When it announced its five-year plan for the Chrysler Group in 2009, Fiat declared that Lancia and the newly acquired American brand would, in effect, share models.

This modus operandi allows Fiat to roll out one range of models across the EU, via either Chrysler or Lancia showrooms, depending on which distribution network promises the greater commercial success. That’s how it has come to pass that the Delta hatchback can be a Chrysler in the UK and Ireland but a Lancia everywhere else.

The Delta stands out from the crowd

For anyone even remotely familiar with the styling of Chryslers of recent years, the Delta is going to come as something of a shock. The car’s two-tone paintwork, ornate detailing and sharply creased surfaces make it entirely unlike anything else in a rather by-the-numbers class.

The Chrysler redraft is limited to a badge swap and a slightly altered grille. Elsewhere, vertical LED rear lamps show the car’s Lancia heritage because they are a brand design hallmark of the brand, having first been seen on the Thema

The overall impression is of a car that’s distinctive, handsome and quite contemporary, but also decidedly European-looking – and that may be a sticking point for a portion of Chrysler’s returning customer base.

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It’s among the biggest C-segment cars you can buy, with an overall length of 4520mm – almost 300mm longer than a VW Golf.

If the Delta’s appearance is somewhat controversial, its underpinnings could hardly be more orthodox. It uses the same platform that features under the current Fiat Bravo, with one notable difference: the Delta’s wheelbase is 100mm longer than its cousin’s. In fact, at 2700mm, the wheelbase is identical to that of the Fiat Croma, a different crossover hatchback that enjoyed a short stint on sale in the UK six years ago.

The Delta has the same relationship with the Bravo, Fiat’s mainstream model, as the Audi A3 does with the VW Golf. In short, it shares major dimensions and most of its mechanical parts, but has completely different body styling and equipment levels, and is meant to be more upmarket.

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