Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Fire up the.... Fiat Panda

IF FIAT'S 500 is Kylie Minogue then the Panda is Dannii. Attractive for all sorts of reasons but sadly overshadowed by a more famous sibling.

Which is a shame, because Fiat's funky little city car has always been a big hit in its own right. It might not have the cute retro charm of the 500, but the Panda, a former European Car of the Year, has always held its own because it's roomier, just as much fun to drive and - crucially - cheaper.

It's much the same story with this new model, which is a little curvier and a little weightier than the outgoing version, but otherwise it's a case of meet the new boss, same as the old boss. It's got the same high rise stance - which is why it's roomier inside than the 500 - and styling that's evolutionary rather than revolutionary, but stay with me a little longer before you reach for that 500 brochure.

With the 1.2, eight valve engine in the one I tested offering up just 69bhp it's emphatically not a fast car - worry not, other powerplants are available - but I love is not the power, but the way it uses what it's got to its advantage. It's light on its toes, easy to drive and always feels a bit frantic - but that's a good thing. It is a loveable little car in the finest Italian tradition, being a whole lot of fun in a simple, unpretentious sort of way.

But while the interior seems a little cheaper in the quality of its materials than say, VW's new Up, it's in here that the Panda scores its biggest trump card over the 500 - what you lose in looks you gain in room, and because it's a five door it's also far easier for your friends to get in and out of.

It's not as polished as the Up but think about this way; if you reckon you'd find a holiday in Milan a little bit more memorable than one in Berlin, than go for the Panda because its sense of mischief will prevail over the Veedub's sturdiness.

Keep it to yourself - given the choice of a 500 and a Panda, I'd go for the latter.

1 comment:

  1. Both these Fiat car models have their own distinct styles, and each has a unique character of its own. Because of that, they both attract different people with different tastes. My friend told me that he likes the Panda more than the 500. He’s an adventurer, and he uses the Panda for off-road trips sometimes. He told me that it’s actually a lot like the Land Rover.