By Wayne Gorrett
The Ypsilon is Chrysler’s first foray into the crowded British super-mini market. It’s a compact, five-door hatchback with lots of equipment. Dressed in Black & Red attire, it’s cute, cheeky looks are almost irresistible.
PROS: Attractive styling, good kit, well-built.
CONS: Lacklustre driving dynamics, low-rent and ill-placed instruments,
poor driving position.
☀ ☀ ☀
With some degree of tedium, there has been much written about Chrysler’s Lancia connection. Many lament the demise of Lancia in the UK and its absence over the past two decades – which I find a little odd. If the UK motoring public were bothered to have bought their cars, perhaps the marque would still be here. That, of course, is speculation. The only countries not sporting the Lancia brand are the UK, Ireland and Japan. Elsewhere, the Lancia brand remains.
In the UK, Chrysler is represented by a small but select range of vehicles – from the oddly cute Ypsilon, it’s older brother the Delta, the well-received Grand Voyager people-shifter and the now much-improved 300C.
A funky, special Black & Red edition of the Ypsilon has been available for a short while in the UK, evidence that Chrysler is trying to lure a greater proportion of younger buyers to the brand. The exterior of the car features black and red bi-colour paint, 16-inch multi-spoke alloys, fog lamps, black glass and body-coloured side skirts as standard. Inside, the theme continues unabated with black and red fabric seats, dashboard and door linings.
The overall interior finish does take some getting used to but – with its target market in mind – it’s a visual job well done. Make what you will of the external styling, it sure won’t be mistaken for anything else on the road. The rear doors have hidden handles and the roof floats above the expansive C-pillar. The two-tone Black & Red is quite striking back there.
The engine line-up on the Ypsilon Black & Red offers more variety, with three engine choices: A 1.2-litre petrol (£12,750), 0.9-litre litre petrol TwinAir as tested (£13,895) or 1.3-litre diesel MultiJet (£14,895).
The two-cylinder 84bhp turbocharged 0.9 TwinAir provides reasonable performance – as long as you keep the revs above 2,000rpm. Considering it’s city-car appeal, we found it a bit clumsy to drive around town, with its best performance to be found on the motorway. Tootling along at 70mph, it felt like there was still more in reserve. We didn’t use it, of course. Engine revs at 70mph were a droning 3,800.
The ratios on the 5-speed gearbox seem at odds with the small, two-cylinder TwinAir, with fourth and fifth gears each causing torque rumble – the effect felt when accelerating in too high a gear. Two seconds after engaging fourth gear, the irritating gear-shift indicator will recommend an immediate shift to fifth. If you do, the car vibrates and shudders with torque-drone. The ill-matched TwinAir engine and standard gearbox leads one to conclude that the justifiably-lauded TwinAir engine was developed with little or no consideration as to how best to deliver its output.
Ride & Handling
The Ypsilon is based on a slightly stretched Fiat 500 platform. It’s steering feels dull and remote and the suspension is a tad firm for the UK’s scared and potholed roads, though – oddly – there’s an unexpected amount of body roll during cornering. That said, the tyres are narrow and some fun can be had when driving ‘enthusiastically’. As the TwinAir engine weighs little more than three mosquito’s, the front of the car is very light – creating an unexpected element of fun for those daring to find it.
The 0.9 TwinAir engine is noisy throughout the rev range and if the revs are allowed to drop too low, the noise is joined by excessive engine vibration. This, coupled with wind and road noise makes the car seem quite coarse and unrefined.
Behind The Wheel
The main instrument cluster is centrally-mounted with the gearlever on the dashboard, though the matrix displays are both low-res and low-rent. There’s a high driving position and the driver’s seat is height-adjustable. However, the driving position is awkward and it’s tricky to get comfortable because the steering wheel has no reach adjustment and the pedal area is cramped.
The dashboard has a logical layout – for left-hand-drive. The conversion to right-hand-drive ignored the location of the speedometer which, in RHD configuration, is situated opposite the front passenger. The rev counter and speedometer share the same radius in the cluster, so would it have been so difficult to swop the two around so the car’s speed is at least visible by the driver? Due to small rear view mirror, rear visibility is not good.
Space & Practicality
Space is quite good for the front two and has good knee room for what is quite a small car. The rear bench seat is church-pew firm and headroom is limited. The boot, while adequate, is smaller than those in many rivals, too.
The Black & Red is well-kitted out with 16in alloys, air-conditioning, stop/start, leather steering wheel and gear knob, trip computer, daytime running lights, 360o Hi-Fi by Bose and Fiat’s functional Blue&Me with USB and aux ports.
☀ Fast Facts ☀
Chrysler Ypsilon 0.9 TwinAir Black & Red
Recommended retail price of model tested ☀ £13,950.
Ypsilon Black & Red price range ☀ £12,750 – £14,950.
Power and Torque ☀ 85bhp @ 5,500rpm / 145Nm @ 1,900rpm.
Towing capacity (braked) ☀ 750kg
Acceleration ☀ 0-62mph in 11.9 seconds.
Engine RPM at 70mph ☀ 3,280
Top speed ☀ 109mph.
Boot capacity ☀ 245 litres.
Fuel tank ☀ 40 litres (8.8 gallons).
Ave fuel economy (combined) ☀ Official 67.3mpg / Tested: 44.3mpg / 362 miles (66%)
Full tank range ☀ Official 592 miles, as tested 390 miles.
CO2 Emissions ☀ Class Euro V: 99g/km
Road tax ☀ Band ‘A’ – £0 per annum
BIK (benefit-in-kind) company car tax rate ☀ 11% current.
Euro NCAP rating ☀ No recent results.
Insurance group model tested ☀ 7E.
Warranty ☀ 3 years, 60,000 miles.
* Ford Fiesta * Chevrolet Aveo * Renault Clio *
If you’re seeking a compact, economical five-door with cute looks and good kit, the standard Chrysler Ypsilon TwinAir is a reasonable choice. But, while its funky colour scheme managed to turn a few heads during our test, the Black & Red variant is a case of style over substance. Its price tag of £13,950 is too overweight against better rivals and unfortunately, is not recommended.