LUCA CIFERRI

Using Chrysler rwd for Lancia should not be an issue

Luca CiferriLuca Ciferri is senior reporter for Automotive News Europe
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Automotive historians will cry foul early next year when Lancia launches a new flagship based on the next-generation rear-wheel-drive Chrysler 300C.

Lancia is one of the true pioneers in applying front-wheel drive to mass production cars in Europe (the other is Citroen). Therefore, many expect diehard Lancia fans, know as Lancisti in Italy, to reject a rwd flagship.

But there is evidence that neither fwd nor rwd matters much to Lancia enthusiasts. Lancisti helped make the fwd Thema that debuted in 1984 a success but have turned their backs on the last two fwd flagships: the boring-looking Kappa (1994) and the overweight, underpowered Thesis (2001).

More proof that customers don't care about the difference between rwd and fwd came last week when BMW revealed that 80 percent of its 1-series owners believe the car is fwd.

The BMW brand doesn't even make an fwd car.

If the layout means that little to supposedly hyper-sensitive BMW buyers then Lancia has nothing to fear. The bottom line is that if the new Lancia flagship looks good and is properly priced, customers will like it – and buy it – regardless whether traction power comes from the front wheels or the back.

You can reach Luca Ciferri at lciferri@crain.com.

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