Chrysler Delta review:
1.6 M-Jet 120 SR
by David Finlay (28 November 2011)
Well, it turns out that the Chrysler Delta is one of those cars that becomes more appealing the more time you spend with it. I wasn't at all impressed after my brief drive at the UK media launch (see review), and there are still things I'm not prepared to forgive - the over-fussy styling and the lack of glass area at the back being the predominant ones.
Since then, though, I've spent a few days with the 1.6 M-Jet 120 SR, which has the second-from-top trim level and the less powerful of the two turbo diesel engines in the range, and heavens to betsy, I rather liked it. There, I said it.
What I liked most was the way it drove. You needn't pay too much attention to what Chrysler describes as the "Absolute Handling System" because that's just an overall name for various pieces of familiar safety equipment. And I don't feel I have to revise my original comment that the Delta's suspension set-up is not bad but not great either.
And yet, on a long journey the Delta was very relaxing. That diesel engine is impressively quiet, and it's so efficient at low speeds that I could spend almost a whole day with the revcounter needle pointing somewhere between 1300 and 2000rpm. That may have had something to do with the fact that I averaged just over 51mpg on this test, which is some way below the official 60.1mpg combined figure but nevertheless quite acceptable for one of the largest C-segment (approximately Ford Focus-sized) cars on the market.
None of the major controls is precise in operation, but they allow for very smooth gear shifts and changes in direction. It would take quite some effort to make the Delta feel jerky and uncomfortable.
There's plenty of space in the back (though the rising window line won't be welcomed by anyone who suffers from either claustrophobia or car sickness) no shortage of luggage room - 380 litres with the rear seats in place, 465 litres if they're slid forward and 1190 litres when you fold them down are all very good figures in this class.
The high load sill isn't helpful, though, and it's not the only piece of design silliness. Like most current Fiat products (for let us not forget that the Delta is actually a Lancia with a Chrysler badge attached for right-hand drive markets) you have to delve deep into the trip computer - and even then only when the car is stationary - simply to switch on the sidelights.
Also, the windscreen pillars are ridiculously thick, making it very difficult to see, for example, nearby traffic as you approach a roundabout. And, more trivially, the cupholders are so shallow that things easily fall out of them, which rather seems to defeat the purpose. Whatever you do, don't drive for any distance with an unlidded cup of coffee in there.
I enjoyed the Delta more than I expected to, but it's one of those cars which people will buy only if they feel that the pluses outweigh the minuses. For me, they don't (possibly because I consider the styling to be one of the minuses). For you, they may.