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The new Delta is Chrysler's first five-door model since the PT Cruiser and will compete against sector standard-bearers such as the VW Golf and Ford Focus.
The car is a Lancia Delta, already on sale in Europe, that's been rebadged to carry the American manufacturer's branding in the UK. Fiat Group owns Lancia and recently took a majority stake in Chrysler, which explains the crossover. Conversely, the deal also means that Chrysler cars such as the Grand Voyager will be rebadged Lancia in Europe.
There's a 1.4 petrol offering either 120hp or 140hp, the latter incorporating Fiat's impressive Multiair engine, alongside 1.6 120hp and 2.0 165hp diesels. The lower-powered diesel or the 1.4 Multi-air are likely to be the biggest fleet sellers, according to Chrysler senior product manager Steve Mirfin.
The brand is pushing luxury and space when it comes to this car. Space is ample, with a sliding back seat that leaves an odd gap to the parcel shelf covered by some extendable load covers when shifted forwards. However, if 'luxury' means competing with premium brands such as BMW or Audi, then there's a long way to go. For example, the plastics look cheap in parts. Still, the interior is satisfactory and at least refreshingly different to the sector norms.
Ride and handling on the 1.6 120hp diesel, driven here, is decent if not as admirable as a VW Golf or Ford Focus, while steering is on the light side. The manual offers 122g/km CO2, while the auto drops to 120g/km. That's not bad on the emissions front, but in this competitive field, the nearest equivalent Golf at 119g/km or the Focus at 109g/km wins. The Delta costs 47.3 pence per mile to run versus the Golf's 1.6 TDI 105 Match at 45.1ppm and the Focus' 1.6 TDI 115 Zetec at 43.2ppm. However, the Delta offers the most power so there is some pay-off.
The Delta is essentially a family hatchback, but is far from conservative in the looks department. It's likely to be a Marmite sort of car, and will no doubt appeal to some - Chrysler predicts around 2500 in its first full year - if not many. However, if that styling takes your fancy then this is a credible alternative to the small family car, although making fleet managers take note could be a difficult task.