Fiat Panda Hatchback full 9 point review
You have the choice of three engines: a 68bhp 1.2 petrol, a 0.9 Twinair with 84bhp and a 74bhp 1.3-litre diesel. The 1.2 petrol is no ball of fire, but it’s fine around town. If you regularly head beyond the city limits then you should consider the diesel; it feels stronger and more flexible, so is better at keeping up with traffic on faster roads.
Ride & Handling
The Panda is built for the city, and here most versions absorb bigger bumps and ruts well enough; this is particularly true of the high-riding 4x4 model. However, at faster speeds the body tends to bob up and down, and the Fiat never feels completely settled. It's better in corners, where the Panda doesn’t lean over unduly. The light steering is great for parking, but it’s also vague, which makes it difficult to judge front-end grip at higher speeds.
The diesel engine becomes rather noisy when worked hard, and the 1.2 petrol also makes itself heard when revved. However, the noise it makes isn’t at all unpleasant. By contrast, the Twinair engine is noisy at most speeds. It’s not very smooth, either, and send plenty of vibrations through into the cabin. Wind noise become increasingly insistent as speeds rise, which means the Panda isn’t as hushed as a VW Up.
Buying & Owning
Prices aren’t particularly competitive when compared with those of the Panda’s most obvious rivals, although you’ll almost certainly be able to haggle a big chunk off the official figure. Fuel economy and CO2 emissions aren’t great by city car standards, either, although low insurance groupings and respectable resale values mean the Panda should still be cheap to run.
Quality & Reliability
Most of the plastics and fabrics used in the interior are of reasonable quality and appear well put together. The body’s shutlines are also fairly tight, while the doors and switchgear have a solid feel. This latest Panda was too new to appear in our most recent JD Power survey, but the previous model received above average marks for mechanical reliability.
Safety & Security
All models come with twin front and head airbags as standard, but you have to pay extra for side airbags. Disappointingly, stability control is a cost option on all but the 4x4 and Trekking models, too, and you even need to pay extra to get rear head restraints on Pop-trimmed cars. It's even more disappointing that the Panda scored failed to achieve a five Euro NCAP safety rating. Child safety is particularly poor by the standards of the class.
Behind The Wheel
The Panda’s funky, airy cabin features a large centre console that keeps most controls – including the gearlever – within easy reach. The raised driving position isn’t to all tastes, but it does ensure a good view out. A height-adjustable steering wheel is standard, but driver’s seat-height adjustment is only available as an option on most versions.
Space & Practicality
The Panda’s tall body ensures plenty of headroom all round and there’s reasonable legroom in the front. However, legroom is a little tight in the back, despite the upright seating position, and you’ll need to spend extra if you want five seats instead of four. The Panda’s boot is small yet well shaped, but you’ll also need to venture to the options list if you want some sort of split-folding rear seat.
Entry-level Pop models come with a CD player and electric front windows, but we think it’s worth stretching to an Easy model, which has air-con, a better stereo, remote locking and roof rails. Lounge models add body-coloured mirrors and side mouldings, and alloy wheels, but are pricey. The 4x4 and Trekking versions come with plenty of kit, but these are the most expensive models.