1990 Lancia Thema 16v Turbo SE 2.0 16v turbo


A fine balance of performance and comfort. Nice to have something different!


Head gasket went at 125,000 miles.

Water radiator disintegrated at 140,000 miles.

Minor electrical problems.

General Comments:

My second Thema Turbo and still going strong after 10 years of ownership. For a big car its great to drive and much faster than anyone expects.

Interior is well equipped and comfortable even compared to much more modern cars.

Expensive on insurance (group 17) and heavy on fuel depending on how you drive it. Also eats front tyres, brake pad and discs if used hard... but worth every penny.

Very underrated car and excellent value/performance for your money, but not worth much to sell unfortunately!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th March, 2007

29th Jul 2010, 10:52

I agree! What a car!! I had one for years, and really miss the comfort, power and size. Fuel consumption definitely could be high, especially when motoring hard.

I left Maranello (yes, that one) at 1pm one Monday in my 2.0 SE 20 years ago. Heading to Milan and then up the length of Switzerland and finally, across the top of France, we stopped to pick up some wine at a supermarket and for a meal on a motorway as well as at toll booths and for comfort stops along the way.

We arrived in Calais at 2am - thirteen hours and 1300 km later, safe, sound and much, much poorer at 14 MPG!! Boy, what a drive, 140+ MPH, the petrol gauge dropping like a stone, scenery flashing by, no speed cameras and the Italian Police treating you like Royalty (these were after all, the car of choice of Mafia heads).

Would I be irresponsible enough to do the same now? Of course I would, just give me the Thema to do it in!

Come back to the UK Lancia, all is forgiven!!!

1991 Lancia Thema SE 2.0 16v


A future classic


Rear calipers needed replacement at 155,000 miles (not bad).

Cam belt snapped due to incompetent mechanics damaging a pulley (not the car's fault).

Intermittent setting on wipers stopped at 103K, but a replacement motor only cost £10 from Thema Consortium (www.lancia-tdc.co.uk).

Nothing else other than wear and tear on suspension bushes, but after 166K miles, you would expect that!!!

General Comments:

I've done 100,000 miles in my car, and it still looks as if it could be less than 3 years old. I love this car and have no desire to sell it. The car is great to drive at 95mph on motorways, and can still be hustled along country roads at similar speeds. The steering is perfectly weighted for my tastes, but drivers of Japanese executive cars may prefer something more assisted.

The interior style is one of the car's strongest points, with the Grey Alcantara and Dark Rosewood creating a really luxurious cabin that's always a pleasure to sit in. Be sure to put a cover on the driver's seat though, as the Alcantara can wear out otherwise.

Throttle response is crisp, steering precise, ride smooth, and the exhaust note makes you roll down the windows every time you are driving down a lane with brick walls. This car has character and charm, which is so often lacking in other cars these days.

People have for too long ignored Lancias because of "some bloke down the pub" who told them that they're unreliable and rusty. My advice is try to drive one, or speak to someone who has actually owned one. And as for the criticisms of unreliability, can I suggest you look at the Carsurvey comments for the VW Polo!!!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th January, 2006

8th Jan 2006, 04:45

Absolutely true, especially the remarks about their reputation. All of this talk about Lancias and rust is basically down to a problem with the Betas in the 70's. A problem which, incidentally, Lancia owned up to and cured while Ford and Rover just kept churning out cars which rotted away, but never admitted to it.

16th Oct 2006, 16:42

Talking about great automotive cover ups, have you ever wondered how Mercedes managed to getaway with making such scandalously rusty cars in the 1990's. I've seen T reg Mercs S-Classes with rust on panels that you could stick a finger through!