NEW CAR FILE: LANCIA DEDRA

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NEW CAR FILE: LANCIA DEDRA

Lancia is making a concerted effort to capture a larger slice of the executive saloon market with the launch of the Dedra on March 1. This new car will be available with three different engine sizes; 1.6,1.8, and 2.0 litres. Lancia anticipate that the 1.8 and 2.0 litre cars will sell more readily and so 80% — 90% of the cars available will be of these two engine sizes. With 50% of the projected import figures going to the new Dedra it is apparent that Lancia are counting on this model to carry their flag in the new decade.

Lancia claim that the car is classical in appearance, and certainly the styling of the front emphasises the heritage of the car. It has been styled in such a way as to compete well in its sector of the market. It is refined and elegant. The low front clearly contributes to the lack of drag (it has a Cd of 0.29), but the tail of the car is disappointing. It is too high and hastily finished in comparison to the considered lines of the rest of the car.

The interior by contrast is very pleasing. Controls are thoughtfully positioned so that, whilst driving, they can all be reached without gazing dangerously downwards. The instrumentation comprises a clock, oil pressure, oil temperature, water temperature, and fuel guages, speedometer and tachometer. All are sensibly positioned and easy to read. The seat was one of the most comfortable I have ever sat in, but was let down by the typically Italian fault of providing very little room between the steering wheel and pedals. Despite the height adjustable steering column one’s knees are too close to the lower half of the wheel. The five-speed gearbox was smooth and easy to use, though not particularly fast. In fact the change on the 1.8 was slightly better than on the 2.0 litre, but that might be the result of one ‘box having worn in slightly faster than the other. The 1.8 and 2.0 litre models have power-assisted steering, which is responsive although the feedback is a little vague at speed. Disc brakes on all four wheels are again standard for the upper two models, and the braking ability was very impressive even if

the pedal was rather light.

At the heart of all three models is a four cylinder injected engine running on unleaded fuel. Each engine has an ‘integrated ignition and injection electronic management system’. Power output for the 1580cc single point fuel injection engine is 90 bhp at 5800 rpm. Maximum speed is 112 mph, and fuel consumption is 51.4 mpg at 56 mph. The 1756cc and 1995cc engines have multi-point fuel injection and twin overhead camshafts. Their respective power outputs are 110 bhp at 6000 rpm and 120 bhp at 5750rpm. Both the engines have two rotating balancer shafts which turn at twice crankshaft speed in opposite directions. This is in order to give the four cylinder engines a smoother operation, and it seemed to work well at low engine speed. However taking the revs above 4000 was a fairly noisy affair, although not unpleasantly so.

Performance from the 2.0 litre is brisk but not startling. Overtaking is comparatively easy on straights of a reasonable length, and it has a top speed of 124 mph. 0-62 mph (a fairly meaningless figure at the best of times) takes 9.6 seconds. All models possess all-round independent suspension, and the top model, the 2.0 litre SE, has automatic suspension control which adjusts damper settings according to road conditions and speed. The handling is good and the ride is firm but comfortable. The car will cope with being driven hard on country roads, and inspires confidence as to its directional stability in cornering.

Lancia believes that the quality of the car will overcome the rather dire sounding name, and they could well be right. It is a well-considered upmarket saloon, with few significant shortcomings. Although I didn’t drive the 1.6 I would suspect that it might be slightly underpowered. Even then it will be a comfortable, stylish car with good handling and brakes, and a pleasant gearbox. The 1.8 and more so the 2.0 litre have all this plus a fair amount of go.

Prices range from £10,695 to £15,395.

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