June 22, 2024

Lancia Makes a Comeback to Rallying with Its First Hot Hatch in Decades, and It’s Impressive

Despite being what the company has become best known for, it’s been decades since Lancia last produced a true performance hatchback — not exactly surprising given it’s only sold one car for the past decade anyway. That’s finally changing next year with the roadworthy Ypsilon HF, a fully electric performance version of Lancia’s stylish new hatchback, and the HF is spawning a racing iteration that will compete in the Rally4 class.

Lancia hasn’t disclosed many details or images of the Ypsilon HF yet, as it won’t be available until May 2025, but from what we can see it looks incredible. The front-wheel-drive Ypsilon HF will generate 240 horsepower, nearly 100 more than the standard car, which is adequate for it to reach 62 mph in 5.8 seconds. Additional performance enhancements will include a lowered suspension and larger, wider wheels; anticipate other adjustments to the steering, brakes, and other components.

This is the roadworthy Ypsilon HF
Photo: Lancia

The HF really looks the part too, with impressive three-spoke wheels, wider fender flares, larger intakes, and a variety of black trim. Inside, you’ll find vibrant blue seats with red perforations and a diagonal pattern, along with numerous HF emblems and badges.

It’s fantastic to see the HF branding make a return, especially as the elephant logo is one of the most endearing and iconic in automotive history. It first appeared in 1960, all thanks to a group of enthusiastic owners. According to Lancia:

Returning to stand out on the Lancia Ypsilon HF, the HF logo is the historic signature of high-performance Lancia models, originally introduced during the 1960 Geneva Motor Show, when a group of passionate Lancia car owners founded the “Lancia Hi-Fi” (‘High Fidelity’) club, an exclusive meeting point for the brand’s most loyal customers and especially for people who had purchased at least six new Lancia cars. The HF logo then became a hallmark of the HF Squadra Corse Lancia, founded in 1963 by Cesare Fiorio together with drivers and passionate owners of Lancia cars, and was used as the ‘signature’ for many of the brand’s victories.

The historic logo was made up of HF in white capital letters on a black background, with four red running elephants underscored by the wording “SQUADRA CORSE” in white on red. The little elephant was chosen as a lucky charm, based on the legend that once let loose, these creatures are unstoppable, making them a symbol of performance and driving pleasure. Unveiled in March in its revisited version, the new HF logo reinterprets its historical counterpart with a contemporary flair: all the constituent elements of the brand symbolize Lancia tradition and are now simplified in terms of lines and shapes in a new balance that expresses innovation, premiumness, and the Italian spirit, with a touch of eclecticism in full respect of the brand’s unmistakable geometries.

In terms of the rally edition of the Ypsilon HF, it shares its platform and powertrain with the Opel Corsa and Peugeot 208 rally cars. Rally4 is the introductory class in rally racing, featuring homologated two-wheel-drive cars that have a power-to-weight ratio of 5.1 kg per horsepower. The Rally4 Ypsilon HF boasts a turbocharged 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine, which in the Opel produces 212 hp and 214 lb-ft of torque, paired with a 5-speed sequential gearbox and a mechanical limited-slip differential.

Rear 3/4 view of a Lancia Ypsilon HF Rally4

Photo: Lancia

Lancia showcased the Ypsilon HF Rally4 in its iconic Martini livery, and the rally car features a cool set of wheels, large hood vents, and a roof scoop. Interestingly, the bumper design and some other styling elements don’t completely align with the road car, but that could change by the time the car is ready for competition. Lancia states that the Ypsilon HF Rally4 is “the perfect choice for all rally enthusiasts to enjoy but is also a serious contender for drivers aiming for victory in the R4 class and in the two-wheel drive championships.”

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Lancia introduce variants of the Ypsilon to compete in some of the higher rally classes, but the company could also do so with other vehicles: In the coming years, Lancia will introduce a Gamma flagship crossover as well as a new Delta, both of which will feature electric powertrains and undoubtedly receive HF versions. The idea of a car named Lancia Delta participating in rallying has me excited.

Front bumper of a Lancia Ypsilon HF

Photo: Lancia

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