Road Tests

Handbook: Chrysler Ypsilon

Time 9 years ago

Is the new Chrysler Ypsilon a credible alternative to the supermini mainstream? James Batchelor finds out

WHAT IS IT?

If you believe the press pack, the Ypsilon is a compact car with all of ‘the luxurious character traits of Chrysler’s bigger cars’. The cynic’s view is that the Ypsilon is nothing more than a rebadged Lancia, harking back to the days of British Leyland badge- engineering. The practical view is that the Ypsilon takes Chrysler into a new market allowing its dealers to turn greater profits. Modest sales of 4,000 units in a full year are expected.

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WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET?

Chrysler might want you to think that this is a Chrysler from Detroit through and through, but the engines give the game away. There are two petrols and a diesel all from Fiat. The petrols are made up of the perennial 69bhp 1.2- litre FIRE unit and the famous little 875cc TwinAir. The 1.3-litre MultiJet makes up the Ypsilon’s diesel derivative.

WHAT’S THE SPEC LIKE?

Ypsilon is not luxurious despite it being badged as such. There are three trims – S, SE, and Limited – with the most basic version costing £10,695. That one boasts steel wheels, keyless entry, electric mirrors, and a ‘sound absorbent roof’. Prices top out at £15,695 for the TwinAir Auto Limited which features leather, fog lamps and Fiat’s Blue&Me. All come with Stop&Start but there’s a pricy options list for ‘added’ luxury.

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WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

The Ypsilon is based on a lengthened 500 platform and all of the retro Fiat’s fun driving quirks remain. The steering is light if a little too numb, and the ride is pleasant enough. The five-speed ’box is slick and the two-pot TwinAir unit is charming. Our gripes are that rear visibility is atrocious and TwinAir’s ‘thrumb’ is at odds with its sophisticated look.

WHAT DO THE PRESS SAY?

Generally similar views. Autocar says if customers are interested in brands, a Chrysler supermini ‘won’t do it’ for them, the Independent said ‘it’s a likeable little car’ but wouldn’t want to have the job of marketing it. What Car? felt the Ypsilon ‘is not as plush or as good to drive’ as its rivals. However Autoblog said it’s ‘an interesting alternative to the supermini mainstream’.

WHAT DO WE THINK OF IT?

There’s no denying the fact that Chrysler has a tricky job to do. The Ypsilon is likeable in certain areas such as the distinctive styling and posh ‘Bi-colour’ paint schemes, but it’s far from being luxurious – scratchy and thin dashboard plastics anyone? – and we think customers are intelligent enough to realise it’s a rebadged Lancia built in Poland.

READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH NIGEL LAND, JEEP CHRYSLER UK BRAND DIRECTOR

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer.

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