Fiat Panda - Used

Car Review

Fiat Panda Trekking, front, static
Fiat Panda Trekking, side
Fiat Panda Trekking, rear
Fiat Panda Trekking, interior
Fiat Panda Trekking, rear seats
Fiat Panda Trekking, boot

THERE is nothing any other auto manufacturer can each Fiat about building small economical cars that have style and flair.

This has always been the company's forte and the funky and distinctive Panda is right up there with the best.

But in fact, it's better than many of the others in the small car market because it has a bigger interior with more leg and knee room front and back.

The latest model was introduced in 2012, and it has loads of personality. It's also very easy to drive and must be just about the easiest car to park of any on the market.

But in the safety stakes, it has sadly lagged behind by today's higher standards and received a very low score in its latest 2018 assessment.

There are basically three trim levels - of which more later - plus a number of special editions and the four wheel drive (4WD) 4x4, which comes in a couple of variations.

Engines are a choice between three petrol and one diesel and I'll start with the lowliest 1.2. This is a very old design, and like the others, is also used in the 500. It produces 68bhp and is capable of 49 miles per gallon (mpg) but the zero to 60 miles an hour sprint is more of a yawn at 14.3 seconds.

Then comes the latest a 1.0-litre unit with mild hybrid electric assistance and lower emissions. Its capable of 54 miles per gallon and gets to 60 in 13.5 seconds.

Finally on the petrol front comes the 900cc TwinAir two cylinder turbo. This has a particularly charming sound and with 85bhp on tap, is the performance leader of the range.

It covers the sprint in a very creditable 10.8 seconds and is capable of a diesel-busting 67mpg, with emissions of just 99 grammes per kilometre making it useable in low emission zones.

The Panda diesel is a quiet and refined 1.3 with 95bhp. Economy should be a very best of 72mpg and the sprint takes about 12.4 seconds.

As I said above, all are beautifully easy to drive, and to thread through crowded streets, but they also have a supple ride at slow speeds, so that they take the potholes and speed bumps of town life delightfully in their stride. Roadholding and handling are also very good.

Tyre, wind and road noise are impressively suppressed too, which is unusual in any smaller car.

The Panda is decently practical, with good interior space as I've already said, excellent headroom and a one piece folding rear seat. The boot is fairly small but it will handle a week's shopping for most people..

Equipment is decent to generous across the range and the three main trim levels are Pop, Easy and Lounge. All three are available with 1.0 and 1.2-litre petrol and diesel engines.

But only the upper Easy and Lounge models are offered with the TwinAir, and some of the special editions are only offered with one engine choice.

Equipment in all includes extra power city steering assistance, central locking, electric front windows, and CD stereo with MP3.

Easy adds air con, remote locking, traction control and roof rails, while Lounge also gets front fog lights, heated mirrors, alloys, side mouldings, extra steering wheel adjustment and a height adjustable driver's seat.

There were also 4x4 and other more heavy duty variants such as Trekking and Cross models which are exceptionally capable in poor driving conditions and over rough terrain.

Pay about £4,000 for a '16 16-reg 1.2 Easy, or £6,850 for an '18 18-reg TwinAir Lounge.

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