What's the used Fiat Panda hatchback like?
Viewed through the wide-angle lens of a historian, you might be tempted to say that no one makes small cars like Fiat. The Italian firm has been responsible for some of the most iconic urban runabouts over the past 60 years or so.
All of these diminutive tots displayed great flair on the surface and intelligent engineering underneath – enough to make them appeal to whole generations in their home country as the go-to cars of the people. The original Panda, one of those highly successful small cars, was a practical masterpiece. The second won the coveted European Car of the Year Award. This third-gen model is more efficient, more comfortable and more advanced in technology.
As for the trim levels, there are three key ones to choose from - Pop, Easy and Lounge. The entry-level model comes with electric front windows, a height-adjustable steering and hill hold assist, while upgrading to the Easy model adds remote central locking, air conditioning and roof rails. The range-topping Lounge trim gives the Panda 15in alloy wheels, front fog lights, a six-speaker sound system and Fiat's Uconnect infotainment system complete with USB and Bluetooth connectivity.
For those opting for the more rugged Panda 4x4 or the tougher Panda Cross, fear not, these both come with their own trim specification, with the former including 15in alloys, electrically adjustable and heated wing mirrors, and a height-adjustable driver's seat. The latter includes swish silver roof bars, climate control, LED day-running-lights, all-wheel drive and three driving modes, and mud and snow tyres.
On the road, 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.
Alas, refinement isn't great, either. The Panda's a little noisy by modern standards, and the ride's unsettled. It steers well, mark you, and its handling is safe and predictable if a little uninspiring.
Most of the fabrics and materials in the interior are of reasonable quality, and the driving position is straight and upright. There's plenty of head room front and back, although rear leg room is more limited for taller passengers. The boot is a useful size, and square in shape, so easy to load stuff into and get things out of.