Road Impressions:

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Lancia Y10 Turbo

While the Ford Sierra 4×4 was having its first 6,000-mile service (in which mileage it had given no trouble of any kind and shown few flaws, apart from the hand-brake needing a good tug to hold the car on the hills and the engine exhibiting a very slight start-up reluctance, and it was returning 27.6 mpg and using very little oil) I was able to try the Lancia Y10 in turbocharged form. Having always had the highest regard for the Lancia Aurelia and Aprilia, in the context of their time, sampling the latest small car with the famous Italian name promised well. Lancia have made small-engined cars before, the 905 cc Ardea and the 1,090 cc Appia, so the 1,090 cc Y10 is a logical successor.

I used it first on the long but familiar run from London EC to mid-Wales and it proved very quick indeed, both in respect of high average speed and notable performance. It is necessary to keep the revs up, because nothing very spectacular happens below 3,000 rpm and it is better to keep things turning at above 4,000 rpm, but then, allowing for some turbo lag, the pickup is both exhilarating and a surprise to many drivers of much larger cars. In fact, the little Lancia really excels at the upper echelons of the intermediate acceleration ranges, for 0-60 mph, and similar exercises, show it to be inferior to the Ford Fiesta XR2, for instance, and not all that much quicker than a Vauxhall Nova XR. But for closing the gap between 50 and 70 mph and such like, without changing out of top gear, it really comes into its own as a little flyer. Top speed does not matter much, but here it is as quick, at nearly 108 mph, as almost any small car except the Ford Fiesta XR2. The Y10’s five-speed gearbox has sensible ratios and the Japanese IHI turbocharger punches the output of the very over-square (76 x 57.8 mm) engine to 85 bhp at 5,750 rpm and produces 90 lb/ft torque at 2,750 rpm.

It was in the hoped-for refinement that the Y10 was a disappointment, especially remembering my enthusiasm for the Aprilia. The need to keep the engine revving meant making frequent use of the gearbox but the change was baulky, notchy and rubbery, with a short lever, although the clutch was light. The seat-belt was anchored high up, which I found rather unpleasant, the pedals were considerably off-set to the left, and the suspension gave a very lumpy ride over all but the smoothest surfaces. No doubt the front MacPherson-struts and the clever coil-sprung, trailing-arm, centrally-­pivoted Omega rear suspension have to be stiff to give good cornering qualities, but for a so-called luxury small-car the ride is not sufficiently comfortable. Having said that, I admit that the Y10 Turbo Lancia goes round corners very well, with some roll, but securely, so that in spite of coming directly off a larger 4WD car I did not tip it up! There is very mild understeer when really going, and the front wheels lose real grip if quick acceleration from rest is needed, in spite of being shod with 13″ Michelin MXV tyres. The driving compartment isn’t cramped but there is not much space behind, or boot-wise. Then things like sun­roof, split rear seat, central-locking, electric ­windows and alloy wheels are lacking, and you have to open the rear side-windows manually, although you do get manual­-adjustment of the external rear-view mirrors and headlamps wipers, a facia check-panel with 17 warning lights covering essential services, spot-lamps, tow-hooks, Vegliaflash digital clock and map light. 

The chopped-of( appearance of the Y10 is distinctive, and rather fun if you regard it as a baby Ferrari “bread-van”. Normally the short bonnet is invisible and you view the road ahead through a very large windscreen. The single-blade wiper works well but parks rather high on the driver’s side. The easily hinged front-seat squabs make up for the two-door body when carrying extra passengers, and the tail-gate can be released by a driver’s lever, as on Japanese cars, to avoid using the single key. The plastic cover over the tail-gate lock was unattached and consequently fell off. The front seats must be called comfortable, and there is an attempt at luxury trim by using Alcantara imitation-suede surrounds on doors and facia, and hiding the Blaupunkt radio and Cambridge 23 stereo-player in a lidded cupboard. The other lidded apertures are the rather shallow cubby and driver’s cupboard, and neither of these lock.

The instrumentation includes fuel, heat, oil-pressure and oil-temperature gauges to supplement the neat tachometer (red-lined at 6,000 rpm) and speedometer, and there is a difficult-to-read boost-gauge or economy dial on the right of the facia console. Engine­heat is normally just below 90 deg, oil­ temperature approximately 50 deg and oil­ pressure 4 bar. There is a manual choke­-cum-hand-throttle, but, even so, the engine tended to be a reluctant commencer. The aforesaid cubby-hole is supplemented by an open central-well ahead of the gaitered gear-lever, and tight door-pockets. The central panel. of the facia carries tiny push-buttons for rear fog-lamp, spot-lamps, rear-­demister, rear wipe/wash, which is very effective, and hazard-warning, and the heater has further buttons for direction of flow and screen-demisting, the amount of heat/air being controlled by rocking to the required extent two small toggle levers, for electronic selection, lights indicating what has been achieved. In the absence of an instruction-book it took me a long time to learn to drive this rather enchanting but distracting system.

The Y10 Turbo is a combination of Brazilian build and Lancia, Fiat and Japanese. techniques. It is not as impressive as I had expected, but on a long open-road journey it comes into its own, being very quick and less of an effort to drive fast. It has a small four-spoke steering wheel (its notched-end spokes slightly reminiscent of those of a 1914 GP Vauxhall) giving a clear view of the dials on the compact facia panel. The bonnet-release for the rear-hinged bonnet-lid is on the driver’s side and the dip-stick is commendably accessible. The spare wheel is in the engine compartment. The steering is by rack-and-pinion, geared 3.4 turns, lock-to-lock.

The Lancia Y10 may not be as refined as Lancia cars were before the war and its gearchange cannot compare with the quick, well-weighted change of an Aprilia, but with the extras provided by a £500 additional package it begins to meet Lancia’s claim that this Cd 0.31 low-drag, 133 kg little car marks Lancia’s re-entry into the luxury small-car market. In turbo form it is undoubtedly a Fun-Box, and competitively priced at £5,795, but I am not convinced about the so-called “big-car ride”, and fuel consumption, checked over a considerable mileage of mixed motoring, much of it well wound-up, was rather below average, at 29.3 mpg. The tank holds 47 litres and its flush-fitting cap is lock-secured. There is a 12,000-mile main servicing interval and a three-year guarantee, which can be supplemented with a six-year anti-corrosion warranty by Dinol Protection Ltd. -WB.

  

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