Fiat’s 4×4 version of the Panda is a neat little box of tricks, as our motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay, reports.
I’m a tall guy, so when I saw the diminutive Fiat Panda 4×4 delivered for test, I wasn’t jumping for joy. It has cute enough looks, but mine was in red and resembled Postman Pat’s delivery van. Luckily, I’m not as shallow as a teaspoon, so on closer inspection I did feel more positive about this week’s review car.
The Panda 4×4’s interior is where the Fiat stands out – I’ll come to the ‘4×4’ bit in a moment. The cabin is more spacious than you’d imagine. The Italian hatchback’s seats will hold four occupants comfortably and the boot is usefully square, making it a cinch to load unwieldly items. You get 225 litres of space, and this distends to 870 when the rear seats are folded. At the other end of the car, the dashboard is fashionably laid-out. Every switch, as well as the gear-lever and steering wheel, have a rounded-off square shape, which adds to the chic interior look. Yes, there are some cut-price plastics in there, but they should wear well.
The Fiat Panda 4×4 is kitted out very nicely. Basic equipment includes a CD/MP3 stereo, Bluetooth phone connectivity, heated electric mirrors, fog lights and central locking. There’s also a split rear seat option available, which boosts practicality. This is only £100 or so, therefore, if you’re buying new, it’s worth adding into the deal.
On the move, the Panda 4×4’s gearbox is slick and the light steering makes motoring, in or out of heavy traffic, a breeze. Furthermore, the driving position is high, which means you get a great view all round. And here’s the main difference between this four-wheel-drive version of the Fiat and the normal front-wheel-drive variant: the car is excellent for greasy road conditions. This is because the Panda’s electronic stability program dispenses power to one or the other of the rear wheels. What’s more, the winter tyres fitted to the car, are designed for snow and mud, meaning they give tons of traction. There is a bit of body roll if you hit bends too enthusiastically, but it’s never worrying, due to the confidence-inspiring 4×4 system. Moreover, the added advantage of the substantial tyres is extra comfort when motoring over blemished bitumen.
The Fiat Panda 4×4 1.3-litre Multijet diesel is the model I drove. The gearbox only has five gears, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s an easy shifting transmission. Clout is surprisingly good, too, with zero to 62mph arriving in 12.5 seconds and the top speed is 104mph. Granted, those figures might look lame, but the car doesn’t feel sluggish at all. More crucially, though, the Panda with this engine and the 4×4 set-up, will do over 60mpg while emitting 119g/km CO2. It’s a cracking little diesel unit and perfect for longer hauls.
If you’re after an efficient, comfy, small hatchback with lots of grip, space for four, and an easy-loading boot, then you should check out the Panda 4×4. It’s one multitalented supermini that maybe looks better in any other colour than red. Sorry, if you’re a Postman Pat fan. View the range of Fiat Pandas we have at Perrys today, and feel free to come in and test drive one.
Pros ‘n’ Cons
- Grip √
- Comfort √
- Handling √
- Colour-sensitive X
Fast Facts (Diesel 1.3 MultiJet 95 Start&Stop – as tested)
- Max speed: 104 mph
- 0-62 mph: 12.5 secs
- Combined mpg: 64.2
- Engine layout: 1248cc four-cylinder diesel turbo
- Max. power (PS): 95
- CO2: 117 g/km
- Price: £16,505