Lancia Delta Final Edition test drive: The best B road car?
The final edition of the rallying monster was designed by Italians, sold to Japan, but seems most at home in Britain
The Lancia Delta actually had quite humble beginnings, but by the end of its life it was a four-wheel drive, 250-horsepower, road eating beast that went under the name of the Integrale Final Edition, and was exclusive to the Japanese market. There's an odd story for what was actually quite an odd car, as YouTuber Mr JWW explains in his latest video.
Back in 1979, Lancia introduced the Delta as a family car, but rallying led to it becoming one of the most iconic hot hatches in history. It tasted success during the controversial Group B era, then swept the floor for six years running in Group A, despite being a relatively small company.
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The rallying success not only made Lancia “part of the fabric and culture of Italy,” where people would “bow down” if they saw you driving one, according to Mr JWW, but also cultivated a hardcore Japanese fanbase. These fans were rewarded with the final 250 first-generation Deltas in ‘94, which came with 500-hp, a burgundy finish with blue-and-yellow stripe down the center of the car and special badging.
One feature about the car’s appearance makes it a joy on the road: its size. Far smaller than most hatchbacks today, and also far lighter, it means “you can thread this [car] down a country road like nothing else.” Mr JWW even goes as far as saying it’s an Italian car built for British B roads.
With experience of a wider array of performance vehicles, Mr JWW draws comparisons to the similarly turbocharged Ferrari F40 when describing the Delta on the road.
“[Firstly,] it has this go-kart-like, pitched forward steering wheel, that for me could do with a spacer in it to bring it towards your chest,” explains Mr JWW in the video.
“But other than that, once you’ve spent five minutes in it you feel at home. It’s got a wonderful driving position. Thankfully, unlike the F40, the pedals are fairly straight. slightly offest, but no big deal.
“Secondly, loads of lag. This is a heavily turbocharged car. Unlike the F40 this is fairly quiet, more wind and lumps and bumps than engine noise.” In the video this is especially notable, with wind buffeting drowning out the mechanics even when Mr JWW is deploying all of the car’s performance.
“It’s incredibly collectible, but also incredibly usable, so lots of miles on them. This one has 64,000 km [39,767 miles].”
Although there is off throttle oversteer, the car doesn’t understeer when pushed, and the turbo lag can be utilized on corner exit if you time your throttle foot right. Mr JWW repeatedly refers to talking to the car through the tires, which despite its beastly performance, means it's compliant on even the worst of road surfaces that British winters can bring up.
There’s no doubt Mr JWW is impressed, and it’s an enjoyable watch too. The YouTuber is now a father, and the Delta could be the way he introduces his new son to motoring.
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