Lancia today unveils the Delta HPE concept, a sleek wagon claimed to mix luxury, practicality and performance.
The new Delta will slot into the Lancia range next year and relaunch the brand in the UK, providing a mid-range model that's not far off a BMW 3-series in size. The HPE concept reveals the new face of the Delta family, with a deep, chrome radiator grille and claw-shaped headlamps. The front end, shooting brake concept and silver-grey paintjob are strikingly reminiscent of Rover's TCV concept, the stillborn project conceived in 2002 to replace the 45. All rather appropriate, considering Lancia is the Rover of Italy: thoroughly mainstream, but with delusions of grandeur and a dwindling, middle-class clientele.
The big news is that the production Delta – due on sale in 2007 – will spawn a high-performance Integrale version, within two years. Expect four-wheel drive and a power output close to 300bhp. Cooking Deltas will run turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, kicking out between 120 and 200bhp, coupled to six-speed manual and robotised gearboxes. The 4.5m-long Delta HPE has a long 2700mm wheelbase, which Lancia claims treats rear passengers to limousine-like space. The rear seats also slide backwards to add precious extra inches of legroom. Slide the rear bulkhead the other way and some 400 litres of cargo can be accommodated. The Delta HPE takes its inspiration from the Beta 'high performance estate', a 1970s shooting brake.
• For a celebration of classic Lancias, check out our three-page special in the October 2006 issue of CAR, out now