2013 Fiat Panda 4x4 and Trekking review

* Fiat Panda 4x4 and Trekking driven in UK * Front-wheel-drive Trekking gets advanced traction control * Trekking from 12,450; 4x4 from 13,950...

2013 Fiat Panda 4x4 and Trekking review

The Fiat Panda 4x4 and Panda Trekking are the latest additions to Fiat's city car range. Both models come with a raised ride height (by 47mm), bespoke alloys and chunkier bumpers.

The 4x4 has permanent four-wheel drive, whereas the Trekking uses front-wheel drive, but gets an advanced traction control system.

Both models get the same two engine options: an 89bhp 0.9-litre Twinair petrol that's linked to a six-speed manual gearbox, and a 74bhp 1.3-litre diesel that comes with a five-speed manual 'box.

What are the 2013 Fiat Panda 4x4 and Trekking like to drive?
In normal driving conditions, both cars ride and handle in a similar fashion.

Thanks to their revised suspension and extra wheel travel, the ride is better than in other Panda models, remaining comfortable over rough and broken road surfaces. Even large bumps don't cause too much discomfort.??

The downside is more body sway through bends, although neither car ever pitches uncontrollably.

The steering isn't particularly precise, but it is light, so both Pandas feel at home in the city. Add the high driving position and excellent all-round vision, and both cars are extremely easy to manoeuvre.??

At higher speeds, wind and road noise becomes more intrusive than in many rival city cars, but the optional winter tyres on the cars we drove didn't make things noticeably worse.??

Choose the diesel engine and there's a healthy 140lb ft of torque on offer, but the engine sounds agricultural at all times and drones on the motorway.

The Twinair engine's 107lb ft might seem less fitting, but it's surprisingly capable. It's a little slow off the mark, but there's enough mid-range muscle to keep pace with traffic, and it's certainly the quieter of the two engines at cruising speeds.

Venture off road, though, and these cars really start to shine. The Trekking's clever traction control system which is activated via a button on the dashboard assesses which front wheel has the most grip and distributes the engine's power accordingly. It's not suited to more extreme conditions, but the Trekking reacts quickly on loose and slippery surfaces, allowing controlled turns and hill starts. ??

We've tested the 4x4 on the Jeep-designed off-road course at Fiat's Balocco test track in Italy, where it handled camber changes, 57% gradients and harsh suspension tests.

The approach and departure angles are better than those of any Mini Countryman or Nissan Qashqai, and Fiat has positioned the Panda's air intake higher for improved wading ability. Both cars have front and rear undercarriage guards, and a ground clearance of 200mm.

The 4x4 model gets an electronic locking differential and a torque-on-demand system to transfer power between axles.

The Panda's low kerbweight aids its ability, especially in the Twinair model, which has a low-range first gear designed specifically with off-road use in mind.

The diesel engine has extra torque at its disposal, but isn't any more capable off-road, so we'd stick with the cheaper Twinair model.

What are the 2013 Fiat Panda 4x4 and Trekking like inside?
Aside from some new interior colours and extra switches, both models look much the same as other Pandas from behind the wheel. You get the same chunky, user-friendly dashboard controls, and materials that feel solid rather than plush. However, both the 4x4 and Trekking do benefit from a raised centre console with additional storage.

Some people will wish the driver's seat could be lowered, but there's a decent range of adjustment for the steering wheel.?

The Panda's five-door body makes it more practical than some rival city cars, and there's excellent headroom in both the front and rear. It's just a pity that rear legroom is tight.

Also, the boot isn't as big as in a Seat Mii, Skoda Citigo or VW Up, but it's well shaped and none of the aforementioned rivals offer four-wheel drive.

The 4x4 and Trekking sit at the top of the Panda range, so they come with the clever folding seats that are reserved for higher-spec models.
Climate control, a CD player, 15-inch alloys and electrically adjustable door mirrors are standard, while sliding rear seats, Bluetooth, sat-nav and an automatic city braking system are on the options list.

Should I buy one?
The Panda Trekking starts from 12,450 (for the 0.9 Twinair model), while the 4x4 costs from 13,950 with the same engine. That's a lot of cash to be spending on a city car, and the diesels cost even more.

These are the only city cars with genuine off-road ability, however, and they're vastly superior to small SUVs such as the Suzuki Jimny in many areas. The cheapest four-wheel-drive Dacia Duster costs 10,995, but comes with far less standard equipment.

It's clear these models have some appeal, if only to a limited number of buyers.

Read the full Fiat Panda review >>

What Car? says...

Dacia Duster
Suzuki Jimny

Fiat Panda Trekking specification
Engine size 0.9 T
Price from 12,450
Power 84bhp
Torque 107 lb ft
0-60mph tbc
Top speed 106mph
Fuel economy 61.4mpg
CO2 emissions 105g/km

Engine size 1.3 TD
Price from 13,450
Power 74bhp
Torque 140 lb ft
0-60mph tbc
Top speed 100mph
Fuel economy 67.3mpg
CO2 emissions 109g/km

Fiat Panda 4x4 specification
Engine size 0.9 T
Price from 13,950
Power 84bhp
Torque 107 lb ft
0-60mph tbc
Top speed 103mph
Fuel economy 57.6mpg
CO2 emissions 114g/km

Engine size 1.3 TD
Price from 14,950
Power 74bhp
Torque 140 lb ft
0-60mph tbc
Top speed 99mph
Fuel economy 60.1mpg
CO2 emissions 125g/km

By Dan Alcock and Rory White