04.03.2005 Highly rated by all that had seen the car prior to the Geneva Motor Show, the Lancia Ypsilon Sport by Zagato marks an important public statement for Lancia

Highly rated by all that had seen the car prior to the Geneva Motor Show, the Lancia Ypsilon Sport by Zagato marks an important public statement for Lancia. Whereas this is only a concept car, it gives a hint of what is in the pipeline for the luxury auto maker from Turin, namely the future not only lies with luxury vehicles, but with affordable sporty cars as well. Indeed, this marks Lancia’s return to the sportscar world, despite the Fulvia concept (a car still very much fresh in the minds of ‘Lancisti’ worldwide) doing exactly the same thing a little under two years ago at the 2003 Frankfurt IAA.

Created by the Zagato Design Centre, a design house closely related to Lancia’s glorious past, the Ypsilon Sport explores how the small little Ypsilon can evolve as a potent hot hatch. The model was designed with the aim of creating a car for everyday use, but one that would offer driving sensations of a real sports car given the right situation.

This is why the Ypsilon Sport maintains the cheeky elegant line of the basic model, which has proved very popular with the European public, livened up by a number of more dynamic and aggressive elements. A lot of these elements have been translated from the Fulvia concept, including the front air intake treatment.

More substantial changes have been made on the inside, and in fact most major parts have been totally redesigned.

But its under the bonnet where the prototype really sets its mark against the production Ypsilon. The Ypsilon Sport is fitted with a powerful 1.9 16v Multijet turbo diesel unit boosted to 150 bhp (110 kW at 4,100 rpm), with peak torque of 306 Nm at 2,000 rpm. Lancia state that such turbo diesels will dominate their sportscar field in the future.

The dimensions and architecture of the Lancia Ypsilon Sport are practically the same as those of the production model, but there are a few small yet significant details that transform the elegant production car into a real hot hatch. The prototype manages to be more muscular, more assertive and more powerful. The merit goes to the particular styling treatment which underlines the impression of a car that really 'grips the road'. This treatment has been achieved by modifying or completely replacing a number of external details.

For example, the aggressive front bumper contains many styling cues typical of Lancia-Zagato sports cars. The 'large' lower mouth on the new front bumper, necessary to cool the engine, is enhanced by hexagonal inserts typical of Zagato. The hexagon is repeated in the original dual exhaust tail-pipe which protrudes from the new rear bumper. And the car's sporty personality is clearly evident from the side, where the bumpers are linked to the special sideskirts by wheelarch moulding and chrome trim. The famous 'Z' logo of the Zagato Style Centre also decorates the centre pillar.

The rear end of the Lancia Ypsilon Sport is a logical conclusion to the styling exercise. The tailgate has been modified and adapted stylistically to reflect the car's innovative spirit. In fact, the tailgate and frame around the glass-house section has been finished in a matt black finish, very similar in the philosophy to the finish on the original Lancia Y’s tailgate from the 1980s.

But the most striking detail, stylistically speaking, is the roof, which is made entirely of glass, smoothly connecting the windscreen and the rear window together.

The styling of the lights and headlights has been altered slightly, and they continue to be perfectly integrated into the design of the original car. The alloy wheels on the other hand are entirely new, and were developed by the Lancia and Zagato Style Centres together with Toora. The pearlescent three-coat 'orange' paintwork is also new, and forms a modern interpretation of Lancia's traditional racing colours.

The interior of the Ypsilon Sport has also undergone numerous significant changes, as is expected from a car offering exciting performance combined with an extremely striking design. For example, the special steering wheel created by MOMO, reflects styling features of Lancia and Zagato: the technical structure with visible metal reinforcements (painted aluminium), on which the leather-covered rim is mounted, concealing the airbag module. The whole effect is completed by analogue instrumentation with red lighting, a colour always associated with sports cars.

To emphasise its sporty vocation even more, the new Ypsilon Sport offers seats with additional containment designed and built with the Lear Corporation. The front seats have a painted carbon structure that supports a light shell, covered with fibreglass and carbon which the upholstery adheres to.

click here for Lancia Ypsilon Sport Zagato at the 2005 Geneva Salon
click here for Lancia Ypsilon Sport Zagato at the 2005 Geneva Salon

click here for Lancia Ypsilon Sport Zagato at the 2005 Geneva Salon

The rear seats have been designed around a bearing structure of painted carbon into which two upholstered fibreglass and carbon shells have been inserted. This technique creates futuristic styling, combined with unequalled sturdiness and lightness, while guaranteeing excellent comfort in the rear.

