2013 Fiat Panda 4X4 review
By Ian Lynas, 25th January 2013
Cheeky, chubby looks and a go-anywhere ability are the most interesting traits of the new Panda 4x4 from Fiat. This is a compact car with the off road capability of an SUV, one which up to now has been regarded by many as a city car.
This new version has a dual personality, happy to dart in and out of the urban traffic but should the need arise, able to tackle tough terrain with ease.
I had the opportunity to try it over an off road course at Stoneleigh Park which was designed for Land Rovers and such vehicles. The manner in which it performed was truly amazing and I am quite sure that buyers of this new Fiat will never subject it to such treatment. Even more impressive was the fact that it was equipped with road tyres.
This is the third generation of the Panda 4x4 and is the most sophisticated to date. It retains all of the character of those that have gone before; fun to drive and practical but has now come of age - delivering quality, comfort, technology and safety features.
You will not fail to recognise the 4x4 version with new bumper treatments front and rear, altogether a more chunky appearance.
I had ample opportunity to try the Panda 4x4 both on and off road, but I also took the wheel of a Panda Trekking, which Fiat claim is the world‘s first City Utility Vehicle. This version features the 4x4‘s raised ride height but combines front wheel drive with a sophisticated traction control system to enhance its ability over slippery surfaces.
With the type of climate that we are subjected to in Northern Ireland, both new versions of the Panda are worthy of consideration.
Power choice is the 875cc TwinAir Turbo or the 1.3 litre Multijet 2 turbo diesel. To further enhance the economy figures both come with Start&Stop and there is a gear shift indicator which suggests which gear you should use.
Under the skin of the 4x4 is a sophisticated drive system that employs two differentials and an electrically controlled coupling governed by an electronic control unit. The system is automatic and does not require driver input.
In normal driving conditions 98 per cent of the engine torque is transferred to the front wheels, thus it handles like any front wheel drive car; however when the going gets tough the system increases the proportion of torque sent to the rear wheels. The end result is safer motoring despite the conditions.
The 4x4 features ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) with LED (Electronic Locking Differential) as standard. ELD helps improve traction by braking wheels with poor grip on slippery surfaces. The ELD function can be manually activated at speeds lower than 31mph and there is also an anti-skid system.
Both of the new Pandas are well appointed with six airbags, ABS and there is the option of City Brake Control, a low speed collision mitigation system; this reads the road ahead and when it detects an obstacle in the Panda‘s path, it applies the brakes automatically.
The performance of both models is far from earth shattering, however economy is impressive, 60.1mpg for the 4x4 diesel while in the Trekking it is 67.3mpg and with the TwinAir, 61.4mpg (Trekking) and 57.6mpg (4x4).
Keen pricing is yet another positive with the two new Pandas; the 4x4 with the TwinAir engine costs £13,950 and the Multijet engine £14,950. The Trekking at £12,450 gets you into the TwinAir powered version and £13,450 for the diesel version.