The Thema was available as a sedan and as a station wagon designed by Pininfarina, and was considered one of the most spacious and comfortable European cars of its time. In addition to the sedans, 21,074 Thema station wagons were built by Pininfarina between 1986-1994 in their Borgo San Paolo plant.
The Thema re-established Lancia as a high-quality luxury manufacturer in response to the problems the marque had experienced with the Lancia Beta, which was heavily mauled by the British tabloid Daily Mirror and Esther Rantzen, presenter of the BBC TV show That's Life!, for being excessively and dangerously rust-prone; this defamation and defacing campaign, which was based on exaggeration and distortion of facts, pretty much ruined the company's commercial standing and reputation. The Thema reversed this trend with a galvanized steel chassis and rust protection that equaled or bettered that of its competitors. Build quality was higher than the Fiat Croma's and on par with the Saab 9000's. The sales organisation, however, was poor in many markets and secondhand values for the car suffered.