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Despite its one-of-a-kind looks, you’ll have no bother keeping it maintained – under the skin it is essentially a Fiat 500/Fiat Panda. All three share engines, brakes, suspension and other oily bits, so getting replacement parts for it will be a cinch. Y’see the Ypsilon is, strictly speaking, a Lancia. In its home market of Italy, that’s the badge you’d find on similar cars and, in the UK, it takes Chrysler’s name because Lancia new-car sales here ceased in 1995.
Now, in turn, Chrysler has just confirmed it will withdraw from the UK sales market soon, an action that will of course see this seldom-seen car become yet rarer. Still, there’s plenty about this little motor to enjoy. If you’ve driven such a small car for a while, its smooth, supple ride will surprise you. And while its 1.2-litre petrol motor gives only a modest 69bhp it does rev willingly, while the easy, high mounted gearshift is nice to use. The steering is light and it is quiet inside, even at motorway speeds.
That central instrument pod is easy to read once you’ve grown accustomed to not having the dials dead ahead of the wheel. It’s nicely kitted out inside and good-looking with its modish piano-black gloss fascia. It feels classier inside than its Fiat-badged cousins,
Inside it is roomier than you’d expect. And it is a five-door model – in case you’d missed it, the rear doors are ‘hidden’, having concealed outer handles, Alfa-style. So, getting in and out of the rear is easy, all things considered. Headroom is terrific for such a short car but six-footers travelling in the back may find a discomfiting lack of leg-space. The seat cushions and backs are thin and squishy but still more comfortable than you might think.
All told, the asking price is fair: about the same as you’d give for a Panda of similar age and miles, but less than a Fiat 500 might stand you. Insurance will be cheap, road tax is low and 50-plus mpg expected overall means that it will be low-cost as anything to own.
It’s a distinctive looker with its shield-shaped grille and sculpted rear, looking every inch the Italianate design it is. If we were shopping for a classy but small model to downsize into, we’d be tempted… will you?
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