when it’s as unique as this. The new Ypsilon looks delightfully eccentric, the sort of car that would win a local Cars And Coffee in 2049. All I can say is sign me up.
(Photo credits: Lancia)
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