2013 Fiat Panda 4x4 review

  • Fiat Panda 4x4 driven in UK
  • 0.9-litre petrol and 1.3-litre diesel engines
  • On sale now, priced from 13,950
Words BySteve Huntingford

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The Fiat Panda 4x4 is the latest addition to Fiat's city car range.

As the name suggests, it comes with permanent four-wheel drive, but Fiat has also raised the Panda's ride height by 47mm and fitted bespoke alloys and chunkier bumpers.

There are just two engine options: an 89bhp two-cylinder 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's the 2013 Fiat Panda 4x4 like to drive?
Thanks to revised suspension and extra wheel travel, the ride is better than it is in other Panda models, remaining comfortable over rough and broken road surfaces.

The downside is more body lean through bends, although the car never pitches and sways uncontrollably.

The steering isn't particularly precise, but it is light, so the Panda 4x4 feels at home in the city; the car's slightly elevated driving position and excellent all-round vision also help when you're manoeuvring.

However, at higher speeds, wind- and road noise are more intrusive than they are in many rival city cars.

Both engines add to the racket, sounding clattery under even gentle acceleration. However, it's much easier to keep pace with traffic in the diesel, thanks to its extra mid-range muscle.

We've previously tested the Panda 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 with ease.

The approach and departure angles are better than those of any Mini Countryman or Nissan Qashqai.

What's more, Fiat has positioned the Panda's air intake higher for improved wading ability, and the 4x4 gets front and rear undercarriage guards, an electronic locking differential and a torque-on-demand system to transfer power between axles.

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

What's the 2013 Fiat Panda 4x4 like inside?
Aside from some new interior colours and extra switches, the 4x4 looks 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, the 4x4 does 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 that in a Seat Mii, Skoda Citigo or VW Up, but it's well shaped and none of those aforementioned rivals offer four-wheel drive.

The 4x4 sits at the top of the Panda range, so it comes with the folding rear seats that are reserved for higher-spec two-wheel-drive versions.

Climate control, a CD player, 15-inch alloys and electrically adjustable door mirrors are also standard, while sliding rear seats, Bluetooth, sat-nav and an automatic city braking system are on the options list.

Should I buy one?
The Twinair version of the Panda 4x4 costs 13,950 before options, which is a lot for a city car. Meanwhile, the diesel will add a further 1000 to the price.

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

It's clear the Panda 4x4 has some appeal, then, if only to a limited number of buyers. If you are interested, the diesel is worth the extra, because it's more flexible than the petrol and will have much better fuel economy in real-world driving.

What Car? says...

Dacia Duster
Suzuki Jimny

Read the full Fiat Panda review >>

Specification Twinair
Engine size 0.9-litre turbo petrol
Price from 13,950
Power 84bhp
Torque 107lb ft
0-62mph 12.1 seconds
Top speed 103mph
Fuel economy 57.6mpg

Specification Multijet
Engine size 1.3-litre diesel
Price from 14,950
Power 74bhp
Torque 140lb ft
0-62mph 14.5 seconds
Top speed 99mph
Fuel economy 60.1mpg
CO2 125g/km

By Rory White and Steve Huntingford