Our cars: Fiat Panda - January
Week ending January 25
Driven this week: 151 miles
Fiat Panda review
It's got no winter tyres and it's not the new 4x4 model, but I can testify that our Fiat Panda 1.2 is a great tool for negotiating the snow.
Admittedly it wasn't that deep in my bit of south-west London, but it was deep enough to floor quite a few of my neighbours' cars. The Panda, however, coped with the slush, ice and generally horrid, slippery conditions extremely sure-footedly.
Mind you, our Panda is a city favourite of mine even when there isn't a white-out. I love how easy and relaxing it is to drive around town: its excellent visibility, a supple ride that copes with speed bumps even better than our VW Up, and having such compact dimensions and a set of rear doors, makes it a terrific urban car.
By Chas Hallett
Week ending January 18
Driven this week: 104 miles
We know the Panda is a great city car, but this week I had an opportunity to see how good it is on faster roads, and how well it copes on long-distance trips.
I took it to the UK launch of the new Panda 4x4 in Warwickshire, providing the opportunity for a back-to-back comparison, and the result was surprising.
The Panda 4x4 is available with a 0.9-litre Twinair petrol engine and a 1.3-litre Multijet diesel, both of which are noisy under heavy acceleration. The Twinair quietens down at a cruising speed, whereas the diesel continues to drone; neither is as smooth or quiet as the 1.2-litre petrol engine in our Panda.
Although this engine uses older technology than the Twinair and has worse average economy and CO2 emissions, on my trip the fuel economy never dipped below 40mpg during more than 280 miles of enthusiastic driving.
Pop trim certainly has its limitations - manual door mirrors and the absence of remote central locking, for example - but our base-spec model doesn't feel sparse compared with the range-topping 4x4 models.
Our car is clearly no match for the Panda 4x4 off-road, but the differences are very subtle on it. With 4x4 prices starting from £13,950, the Pop appears to be exceptional value at £8900.
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