The engine is superb, with Fiat seeming to adopt the ‘why mend it if it isn’t broken’ theory, as this unit is actually a re-vamp of the same 750cc, 1.0 and 1.1 litre 8v engines that Fiat used in the old Uno’s and original Panda’s. The current Fiat 1.2 engine & gearbox are now widely used in the Fiat 500, the Chrysler Ypsilon and the new Ford Ka. This engine and gearbox are time proven and a well serviced Panda is unlikely to ever let you down. It has an 8v unit which has the Fiat FIRE engine (Fully Integrated Robotised Engine), which has 30% fewer moving parts and is probably the reason why it is so reliable. It’s quick too, much quicker than any of the 16v competition like the Clio’s, Corsa’s or Fiesta’s, even leaving many bigger cars surprised at the lights and I have never got below 40mpg urban, no matter how I drive, a fuel consumption figure that can’t be applied to any of the aforementioned and in summer, I have found 50mpg urban is achievable if the fuel computer is adhered to. The Panda’s only have one body shape, all of which are 5-door, so they are very versatile, but there are only 4 seats and the boot is quite small, but as a small, economical town car, it is as spacious as it needs to be. It drives like a go-cart in the dry and has impeccable road manners, but it needs careful acceleration in first gear and nursing around corners in the wet, due to the grossly inadequate 155/13 tyres that are standard on Active and Dynamic models, but you do get used to this.
Warren Home, Cheshire, February 1st 2014