The particular shape of the seats also meant changing the styling and overall structure of the interior. With its essential, clean lines, the passenger compartment is still elegant and refined, but it now has that touch of sportiness that is expected from a sporty Lancia. And finally, in order to make the structure lighter and give it a more 'technical' and innovative imprint, some elements have been eliminated, including the centre console. The facia and door panels have been redesigned.

The chrome details in the interior give a hand-crafted effect, and the details appear to be made from light aluminium and turned on a lathe. The upper woodwork on the ceiling recalls the opaque metallic treatment of the exterior. And to conclude the many changes to the Lancia Ypsilon Sport, the new carpet is made of a technical material containing chamois leather and rubber.

The prototype presented in Geneva has a decidedly sporty temperament, that evolves from its clean, essential design (and thus also elegant and attractive), that has made the production Ypsilon a success. But the makeover of the Lancia Ypsilon Sport must not be seen as a mere styling exercise, because the car has been tested on the race track where it proved its worth.

Suffice it to say that the prototype, equipped with the brilliant 150 bhp 1.9 Multijet engine and a manual 6-speed gearbox, has a top speed of 212 km/h, accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.9 seconds and covers a kilometre in 28.9 seconds. Acceleration is also outstanding: 5.3 seconds to accelerate from 60 to 100 km/h (in 5th) and 7.3 seconds from 80 to 120 km/h (in 6th).

Someone who enjoys driving, will find that the 'small' Ypsilon by Zagato is a compact car that behaves brilliantly on any road, always gratifying the driver. Added to this, the prototype offers better performance, greater braking capacity, and the dynamic behaviour of a car built for circuit racing. This is also the result of re-setting the suspension with new springs and racing dampers. A front strut has also been inserted to increase torsional rigidity, while the bushes have been replaced by another, stiffer type that is more suitable for racing. And finally, to enhance handling, the set-up has been lowered by 15 millimetres and the diameter of the anti-roll bar has been increased to make it more suitable for the car's sporty performance, without losing any of the comfort that is such an important feature of the Ypsilon.

The geometry of the suspension and the sports trim guarantee outstanding dynamic performance, helped by the generous 205/40 R17 Pirelli PZero Nero tyres which have a special mixture and guarantee better stability on bends and greater absorption of surface irregularities and of vibration.

The technical features are completed by the braking system, specially developed by TRW, with 4 disc brakes: boosted to 320 mm at the front, with floating calipers and a single piston, while those at the rear have a diameter of 240 mm. The electric power steering has also been modified to adapt it to the stress induced by the car's performance. And, to enhance driving safety, the Ypsilon Sport adopts a special TRW-designed VDC system, which can be turned off, as is traditional on sports cars.

The Lancia Ypsilon Sport is sure to attract anyone who appreciates a car with great personality and appeal, even if it is still experimental. And today Lancisti are still distinguished by the extraordinary passion and enthusiasm that they share with the people who design, test and build Lancia cars. Lancia remains one of the few makes of car that are supported by demanding fans who appreciate beauty but are also well informed where sophisticated technology is concerned. There is a common denominator that links all Lancia cars: a constant striving for innovation combined with exclusive Italian craftsmanship. Research that is essential not only for the spirit of the brand but also for the technological progress of the car. Underlined by hundreds of patents filed, resourceful inventions, and practical ideas developed by Lancia in almost one hundred years.

Collaboration agreements with some of the most famous Italian coachbuilders have contributed to this extraordinary human and technological heritage. Zagato is one of them; the designer from Milan specialises in sports cars, and since 1925 has customised numerous Lancia models with his creative touch, from the Lancia Lambda to the Aprilia Sport, the Flavia Sport 1.8, Fulvia Spider and Flaminia Sport. They were all cars derived from standard models which already embodied 'elegant sportiness' and which were transformed with expert, personal stylistic and mechanical changes. The bodywork was no longer a 'dress', but an integral part of the structure, and the craftsman responsible for the shape of the car made way for the designer. Today, this same spirit is evident in the styling of the Ypsilon Sport.

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The real focus of attention on the Lancia stand in Geneva next week will be the new Lancia Ypsilon Sport concept car, an original prototype, developed with the Zagato Design Centre