Lancia boss says 'a true Delta' is on the way

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In 2015, a year after the most recent Lancia Delta resurrection had been mercifully killed and the same year Lancia was spared the additional indignity of selling rebadged Chrysler 200s and 300s in Europe, the once legendary make had one car for sale: The Ypsilon compact hatch. Autocar reported then that "a number of higher-ups within the Fiat-Chrysler consortium are pushing for a comeback of the legendary Lancia Delta in Integrale form." Six years later, the still-once-legendary make still has just one car on sale, the Ypsilon hatch, and only in Italy. That will change over the next few years, with plans to launch three new vehicles throughout Europe by 2028. According to Lancia brand boss Luca Napolitano in an interview with Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper (translated), one of those three vehicles will be "a true Delta: an exciting car, a manifesto of progress and technology. And obviously it will be electric."

As the Autocar report proves, this has been in the making for a while. The possibility of a new Lancia Delta got much closer in May, when Stellantis boss Carlos Tavares gave Alfa Romeo and Lancia 10 years to prove their value to the group. By June, Lancia's plan rested on two approved models and a third under discussion: A new generation of the Ypsilon, its last internal combustion offering; a battery-electric compact crossover in 2026; and a potential compact hatchback positioned above the Ypsilon. Connecting dots, that compact hatch would be the Delta.

There are two important things to know about this. One, we have no idea if Napolitano's Delta is the rally-chomping Delta S4 and Stradale and HF Integrale models everyone thinks of when they hear "Delta." In fact, the Delta wasn't the Delta until late into its life, and was only that Delta for a short time. From its introduction in late 1979 until 1986, it was a mild-mannered hatchback whose performance versions produced about 103 horsepower. Then the rally specials ticked off six World Rally Championship Constructor's Titles in a row from 1987 to 1992. Then Lancia decided to throw all that cachet out by making a mature, upmarket, front-wheel drive, second-gen Delta in 1993, that wet rag limping on until being dragged behind the woodshed in 1999. The name returned in 2008 as a premium hatchback and did just as poorly, killed again in 2014.

Sure, Napolitano must understand what the public has in mind, especially because three Italian companies have made magnificent hay resurrecting Lancia rally legends, one of them a Delta. But his comments to the paper said Lancia will aim at the high-end market of older, modern, male clientele, and the brand is planning its strategy around sales in important European cities "in synergy with" Alfa Romeo and DS, Citroen's luxury brand. So we must wait to see what the new Delta becomes, and if it has room for something that truly channels the Delta of old.

The second important thing to know is that because the words "compact hatchback" and "United States" are about as successful together as "politician" and "didn't realize his mic was on," naturally, we shouldn't expect any Delta to make it over here. But just knowing there's a proper Delta alive somewhere will be enough.

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