2012 Fiat Panda 0.9 Twinair review

* Fiat Panda Twinair tested * Costs from 10,750, on sale now * 67.3mpg, CO2 emissions of 99g/km...

16 August 2012
2012 Fiat Panda 0.9 Twinair review

The Fiat Panda is the practical model in the company's city car range, and with this 0.9-litre two-cylinder Twinair engine it also promises to be seriously cheap to run.

It returns an impressive-sounding 67.3mpg in government fuel economy tests, which is comfortably more than the entry-level 1.2 petrol. Meanwhile, the Twinair's CO2 emissions of just 99g/km are the lowest for a Panda with a manual gearbox lower even than the diesel's. This makes the car eligible for a free UK road tax disc and free entry into London's Congestion Charge zone.

2012 Fiat Panda Twinair: engine size and performance
Driving the Panda Twinair in an economical manner takes some getting used to. The first problem is training yourself to ignore the thrummy noise the little unit makes. It's loud, but little vibration makes it through to the cabin; this was a problem with previous versions of Fiat's two-cylinder engine.

To get the best fuel consumption, it is necessary to change up a gear with the engine making a noise that would normally indicate it is struggling. However, the Twinair is actually much happier at low revs than the sound indicates.

Where it does struggle is when you're pulling away from a standstill. The stop-start system lets the car stall too easily, so you need to press the accelerator harder than you'd ideally like; it's therefore tricky to move away smoothly.

The Twinair is the quickest model in the Panda range, but 0-62mph still takes a while to arrive, at 11.2 seconds. It is nippy around town, though.

2012 Fiat Panda Twinair: interior, boot space and safety
Inside, there is nothing to indicate that the Panda Twinair is an eco-model; it has the same funky cabin as the rest of the models in the Panda range. The chunky dashboard controls are all easy to use, while the materials feel solid rather than plush.

Many people will wish the driver's seat was set lower, but it does mean you get a good view out.

The fact that the Panda has five doors makes it more practical than some rivals. Unfortunately, legroom is a little limited in the back, and you have to pay extra for a third rear seatbelt and split-folding rear seats.

You don't get as much boot space as you do in the Seat Mii, Skoda Citigo and VW Up, but the boot is well shaped.

A lack of stability control as standard meant the Panda got only four stars out of five in Euro NCAP crash tests.

2012 Fiat Panda Twinair: price, fuel economy and running costs
In other Fiat models, the Twinair has performed poorly in our real-world True MPG economy tests, and the high-revving nature of the Panda suggests it will suffer from the same problem.

On the up side, the low CO2 emissions and the resultant low tax bills are a big bonus when deciding which Panda to go for. The Twinair is also cheaper to buy than the equivalent diesel (but more expensive than the 1.2 petrol) and will therefore be a more compelling purchase for many.

Read the full Fiat Panda review >>

What Car? says

Tom Webster