Driving

Fiat Panda review

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Fiat Panda
Review continues below...
18 Dec 2015 11:46 | Last updated: 21 Aug 2018 12:56

In this review

Driving

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

There’s a choice of three engines: a 68bhp 1.2-litre 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 than the petrol, so is better at keeping up with traffic on faster roads. Twinair versions have a fair bit of mid-range muscle, but are gutless at very low revs and breathless at high ones.

The Panda is built for the city, and here most versions absorb bigger bumps and ruts well enough; this is especially true of the high-riding four-wheel-drive models. It never feels completely settled at higher speeds, however, where its body tends to bob up and down. That said, it doesn’t lean unduly in corners.

Light steering is great for parking, but it’s also vague, which makes it difficult to judge front-end grip at speed. The 4x4 versions are as capable off-road as many bigger SUVs, so they make a great choice if you do need to venture off the beaten path.

Refinement isn’t great, however. The diesel engine becomes noisy when worked hard, and the 1.2-litre petrol also makes itself heard when revved, although the noise it makes isn’t unpleasant. By contrast, the Twinair engine is noisy at most speeds. It’s not very smooth, either, and sends plenty of vibrations into the cabin. Wind noise becomes increasingly insistent as speeds rise, which means the Panda isn’t as hushed as a Hyundai i10 or Volkswagen Up.

Fiat Panda
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There are 8 trims available for the Panda hatchback. Click to see details.See all versions
Waze
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City Cross
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£12,104
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4x4
Four-wheel-drive versions are based on the Lounge model. Upgrades include a more rugged-looking exterior, a skid plate, an electronic locking differential, Bluetooth and USB connectivity and wheel-...View trim
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Cross 4x4
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£14,992
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Cross 4x4
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£16,825
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Pop
You don’t get much kit in the entry-level Pop trim. It comes with steel wheels, a trip computer, electric front windows, a basic stereo, central locking and a height-adjustable driver’s seat and st...View trim
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Easy
This is the trim level we’d aim for. It adds air-con, which is a major plus, as well as remote central locking, an upgraded stereo and roof rails. These all make the Panda much easier to live with...View trim
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Lounge
It’s a bit of a price hike for a Lounge version, and you don’t really get much of additional note, outside of electric heated door mirrors. It constitutes mostly cosmetic changes, including alloy w...View trim
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£9,850
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