Used Fiat Panda ('04-'12) buying guide
Unlike the original Fiat Panda – which was only available in three-door form – the second-generation version launched in 2004 came as a five-door city car that could comfortably seat four adults.
The second-generation Panda impressed with responsive steering that's great for parking manoeuvres and stable at motorway speeds. It also rides very well and is untroubled by most road surfaces.
Refinement is another of the Panda's strengths. There's very little wind- or road noise, which is impressive for a city car – especially one that's as tall and boxy as the Panda.
Inside, the Panda has plenty of room for four six-footers. The dashboard is clear and well designed, while all the switchgear is within easy reach.
The 206-litre boot is small, but it can be expanded to 861 litres by folding the rear seats.
Three engines were offered: 1.1- or 1.2-litre petrols, and a 1.3 diesel. The 1.1-litre petrol produces 54bhp, while the 1.2 offers 60bhp or 69bhp. Diesel cars have 70bhp or 75bhp depending on when they were built. There was also a 100bhp diesel until 2010.
We recommend the 1.2-litre petrol, because it is nippy around town and the extra power that it has over the 1.1 is helpful on the motorway. The 1.1 petrol does average economy of 49.6mpg, while the 1.2 returns 50.4mpg.
We also like the 1.3-litre diesel engine, because it's powerful and economical – with average economy of 65.7mpg – although it is more expensive to buy than the petrols.
Entry-level Active trim comes with electric front windows and not much else.
Dynamic adds remote central locking, a height-adjustable steering wheel and a CD player. Dynamic AirCon – our favourite – adds air-conditioning.
Top-of-the-range Eleganza models have climate control, alloys, roof bars and split-folding rear seats.
If you're looking for a sportier Panda, there's the Panda 100hp, which has a 1.4-litre petrol engine and gets from 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds. It comes with much of the same equipment as Eleganza models, but adds Bluetooth, 15-inch alloys and a sporty bodykit.
Fiat also produced a Panda 4x4 that got chunkier styling and had genuine off-road capability.
A 2004 Fiat Panda 1.1 Active is available for less than £1300, and is the cheapest way into owning a second-generation model. Prices for the Panda 100hp start at around £3250 and £3800 for the Panda 4x4.
Our pick is the 1.2 Dynamic AirCon, which is available for around £2500.
There are a few things to look out for when buying a second-generation Fiat Panda. Diesel models that were built between 2005 and 2006 could leak fuel from the fuel delivery pipe. These models have been recalled and the faulty parts replaced.
The ABS control units on Pandas built between 2003 and 2007 can short-circuit and cause a fire. Fiat recalled affected models. Check that the car you're considering has had this work done.
Otherwise, the main complaint is that the tailgate locking mechanism becomes jammed.
By Matthew Burrow
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