Our cars: Fiat Panda - August

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Fiat Panda 1.2 Pop

Week ending August 31
Mileage 2180
Driven this week 220


Going for the cheapest trim always means giving up some creature comforts. I was well aware, for example, that by choosing a Panda in entry-level Pop trim I'd have to do without air-conditioning, alloys and remote locking.

However, I've noticed a couple of other omissions that aren't so easy to spot in the brochure. Pop models don't get side mouldings to protect the doors, so my car is much more likely to get a dented in a supermarket car park. There's no locking petrol cap, either, nor is there a glovebox to keep valuables out of sight.

Even rear head restraints (which my car does have) are a £70 option. I wouldn't dream of putting anyone in the back without them.

The moral of the story? Always make sure you know exactly what you're missing out on when trying to save cash. It might end up costing you in the long run.

Will.Nightingale@whatcar.com

Week ending August 24
Mileage 1960
Driven this week 246


This is our new long-term Fiat Panda. It's been with us for only three days, but we've already racked up more than 250 miles in it.

First impressions are that we've definitely picked the right engine. The 68bhp 1.2 isn't quite as quick as the 0.9 Twinair model, but it's much smoother and makes the Panda a better-value proposition.

Also, although the Panda's sit-up-and-beg driving position isn't to everyone's tastes, it's one of the few cars that doesn't give me backache on long journeys.

The only complaint so far is the absence of air-conditioning. Then again, the warm and muggy weather we've been having this week isn't likely to last long.

Will.Nightingale@whatcar.com

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