Road Test: Italian bred with an American identity, the all new Chrysler Ypsilon

Admin February 20, 2012 0

Last week we had the opportunity to be one of the first in the country to test drive the new supermini from Chrysler. It’s called the Ypsilon.

You might think upon first looks that this car doesn’t follow Chrysler’s traditional American design lingo. That’s okay though, because it’s not American. Confused?

This reason for this is that the Chrysler Ypsilon is quite simply the adopted name given to the 2012 Lancia Ypsilon in right hand drive countries.


Three very different engines are available to Ypsilon buyers. A 1.3 turbo-diesel 95hp, the buzzy 875cc TwinAir with 85hp (as seen here in our last review), and the 1.2 69hp petrol which was fitted to our test model.

Each comes with economy-aiding gadgets, such as Start&Stop, a Gear Shift Indicator and low rolling-resistance tyres. These additions, coupled with the already frugal engines, result in the little hatchback slipping comfortably into Tax/VRT Band A.

Over our 700km long week with the car, we averaged 5.5l/100km. Figures slightly above those claimed by the manufacturer, but economical none the less.


When we first discovered we would be collecting the Ypsilon for review, we had to do a quick Google image search to see what this thing was, due to our totally ignorant knowledge of such car. Being honest, the first few images we viewed scared us. To put it nicely, we thought it was a very “unique” looking car. It took a few minutes of browsing to actually discover this thing was a 5 door rather than a 3 door, due to it’s cleverly located rear door handles.

In hindsight, Google did not do this thing justice! When we finally saw it in the flesh, we were pleasantly surprised. It’s actually quite sporty looking, especially with the two-tone paint and 16″ alloy guise which our one possessed. The tinted rear windows also aided with this sporty appearance.


Nice as it is, the sporty exterior is the start and end of the sportiness. The interior is best described as a sofa on wheels. A comfortable, bright one at that. The half leather seats were pretty comfortable, but a bit “flat”. This resulted in minor sliding of le derier, especially on roundabouts. The driving position is nicely appointed, however the un-adjustable passenger seat felt a bit high up and almost jeep-esque.

Rear seats were comfortable. While legroom was fine for us, the headroom was lacking a bit. Just like the front passenger seat, the back bench just felt a bit too high. This is minor, but results in a strange bus-like experience for rear passengers.

The ypsilon comes fitted with some nifty gadgets which can be seen elsewear in the FIAT family, including the TomTom SatNav dock as standard (device is extra) and the useful Blue&Me media system.

One not so nifty ‘gadget’ was the standard dash board. The dials are now located above the centre console, with the speedometer on the left, noticeably closer to the passenger than the driver. This takes a lot of getting used to we presume, as after a week we still found it risky to take our eyes so far off the road to glance at the dialls at any given point. Thankfully the accompanying TomTom SatNav to the right of the wheel had a digital speedo for us to work off. Definitely a feature which really was designed for left hand drive variants.

Without a doubt our favourite gadget in the test car, was the optional Magic Park function. In short, this is a computer aided parking function. Simply press it’s engage button on the centre console, and it will begin scanning the left side of the road for a parking space large enough to parallel park in. When it’s found a space which to me and you looks too small to park in, it requests you to engage reverse. From there, you control the power whilst it locks the wheel and perfectly guides you into a space which you would otherwise have passed as being a recipe for scratches. It’s a genuinely useful gadget, and a great way to impress your friends if not for long..

 On The Move

Upon first turning the key in the ignition and kicking that baby 1.2 into life, we questioned whether the thing had actually started. The reason? Refinement. All we can put this down to is good build quality coupled with ample sound proofing. Having last driven the FIAT groups rowdy TwinAir engine, this 1.2 which they have produced is soothing.

Unfortunately, with this quietness comes a lack of low range torque. For most this won’t be an issue, but for those who prefer to overtake slow moving traffic, this won’t really suffice.

We understand that the car has been designed to be more of a premium level cruiser than a mile eating machine, but the 1.2 just seems a bit underpowered, especially when compared to some of it’s competitors which produce on average a third more power from the same unit size.

The flip side to this lack of power is that the gearbox was an absolute joy to use. That might sound a bit enthusiastic, but it’s properly smooth and precise. Using it along with the refined little power plant, makes you feel like you’re driving a mid size German car rather than an Italian supermini.

For this reason and more, we think the Chrysler badge, which normally represents the larger luxury saloons and class leading people carriers, is completely at home on the Ypsilons grill. It’s best to think of it as an entry level luxury segment car, but for quite literally – half the price.

Price: from €14,245

km this week: 700

More photos can be found here




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