AMERICAN TRY (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Introductionword count: 93
In 2011, Chrysler used its Latin links to bring us what was billed as its first truly class-competitive family hatchback. The spacious Delta was a re-badged version of an existing Lancia model, that car based on a Fiat Bravo. A convoluted parentage then, for a family hatch that aimed to offer a premium feel at an affordable price to Focus-class customers in search of something a little different. A rare, but rather interesting choice that makes an interesting used car buy in this market segment - if you can find a good one.
Modelsword count: 21
5dr family hatchback (1.4 T-Jet petrol 120bhp, 1.4 MultiAir petrol 140bhp, 1.6 MultiJet II diesel 120bhp, 1.6 MultiJet II diesel 165bhp)
Historyword count: 325
Chrysler has rarely been able to offer European buyers a truly class-competitive compact family car. Not that it hasn't tried. Between 1996 and 2004, the brand tried to sell us two generations of the forgettable Neon saloon, which was then followed by the quirky PT Cruiser compact MPV. Nothing though, that an up-market Focus or Astra buyer would give a second glance to. That changed though in 2011 with the launch of the car we're going to look at here as a prospective used buy, the Chrysler Delta. It doesn't look very American does it? That's because it isn't. This model was launched everywhere else in Europe as a Lancia in 2008 but as a righthand drive market ignoring the Lancia franchise, the UK didn't get it. Fast forward to 2011 and someone in Turin got the bright idea of re-badging the Lancia Delta as a Chrysler, then selling the resultant product through Chrysler's established British dealer network. So the Chrysler Delta was born. A bit of background to this car might help in understanding it. Lancia, if you didn't know, is Fiat's upmarket brand, just as Audi is essentially the up-market face of Volkswagen. So just as an Audi A3 is essentially a plusher, smarter Volkswagen Golf underneath, so a Lancia Delta is essentially a plusher, smarter Fiat Bravo. No bad thing: in the 2011 to 2015 period, the Bravo was a very under-estimated family hatch with some class-leading engines. Given a little Latin luxury, the feeling was that this design could, recreated as the Delta, be exactly the kind of car Chrysler needed to re-launch itself into the volume heart of the British car market. A car with beauty, space, quality and luxury at an affordable price. That was the idea anyway. Unfortunately, it didn't quite turn out that way. British buyers were suspicious of this model and relatively few were sold before the Chrysler brand itself disappeared from the UK in 2015.
What You Getword count: 632
Perhaps it's appropriate that apart from the badge, there's nothing very American about the look of this car. After all, in the modern era of Fiat Group ownership, there's nothing very American about Chrysler and we can't help but think that to be a good thing. We've had quirky compact cars from the brand in the past but nothing very avant garde: nothing like this. It has a rather unique style, originally penned by Frank Stevenson who would later become Design Director for McLaren supercars, a man also well known for his work on distinctive models like the MINI and the Fiat 500. Here again, there's something that'll make the neighbours peer over the hedge into your driveway, extrovert swooping lines highlighted by radically raked side windowsills. Above them, there's a curvy floating roof fractionally suspended above the top of the C-pillars and flowing back into a tail section that wears darkened glass like a pair of sunshades, framed by slim LED tail light clusters. It won't be to everyone's taste, but it certainly makes your average Focus or Astra look very dull indeed. Under the trendy two-tone panelwork and sharply-creased surfaces lies a Fiat Bravo platform that's been extended by a wheelbase 100mm longer, creating a car that inside, is a lot bigger than it looks, something you notice most taking a seat in the rear. The most notable feature here is a rear bench that can slide backwards or forwards by up to 150mm to prioritise either legroom of rear luggage space. Push the seat right back and it really is very spacious indeed: a six foot four inch passenger could comfortably sit behind someone of the same height. If there's a more comfortable family hatch-class car for rear seat passengers on the market, then you'll struggle to find it. Better still, you can also recline the backrest by up to 25-degrees for greater comfort on longer trips. If on the other hand, you're prioritising bootspace and push the bench to its most forward position, then lifting the rear hatch and negotiating the rather high loading lip reveals a massive 465-litre space: compare that to the feeble 316-litres you get in a Ford Focus or the 350-litres you get in a Golf. Even if you pull the seat back for limo-like legroom, this Delta can still offer more space than those rivals, with a healthy 380-litres on offer. Under the boot floor, there's a hidden compartment for valuables and of course you can push the 60:40 split-folding seat forward - unfortunately, it doesn't fold quite flat - to reveal up to 1190-litres of fresh air. At the wheel, the designers have attempted to imbue this car with an upper class air, promising the sort of high end materials and build quality downsizing buyers will be used to in compact executive cars. So materials such as leather and suede-like Alcantara are used extensively, at least on plusher models. Even more basic trimmed variants feel quite nice thanks to the use of Benova, a soft premium textile used previously only by more prestigious brands. Flagship variants even get a dashboard trimmed in soft Poltrona Frau leather. It's all very nice but the basic design around the cabin doesn't have the hewn-from-granite feel that you'd find in something German - or the high-tech of a French or Japanese rival. Maybe that's a good thing: this sector needs something a bit different. But it's also true to say that this cabin could do without the cheaper plastic fittings - the handbrake for example - that are unwelcome reminders of just how affordable this car actually is. Ignore them: enjoy the little touches. The chrome-trimmed door handles, the 'Chrysler'-logoed head restraints, the slow-sprung return on the glovebox and grab handles. And relax into sensible luxury.
To see the full road test text contact us on 0330 0020 227
Pictures (high res disabled)
Scoring (subset of scores)
Category: Compact Family Cars
|Styling, Build, Value, Equipment, Depreciation, Handling, Insurance and Total scores are available with our full data feed.|