How does the 3rd generation of the Fiat Panda 4×4 stack up in a competitive market? With a host of quirky extras, Fiat’s latest offering is bursting with enough personality to differentiate it from other 4x4s. From the Toyota Aygo to the SEAT Mii, the Panda aims to better them with practicality, space and low running costs.
Fiat’s longstanding legacy of designing small, sprightly cars dates back to pre-war Italy and the 500, or ‘Topolino’. More recently, the 2003 version of the original Panda won ‘European Car of the Year’ for 2004.
So does the all-wheel drive Panda, announced at the Paris Motor Show back in 2012 live up to the traditional models reputation and is it an economical drive?
City and off-road
Owners of the Fiat Panda 4×4 can enjoy the best of both worlds. Its agile nature – so familiar from the European Car of the Year version of the model – is easily able to conquer city streets. Its light steering makes navigation a breeze, while its soft suspension helps with bumps and potholes.
Its off-road capabilities are really what set it apart from the standard version of the car. Its all-wheel drive enables it to conquer height that the original version of the Panda would struggle with. All versions of the Panda 4×4 also come with snow tyres to take on the most extreme of weather conditions.
The distinctive boxy design of the Fiat Panda 4×4, is matched by the characteristic design of the interior. The high driving position makes it easy to see out of; whilst its high roofline provides plenty of headroom.
The 4×4 version drives on 15in aluminium wheels and is a noticeable 1.8in taller than the standard Panda. The downside of the extra height means more lean through on corners and increased wind noise on the motorway in comparison to the standard version of the car.
Fiat offers a choice of two engines to power their Panda 4×4:
1.3-litre 74bhp MultiJet: A four-cylinder diesel engine with better torque makes it more expensive and louder than the petrol option. It manages to get up to 74.3mpg and emits 103g/km of CO2.
1.6-litre 89bhp TwinAir: The two-cylinder petrol option with a 6 or 5 speed box is a popular choice, mainly because it’s cheaper, faster and quieter than its diesel counterpart. Its flexible valve timing system gets 68.9mpg and emits less than 100g/km of CO2.
ELD at the touch of a button is a feature the 4×4 boasts over the standard Panda. The system locks the front and rear axles to improve the car’s traction in the toughest of conditions. Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) alerts you when tyre pressure is running low and is another feature the 4×4 enjoys over the standard Panda.
The 3rd generation of Fiat Panda 4×4 is a solid value for money choice for a car owner who wants the perks of a nimble city car along with the handling capabilities of a 4×4. Its agile nature makes it a pleasure to drive and its unique look and handy features set it apart from similar 4x4s on the market.
The updated version of the Panda 4×4 handles off-road more comfortably than the 2nd generation of the vehicle and substantially better than the standard Fiat Panda. Whilst this is a huge benefit, it is only relevant if its off-road proficiency is going to be put to good use.
Engine capability is also of crucial importance in weighing up the value for money in the Fiat Panda 4×4. The TwinAir’s CO2 output means it incurs less tax and 18,000-mile service intervals should make it cheaper to run as well.
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Author: Joseph Lazare