Lancia Ypsilon HF gets back to brand’s rally racer heritage

At the end of 1992, Lancia walked away from the Martini-sponsored Delta HF Integrale 8V race car and the World R ally Championship

a winner, drivers Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol delivering the Constructor’s Championship. We haven’t seen a racy factory-backed Lancia since, nor one that races. The dry spell is over, the Italians unveiling their new Ypsilon HF, the hot-hatch version of the standard Ypsilon, and a motorsports
version for FIA Group Rally4. Starting with the street car, it gets the powertrain shared with the Alfa Romeo Junior Veloce, a single electric motor turning the front axle. Instead of the e-motor making 154 horsepower as in the standard Ypsilon, the Ypsilon HF makes 237 hp, shortening the dash to 62 miles per hour to 5.8 seconds, which is 2.9 seconds quicker than the plain Ypsilon. 

Handling credentials get upgraded with a wider track and lowered suspension. The package is made to look the part with a sharper front fascia, the much larger lower intake bearing the HF logo and the side intakes getting black underlining. We haven’t been given a view of the rear, but we expect there are flourishes there as well, perhaps even the large black bumper seen on the rally racer. A set of six-spoke wheels complete the attitude adjustment.    

Because the World Rally Championship hasn’t gone electric yet — and gave up on hybrids after just three years — the Ypsilon Rally 4 HF slides a 1.2-liter three-cylinder gas-powered mill up front. That engine sends 209 hp to the front wheels through a five-speed transmission and a limited-slip differential. A pair of hood scoops aid engine cooling, a roof scoop at the top of the windshield does the same for driver and co-driver. The white, 15-spoke wheels look back to the multi-spoke wheels on the Delta Integrale, and we’ll be looking to the start line next year to see if the real racer gets Martini sponsorship. The way Lancia worded its press release, we suspect the Rally 4 car will also be pitched to privateers as “a serious candidate for drivers aspiring to victory in the R4 class and in the two-wheel drive championships.”

These two cars set the template for future HF makeovers already promised for the eventual Gamma crossover and reborn electric Delta. Another question we have, especially now that hybrids are taking the fore, is whether the Ypsilon with the mild-hybrid powertrain has a chance of getting the HF treatment. Lancia says the Ypsilon HF will go on sale in May 2025, there’s no word on the competition start for the Rally 4 HF.