Lancia Y10

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—a “piccola” surprise

In Italy and France the Y10 will be called an Autobianchi, elsewhere in Europe the Lancia Autobianchi Y10. It may not be the best of starts for a promising mini-size newcomer from the Fiat group, but success in the UK market is going to transform Lancar’s ailing fortunes from Jane onwards. The Heron Group company will follow up with the Thema models in the autumn, spelling out that Lancia’s UK registrations can only go one way… up!

Lancia make no bones about calling the Y10 an ideal second car for people who want prestige finish and fittings. The seats are luxurious, the instrumentation comprehensive, and the more expensive versions will have such items as central locking and power-assisted windows.

The packaging of the 11 ft 1½ in car is very neat, with expansive glass area, flush glass, and a markedly wedge-shaped body boasting a drag coefficient of 0.31. Lancar expect to sell three versions at between £4,500 and £5,700, ranging from the 45 bhp “Fire” engine model to the 85 bhp Turbo, with the 1,050 cc normally aspirated version (55 bhp) in between.

All three have a five-speed gearbox (with double selector rods for easier gearchanging), rack and pinion steering, disc / drum brakes with a powerful servo, MacPherson strut front suspension and an interesting “omega” rear suspension system with long trailing arms hinged at the centre, with variable rate bushing.

The omega suspension makes no demands on interior or boot space, and rear loading is made easier by pantograph type hinges on the door, swinging it forwards as it goes up.

Even the 45 bhp version of the Y10 is quick enough to be mildly interesting, and smoothness is a notable feature. A maximum speed of 90 mph is achieved without any strain, while the Brazilian Fiat origin 1,050 cc, 55 bhp model is quite entertaining. Though seen primarily as commuting cars, the piccola Lancias certainly wouldn’t make a chore of longer journeys.

A top speed of 111 mph, and a dash to 60 mph in around 9.5 sec, will mark the Turbo version out as a latter day Mini Cooper. Performance is good throughout the range, the little IHI turbocharger, allied to a Weber twin-choke carburetter, giving the top model potent acceleration even at 80 mph or more.

Stiffer dampers and wider tyres (155 section rather than 135) seem not to spoil the excellent ride, one of the YIO’s best features — especially when compared with other short wheelbase “mini GT’ models like the Fiesta XR2. Designed for the more sophisticated customer, perhaps already a Lancia owner, the Y10 is quicker, quieter and more comfortable than most rivals.

Judging by the number of top-spec Pains, Metros and Fiestas sold in Britain, there is a clear market for the little Lancia with some excellent features built in, rather than added Lancar’s plans to import 2,000 in the second half of 1985 should not be too optimistic. — M.L.C.