Our cars: Fiat Panda - May

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Fiat Panda
Fiat Panda
Fiat Panda 1.2 Pop

Week ending May 31
Mileage 8023
Driven this week 55 miles


Fiat Panda review

I wasn't sure about the Panda's odd-shaped handbrake lever at first, but I'm starting to rather like it.

The round shape means you grip it with your whole fist rather than just your fingers, and because the release button is mounted on the side (rather than the end), operating it actually feels more natural.

By Will Nightingale

Week ending May 24
Mileage 8012
Driven this week 38 miles

The cost of any warranty work is supposed to be covered by the manufacturer, and you’d imagine this would extend to providing a courtesy car while the problems are being sorted.

Well, that might not be the case if you own a Fiat. This week, I took my long-term Panda to Wilsons of Epsom, and had to pay £20 for a 'courtesy' car while the faults were being fixed. To make matters worse, I wasn’t told about the charge until I arrived, so had little choice but to pay it.

According to the service advisor, Wilsons has to pass on this cost to customers, because Fiat itself refuses to pay for courtesy cars – even for warranty work. However, according to Fiat this isn’t the case at all; it says the dealer made the charge to cover insurance costs.

Either way, I reckon it’s pretty cheeky, because the only reason I was in the dealer in the first place was because of a manufacturing defect with the car.

Still, the good news is the Panda is now fixed. That means the squeal from the alternator belt has completely disappeared, and the door handle no longer pops off when I open the driver’s door.

By Will Nightingale

Week ending May 10
Mileage 7825
Driven this week 62 miles


We haven't had the Panda back to the dealers for its fixes just yet, but I took it for my usual commute between office and home, squealing alternator belt, broken door handle and all. I like the Panda's unpretentious cheerfulness, but unfortunately it's also one of those cars that you get tired of pretty quickly.

My daily journey covers mostly motorway and a bit of snarled-up urban stuff, and it's great at the latter but tiring on main artery routes; a bit buzzy and hard work to keep up with faster traffic. I know, it's a city car, so what do I expect? The VW Up and its Seat and Skoda relations prove that you can have 'city cars' that aren't such a strain over longer miles and yet don't sacrifice the urban convenience aspect. The Panda's abilities feel a bit limited by comparison.

Vicky.Parrott@whatcar.com

Week ending May 3
Mileage 7763
Driven this week 12 miles


It’s been a week since the Panda went in for diagnosis, and as yet the problems (a slipping alternator belt and a faulty door handle) still haven’t been fixed.

The reason? Some of the required parts were on back order, so took a few days longer than expected to arrive.

The good news is that, as of yesterday, the parts are waiting at the dealer (Wilsons of Epsom). I’m hoping the Panda will be as good as new by this time next week.

By Will Nightingale
will.nightingale@haymarket.com

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