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Fiat Panda (2004 - 2012)

THE BEAR NECESSITIES (some text hidden)

BY ANDY ENRIGHT

Introductionword count: 85

Although it was a good deal plusher than its rather utilitarian forebear, Fiat's 2004 generation Panda nevertheless filled a niche for those looking for inexpensive, cheeky but fun transport. Winner of the 2004 European Car of The Year award, the Panda's image got a significant fillip and sales have been strong ever since. Used demand is similarly high so it's unlikely you'll find any screaming bargains. Nevertheless it's worth shelling out a small premium for the Panda. It's got a personality all of its own.

Modelsword count: 23

Models Civered: five door hatch 1.1, 1.2, 1.4 petrol, 1.3 diesel (Active, Dynamic, Dynamic AirCon, Dynamic SkyDome, Dynamic Sound, 100HP, Dynamic 4x4, Eleganza)

Historyword count: 257

The second generation Panda didn't have the easiest start to life. Originally slated to be called the Gingo, Renault did Fiat a huge favour by insisting they ditch this awful moniker because it sounded too similar to their Twingo - a car that competes for the same market share. Quite why Fiat wanted to ditch the Panda name in the first place is a little baffling as it's still remembered by most as a car that was inexpensive, rugged and ahead of its time; qualities you'd think Fiat would have wanted for association with their citycar. Picking up the European Car of The Year award is often a poisoned chalice and there have been a long history of duffers being given this gong, but the Panda was a worthy recipient. Mind you, choice wasn't a Panda watchword when it arrived in the UK with only 1.1 and 1.2-litre petrol powerplants on offer. Sales proved strong despite the lack of a diesel engine, a situation rectified in early 2005 when a 1.3-litre Multijet oil burner was slotted into the range. At the same time there was the return of yet another favourite - the Panda 4x4. Once a favourite of the country set, the Panda 4x4 was as close to indestructible as it's possible for an Italian car to be and the latest model, dubbed the 'Climbing' on the continent, also seemed to be made of the right stuff. The 100HP Panda arrived late in 2006 with a 1.4-litre engine making, as you may have guessed, some 100bhp.

What You Getword count: 419

Although the Panda was last sold in the UK in 1995, it retains a strong identity and this will help kick start sales of the latest car. Unlike some of Fiat's recent offerings that have featured rather 'challenging' styling, the design of the Panda is straightforward, and appealing. It does feature a few stylish touches however, including the profile of the glazed area that arches back to a neat quarter window which in turn butts up against an enormous vertical rear light cluster. The Panda also features well-defined 'hips' that taper forward and integrate with the front wheelarch and headlight areas very slickly. In being able to integrate a good deal of stylish features without the car looking bitty, the designers should be applauded. Originally designed by Bertone and finished with the help of Fiat's in-house design staff, the achievement is all the more laudable for the fact that the Panda is a five-door car. It's often the case that such small cars look great with three doors but as soon as the stylists try to cram five doors into a short body length, the cohesiveness of the lines go out of the window. Not so with the Panda. The interior design is clearly Fiat, with a high mounted gear lever and a no frills look to the fascia. Although it's obviously built down to a price, like its predecessor this becomes an integral part of the car's charm. Unlike the original Panda, however, you're not in the lap of the Gods if the worst comes to the worst. The current Panda might have shaved a few Euros off the production costs when specifying materials and luxury appointments but Fiat have responsibly insisted that the car is fitted with a decent complement of safety kit. Structural solidity is the first factor in this equation and the Panda features body structures that at first cushion impact and then direct energy away from the rigid passenger compartment. It's also the first car in this class to offer no fewer than six airbags as standard on some models. You can choose no fewer than six airbags if you wish, although driver and passenger airbags are standard on all models. Even the 1.2-litre Dynamic model is fitted with anti lock brakes, and brake assist at no extra cost. You'll find £25,000 executive cars that will require you to tick the options box for some of these features, so to find them in a budget citycar is a testament to Fiat's commitment to safety.

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Pictures (high res disabled)

Statistics (subset of data only)

Min

Max

0-62 mph (s):

13.1

13.4

Boot capacity min (litres):

206

861

Combined mpg:

57.6

67.3

CO2 (g/km):

109

113

Extra urban mpg:

70.6

78.4

Height (mm):

1540

... and 8 other stats available

Scoring (subset of scores)

Category: Small Runabouts

Performance
70%
Handling
70%
Comfort
80%
Space
80%
Styling, Build, Value, Equipment, Depreciation, Handling, Insurance and Total scores are available with our full data feed.

This is an excerpt from our full review.
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