text and photos by Henri Kern • see the 2009 Geneva show
I think I never saw so many people around Lancias. The stand was really crowded, and a lot of people were surprised to see Lancia with so many products. It was quite interesting to see their reactions.
Lancia launched the new Ypsilon here at Geneva. The car is really cute and mainly attracted women; men were more interested in the models near the car. The interior is not as good as it should have been, and looks cheaper than the Thema and Voyager.
The 2011 Chrysler 300C and Town & Country will be sold as the Lancia Thema and Voyager in Europe, apart from Great Britain and Ireland. Both cars are stunning, especially the 300C; the interior is a major step forward from the previous generation and can easily compete with the Germans. As with the Fiat Freemont, Lancia did change nothing on the cars, the only difference is the front spoiler, I’m not sure if the Chryslers have the same one.
The Lancia Flavia (Chrysler 200 in the US) was presented as a concept (the sedan and the convertible were both displayed), but production could start in 6 months. I have to admit that I was skeptical about the restyled Sebring, but the car looks pretty cool in person. From the three Chryslers rebadged as Lancias, it’s the one which fits the Italian style most. They used the exhaust that was on the Chrysler 200 S Concept shown at the NAIAS.
My only concern is about the Thema and the Voyager and these Lancia badges everywhere on the car, it simply doesn’t fit the style of the car. They are making a mistake by selling the cars as Lancias, because these cars scream America and the Italian badges are ruining it. I don’t know what kind of customers they are targeting, but certainly not the fans of Americans cars or the fans of Italians cars.
Before we had the Chrysler brand but we didn’t get the products, now they have the products but we don’t have the brand. When you read the press release from Lancia, it says that it’s the beginning of a new dynasty, the two brands are supposed to make one and only one brand. But right now I’ve heard no one who is not working for Fiat say that this was a good idea. Mopar fans here in Europe just lost an important brand. I don’t understand why they don’t stay stick to the plans they revealed in November 2009, to sell both brands under the same roof, Chrysler for the 300C and the Town and Country, Lancia for the small cars like the Delta and the Ypsilon. They could use the tagline “Imported from America” for the whole Chrysler brand instead of “Imported from Detroit” and made some great ad on TV.
I have nothing against Fiat or Lancia, I just bought a Fiat Bravo and I’m really happy with the car. I even made my mother buy a Delta. It’s just that I wish they would put as much energy in developing the Chrysler brand and the Dodge brand in Europe as they do with the Fiat and Alfa Romeo brands in the U.S.
Each of the products Jeep built were present at the Geneva Auto Show. The Grand Cherokee was the star, the luxury Jeep is on sale here since last fall but without a diesel engine. A new VM 3.0 diesel engine will make its debut in the Grand Cherokee, it will deliver 241 HP and fuel consumption should be 8.3 L/100km on a combined cycle (HW and City), CO2 emissions are reduced by 20% over the prior Diesel engine at 218g/km.
The Patriot and the new Compass are looking good but the interiors are still lagging behind the competition. They also displayed a Moparized Wrangler Call of Duty.
On the Dodge stand you could see the new 2011 Charger and a white 2011 Challenger SRT8 392. It’s really impressive what they did with the Charger, that car would be a massive hit here in Europe with a diesel. I just guess we don’t deserve it: near the Charger and the Challenger you could read on a panel that the cars were not sold in Europe. But I still prefer that than to see a Fiat Challenger appear one day.
At the Fiat stand, the main “attraction” was clearly the new Fiat Freemont, the Fiat version of the new Dodge Journey sold in the US. The changes are minimal: a huge Fiat badge at the front, a smaller one at the back, another one on the steering wheel and a diesel engine underneath the hood. The diesel is a 2.0 MultiJet 170 HP engine.
The other Fiat products were not that popular. Even the Fiat 500 Coupé Zagato Concept was barely noticed by the visitors, probably because it’s just another version of the Fiat 500.
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