Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
There’s only one engine for the Panda: a mild-hybrid petrol that also features in the closely related Fiat 500. And mild really does mean means mild: it gets little more than a faint whiff of electrical assistance.
You can’t plug this car in and it can’t travel on battery power alone (a Toyota Yaris will let you potter without firing up its petrol engine). There's less electrical assistance even than in a mild-hybrid Ford Fiesta.
The i10 also rides a lot more comfortably. It's not that the Panda thumps alarmingly over potholes – it takes most of the sting out of sharp edges pretty well – but it bounces and fidgets around over most surfaces. That makes it rather wearing to drive for any great distance.
While its light steering is ideal for parking, it’s also vague when you are looking for that sense of connection to help you guide the nose confidently through faster corners. Combine this with significant body lean, and the Panda isn't a car with driver appeal by the bucket load. If you enjoy zipping about in a car with rewarding handling, the surprisingly entertaining Picanto demands a test drive.
If off-road handling is high on your list, then you'll be disappointed to know that the Panda is no longer offered with four-wheel drive, despite the all-terrain looks of the Cross version. We’d suggest a four-wheel-drive version of the Dacia Duster if mud-plugging is in your plans.