The design, by Ercole Spada of the I.DE.A Institute, produced an excellent drag coefficient of only 0.29. The core of the product was prestige, exclusivity, personality and comfort, achieved through a high level of equipment and use of materials (eg Alcantara) as well as details such as special paints, alloy wheels and an attention to soundproofing, ventilation and other issues. Inside the ability to obtain the perfect driving position was helped by the adjustable seats, steering wheel and electrically adjustable mirrors. Safety, both passive with a structure designed to minimize injury in an accident, and active, such as ABS and airbag, was also near the top of the Dedra's agenda.
It was based on the Fiat Tipo-floorpan, because the idea of Fiat Group at the end of the 80s was to achieve, from a single floorpan (for reasons of economies of scale), four different cars from the same base: good value for money for the Fiat Tipo (1988), elegance for Lancia Dedra 1989, convenience at a competitive price for the Fiat Tempra (1990) (with its large boot) and sportsmanship for the Alfa Romeo 155 (1992). Also were designed on the same floorpan the Lancia Delta and the Fiat Coupe.
In 1991 was launched the Dedra Integrale. It used the same engine and transmission that the Delta Integrale 8v. The Delta Integrale 8v engine is one of the world's most competition proven power units, a 2-litre 4-cylinder fuel injected twin cam engine, fitted with contra-rotating balancing shafts, and a Garrett T3 turbocharger and associated inter-cooler to aid volumetric efficiency that boost power output to 171 PS (127 kW) in catalyzed version. The Dedra Integrale also uses the same permanent 4-wheel drive of the Delta Integrale, and includes the new Visco Drive 2000 traction control system. Also includes the electronically controlled suspension available as option in the 2.0 and upper versions.
When the Dedra was launched, it was a good time for Lancia: The Thema was facelifted a year ago, and despite being on the market for five years was selling well, the Delta (1979), thanks its continued success in competition was living a second youth, and the Y10 had a slight restyling and good sales. However, the Dedra was not a strong success outside Italy. A major facelift in 1993 did little to boost the car's sales success and the whole Lancia range including the Dedra was withdrawn from right-hand drive markets a year later. The car, after 1993 also sold as a station wagon, remained popular on the Italian market until it was replaced by the all-new Lybra at the end of the 90s.