Our cars: Fiat Panda - October
Week ending October 26
Driven this week: 113 miles
Fiat Panda review
Earlier this week, I decided to invest in a new iPhone 5, and I'm happy to report it links up perfectly with the Panda’s Blue&Me system.
I was worried it wouldn't, because other colleagues have had problems connecting their iPhone 5s with far more expensive cars, due to Apple’s new-style ‘Lightning’ connector.
The downside is, I still have to control the device using a display about the size of a postage stamp between the Panda's instrument dials, although the voice-control function is handy for taking care of simpler tasks.
By Will Nightingale
Week ending October 19
Driven this week: 45 miles
My first experience of our Panda was on a short trip to Heathrow Airport – as I headed off to drive its cousin, the Panda 4x4.
I loved the huge interior space, driving position and chunky dash controls, which are easy to find while concentrating on driving through town. I also found the engine great, too, with a punchy power delivery, however the engine never sounded too noisy from the cabin. It’s not a fast car, but feels adequately powered around town.
There is one thing that frustrated me, though. I’m quite tall, and from my driving position the whole top left-hand corner of the speedometer was hidden by the steering wheel. This car will be predominantly used in town and, when 30mph and 40mph readings aren’t visible, having to crane your neck to peer either under or over the wheel isn’t convenient or safe.
By Rory White
Week ending October 12
Driven this week: 86 miles
Another week, another trip to the supermarket. Our long-term Renault Twizy is my favourite tool for this job. However, with colleagues tagging along this time around, something (slightly) more practical was needed.
Cue our new Panda. The lunchtime trip highlighted how good a city car the baby Fiat is; four adults climbed inwith minimal fuss, it was effortlessly easy to drive (aside from an awkwardly placed clutch pedal) and its compact dimensions made it the perfect tool for a parallel park.
Squeezing into a space was easy, thanks to the feather-light steering, however it wasn't until the trip back to the office that I noticed the 'City' button, which makes it even lighter. I'll be trying that next time.
Week ending October 5
Driven this week: 241 miles
Our long-term Panda is fitted with optional Bluetooth (£265 for Blue&me plus a further £125 for steering wheel-mounted controls).
Bluetooth is pretty much a must-have these days, but unfortunately the system in the Panda isn't all that simple to operate. The menus are displayed on the instrument panel in front of the driver, but the screen is so small it takes an age to scroll through all the options and find the person you want to call.
Thankfully, the system's voice control function comes to the rescue. You press a button on the steering wheel, say 'call' followed by the name of the person in your address book, and nine times out of 10 it does what you ask.
Annoyingly, though, the position of the button close to the edge of the rim means I often catch it with the palm of my hand when going round corners.
By Will Nightingale