Superminis: Audi - Fiat
* New cars coming in 2012 * Superminis revealed today * More throughout the week...
Our reigning Car of the year is brilliant in just about every way, but it isnt as practical as some five-door rivals. The new Sportback version thats due in the spring will rectify that.
The two extra doors make rear access easier than in three-door models, and a slightly taller body and tweaked packaging creates fractionally more head- and shoulder-room. Three - rather than two - rear seats come as standard, too.
Theres also the option of having the entire roof painted in a different colour to the body; in the three-door, you can have the roof rails in a different colour, but not the centre section.
The engine line-up is the same, so includes 84bhp 1.2, and 121bhp and 182bhp 1.4 petrols, as well as 103bhp 1.6 and 141bhp 2.0 diesels.
The Sportback will cost 560 more than the equivalent three-door, with prices ranging from 13,980 to 21,270.
What is it? Fresh look for third-generation Panda
Price from 8500 (est)
On sale Spring
Despite the curvy design, you can still tell this new model is a Fiat Panda. The front end has a softer, more refined look to it, but the car still carries the distinctive upright stance of the current model.
The new Panda is also a bit larger than the outgoing version: its 12cm longer and 6cm wider, giving passengers more space.
Thinner backs to the front seats gives rear occupants more kneeroom. There are some new Fiat 500 influences in the cabin, most notably in the seat designs and the dashboard layout.
The petrol engine line-up includes the 0.9-litre 84bhp turbocharged Twinair and the 68bhp 1.2 units from the 500, plus a new 0.9-litre 64bhp Twinair engine. We've driven the petrol versions and the diesel option - a 74bhp 1.3.
In time, there'll be the option of an automatic gearbox for the Twinair engines. All bar the 1.2 petrol will get stop-start as standard.
Safety equipment includes four airbags, ISOFIX child-seat attachments and anti-whiplash front head restraints as standard. Meanwhile, Fiats Blue&me system for hands-free phone and MP3 player connectivity boosts everyday convenience.
The new Panda will go on sale in the spring, with prices expected to start at around 8500 around the same as the outgoing models. Fiat is also planning to introduce a four-wheel-drive Panda at some point.