The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 2.6
The Ypsilon looks very distinctive, but it has too many drawbacks for us to recommend it over most other superminis.
Reasons to buy
- Stand-out styling
- Economical, with engine stop-start as standard
- Characterful 0.9-litre petrol engine
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
Perhaps the biggest attraction of the Ypsilon is the way it looks: it’s a boldly styled small car, and is even available with two-tone paint finishes and a black tailgate in case you don’t think it’s already noticeable enough. Every model apart from the basic S comes with standard alloy wheels, spoiler and front foglights, while on the top S-Series models the alloys, grille and tailgate are black, and you can also choose to have the bonnet and roof painted black as options.
What's the interior like?
The Ypsilon’s cabin is a triumph of form over function. It certainly looks and feels stylish with its super-soft dashboard and door cappings and – if you bypass the basic S-level model – posh upholstery and bits of leather trim. However, the instruments are in the centre of the dash rather than ahead of the driver, so they’re not easy to see at a glance. And, some important information, such as the display advising you of the best time to change up a gear, is hidden by the steering wheel rim. To make matters worse, the driver’s seat is high-set even in its lowest setting, the steering wheel adjusts only for height, and there’s not a lot of room for the driver’s feet.
How practical is it?
The Chrysler Ypsilon does at least cater pretty well for those in the front seats, with plenty of headroom and legroom, but it’s nothing like as good in the rear. Kneeroom is tight and headroom is not much better because of the way the sides curve inwards towards the top of the doors. What’s more, not every version is a five-seater: the Ypsilon S has only two (50/50 split) rear seats, while SE and S-Series models have three, split 60/40. To cap it all, the boot is smaller than those of most rival superminis, and while you can fold the rear seats down, they leave a big step in the floor.
What's it like to drive?
On the road, the Ypsilon is a disappointment. The simple message is: if you want a small car you can have some fun in, buy a Ford Fiesta. Not only does the Ypsilon have an uncomfortable ride, but the soft suspension leads to lots of body roll, and the side is further let down by the high levels of road and wind noise at even quite modest speeds.
How powerful is it?
There’s a decent selection of engines on offer – two petrol and one diesel. The basic 1.2-litre petrol unit really isn’t strong enough for the car, feeling frustratingly slow at all times. The more powerful 0.9-litre two-cylinder Twinair petrol unit gives better performance, but it’s noisy at any speed and still feels a little underpowered when you escape the city limits. It’s a similar story with the 1.3-litre turbodiesel engine – decent pace, with the best pull from low revs of any engine in the range, but too much noise – although an even stronger argument against it is how much it costs to buy in the first place.
How much will it cost me?
The Ypsilon is not a cheap alternative to a mainstream supermini, and many models look pretty dear next to their rivals, not least because most of the engines are only available with the more expensive trims. On the other hand, thanks to their sub-100g/km CO2 emissions, there’s zero road tax in the first two years with the diesel and the two-cylinder engine, and they promise decent fuel economy – although our experience of the Twinair petrol engine is that it doesn’t come close to those on-paper promises in the real world. To make matters worse, the Ypsilon is predicted to lose value more quickly over its life than many rivals, making it a more expensive car to own long-term.
How reliable is it?
The Ypsilon is still a relatively new car in the UK, so it’s too soon for any reliability pattern to have been established. However, while figures from Warranty Direct show that Chrysler models usually suffer from below-average reliability, the Ypsilon is based on Fiat mechanicals, which have proven much stronger.
How safe is it?
The Chrysler Ypsilon performed poorly when crash-tested by Euro NCAP, earning only a two-star rating. Every model comes with twin front and curtain airbags, as well as anti-whiplash head restraints on the front seats and ISOFIX child seat mounts. However, stability control is standard only on models with semi-automatic transmission and not even an option on the S version, which also has no side airbags.
How much equipment do I get?
The basic S trim (which is only available with the 1.2-litre engine) is pretty sparsely equipped. It’s the only model without air-con and alloy wheels for example, and it has a much-reduced list of options. SE and S-Series models are much smarter to look at, as well as having the air-con and alloys that S lacks. They also have a smarter interior, with leather trim on the steering wheel and gear lever. At the top of the range, S-Series trim gives the car a unique look inside and out, and a Bose stereo. Trouble is, you have to spend a lot of extra money to upgrade to these higher trim levels.
The styling is certainly the number one reason to buy an Ypsilon. There’s no doubt it turns heads, and because it will be sold only in small numbers, it guarantees its buyers some exclusivity – which is not something you can say of many superminis. However, you’ll pay a price for style, and it’s that the car is weak in most other areas.