If I got £10 for every time someone said to me “What is it?” during my time with the Ypsilon I would probably be able to buy one even though the Black & Red special edition you see here costs an eye-popping £14,950 on the road. What I must explain however is why this car wears a Chrysler badge which is a brand that are know for their larger cars.
You see in England many years ago we had Lancia models but the company withdrew its cars from our market due to appalling reliability. Rust was the biggest problem which led to parent company Fiat choosing the Chrysler badge when bringing Lancia models to the UK. Make no mistake the Ypsilon is a Lancia through and through and not a traditional Chrysler
A shade under £15,000 is a lot of money for a city car but at least the Red & Black comes with plenty of standard equipment. Attractive alloy wheels, foglights, electric windows, air conditioning and an upgraded stereo with Bluetooth all come as standard. You also get a useful City button on the dash which makes the steering feather-light for parking manoeuvres.
What you do get for your money is a five door hatchback that looks like nothing else on the road. At the front the massive grill and angular lights sit below a clamshell bonnet finished in black. Sitting on the same platform as the Fiat Panda the Ypsilon squeezes five doors into its small body with a steeply rising waistline that meets the black roof at the rear where neatly hidden doorhandles sit. The rear is equally distinctive which curvacous lights that sweep along the side of the car with a domed tailgate placing the numberplate just below the rear screen. It’s a design that turns heads and divides opinion but I love the look.
The cabin in my eyes is the best part of the overall design. There’s red everywhere from the seats that have a Y stitched onto them to the dash and door panels. The design is simple with the dials placed in the centre of the dash and the gear lever nice and high. Visually it looks very plush with piano black plastic on the centre console and the strangest red fabric elsewhere which is similar to what you find on garden furniture. The rest of the plastics used are not the rough scratchy type you would expect which to me felt very nice. It’s just a shame that it isn’t screwed together well often creaking when you press buttons.
Despite tiny dimensions the Ypsilon manages to seat four adults in comfort with good levels of legroom and the boot too it far superior to a MINI or 500 with a wide opening. However I encountered problems with the lack of adjustment of the steering column, the speedo which is too far away from the driver and on the wrong side and poor visibility due to chunky rear pillars.
On the move the Chrysler feels relaxed thanks to good insulation and a soft yet supple ride. It places comfort above agility which results in lots of body lean in corners but it does a brilliant job of smoothing out rutted roads. The rest of the driving experience is no more than average with good levels of grip but next to no feel through the steering and a slightly rubbery five-speed gearbox. The brakes too are snatchy and take some getting used to.
The 1.3 litre multijet diesel unit however is an absolute gem. Producing a very healthy 95 bhp with 148 lb/ft of torque the Chrysler accelerates up to motorway speeds with real vigour and a smooth delivery of power. It also rarely needs revving to make swift progress and remains impressively hushed. What amazed me was the economy it offered. I managed over 550 miles to a tank which only holds 40 litres of diesel. I averaged 65 mpg during mixed driving which isn’t to be sniffed at. Ypsilons fitted with this engine are also road tax and congestion charge exempt thanks to emissions of just 99 g/km
Price as tested: £14,950
Engine: 1.3 litre 16v 95 bhp – 0-62 mph: 11.4 secs – Maximum Speed: 114 mph –
Economy: 60.1 mpg (urban) –88.3 mpg (extra-urban), 74.3 mpg (combined) – Emissions: 99 g/km (Band A) – VED (12 months): £0
Dimensions: Length: 3,842 mm – Width: 1,676 mm – Height: 1,520 mm – Wheelbase: 2,390 mm
*data from Chrysler UK
The Ypsilon is a real Marmite car. You either love it or loathe it. I personally love it. It is one of the most distinctive cars out there looking classy at the same time with bags of character. The interior looks fantastic and is built using pleasant materials although squeeks and rattles will annoy most. For such a small car it is very comfortable, refined and practical. Go for the diesel engine and you also get a highly capable motorway cruiser that is wonderfully frugal and VED exempt. It isn’t a car for enthusiasts but as an all rounder it’s surprisingly appealing.