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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist


Lancia’s revival steps-up with hot road and rally Ypsilon HF

First performance Lancia hatch since the second generation Delta is, however, an EV-only affair, though not the rally version.


Resurgent once iconic brand Lancia has continued its revival by debuting a performance version of the all-new Ypsilon, including a rally version signalling its return to the World Rally Championship (WRC) for the first time in more than three decades.

EV performance

Reviving the HF moniker not used since the first two generations of Delta, the Ypsilon HF doesn’t, however, follow the same route as the original by offering four-wheel-drive or a turbocharged engine.

Instead, it derives motivation from an electric power unit, more specifically the uprated 177 kW setup available in the Alfa Romeo Junior and soon, the Abarth 600e.

ALSO READ: Lancia on the comeback as first new model in 13 years debuts

An uptake of 62 kW over the standard model, the Ypsilon HF will get from 0-100 km/h in a claimed 5.8 seconds and most likely offer a greater range than the regular model’s 403 km.

Despite Lancia not revealing full details, easy-to-spot differences between the Ypsilon and HF includes a wider front and rear track, lowered suspension and as evident by the images, new alloy wheels, a restyled front bumper and a new lower air intake.

Lancia debuts road and rally Ypsilon HF
Subtle but easy to spot changes have taken place inside. Image: Lancia

While no images of the road car’s rear facia were released, elements from the rally version are expected to feature, namely an imitation diffuser and the HF badge complete with the elephant mascot first utilised in 1960 before becoming the official performance model designation with the founding of Squadra Corse motorsport division three years later.

As per the depiction of the interior, the HF’s key difference include an HF branded steering wheel and elephant outline on the lid of the bin-like centre console storage area.

Return to rallying back on

The centre of focus though is the rally version that marks Lancia’s return to the WRC for the first time since the factory team left in 1993 after an 11-year spell that started with the Rally 037 in 1982.

Decked-out in a tribute version of the iconic Martini livery that featured throughout Lancia’s works campaign on the 037, Delta S4 and the Delta Integrale, the brand’s return to rallying won’t, however, involve a programme in the main Rally1 category against Toyota, Hyundai and M-Sport Ford.

Lancia debuts road and rally Ypsilon HF
Sporting retro Martini livery, the Ypsilon HF will mark Lancia’s return to the World Rally Championship (WRC) for the first time since the factory team bowed-out in 1993. Image: Lancia

Instead, the Ypsilon HF conforms to Rally4 regulations and unlike the road version, swaps the electric motor for the same 1.2-litre turbocharged PureTech three-cylinder that debuted as an EV alternative earlier this year.

For the Rally4 though, Lancia has removed the 48-volt mild-hybrid system and replaced the six-speed dual-clutch gearbox with a mechanical five-speed sequential.

Lancia debuts road and rally Ypsilon HF
Unlike the road going model, the Ypsilon HF rally car will be powered by a turbocharged petrol engine. Image: Lancia

Inclusive of a mechanical limited slip differential, Ypsilon HF Rally4 develops 158 kW, though unlike the Delta, which helped Lancia secure a still standing record of 15 WRC titles and three manufactures titles since the WRC’s founding in 1973, drive is routed to the front wheels as per the Rally4 regulations.

A possible world model?

On-sale in Europe from May next year with pricing still to be announced, as well as the Rally4’s exact return to the WRC, the Ypsilon HF will remain a left-hand-drive only model.

However, speculation dating back three years ago suggest it could well be made with right-hand-drive for the first time since Lancia’s abandoning of right-hooking nations in 1994.

“In the coming year, if things go well, why not trying to bring (Lancia models with) right-hand-drive also in Japan, South Africa or Australia,” Lancia CEO Luca Napolitano told Automotive News Europe at the time.

For the moment though, the Ypsilon remains a no-no for South Africa where importation of Lancia models ceased after 1997 following the banning of new left-hand-drive vehicle sales.

NOW READ: Lancia preparing for future no longer restricted to Italy

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