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Car Review: New Fiat Panda

Now there’s a Fiat for everyone…

The Fiat Panda first launched in South Africa in 2013 and now, Fiat has extended its Panda range to include 4×4 and Cross models for the first time.

At launch, Fiat representatives explained that in order to cater for every customer’s needs, they wanted to expand their range choice to include a car for everyone. While compact vehicles (particularly compact crossovers) have taken South Africa’s new car market by storm, Fiat has introduced its version of affordable crossovers with the Panda Cross and 4×4.

Goes anywhere, parks anywhere

The Fiat Cross and 4×4 models prove that you can have a stylish and capable 4×4 vehicle without having to fork out your life savings. The 4×4 model starts at R229, 900 while the Cross (which has slightly different specifications, like metal roof rails) starts at R249, 900. The new city version of the Panda is also available and starts at R184, 900 for the Easy model (Lounge goes for R199, 900).

While attending the launch in Durban for these new, fun little vehicles I spent most of my time testing the 4×4 and Cross models and I really enjoyed discovering how much these cars offer for so little…

The Fiat Panda 4×4 and Cross

From the outside, the new Fiat Pandas maintain their bright and cheeky Italian flair, with hints of styling from the Fiat 500 such as squirkle features that carry throughout. But the 4×4 and Cross versions showcase a more robust and solid exterior, with higher ground clearance, a brand-new bumper incorporating a skid plate, roof rails and 15 inch steel wheels that feature a unique hubcap design that makes any damage done off-road much more affordable and maintainable.

Very cool, funky and new colours are available on the new Panda range, including a new bright yellow which is unique to the Cross model and really resembles its ‘fun-to-drive’ and quirky character.

Inside the Fiat Panda Cross, you’re accompanied by comfortable seats, a simple yet practical dashboard and chunky and functional buttons and dials, which are easy to handle while driving thanks to their size. It’s fairly roomy for a car this compact and storage space in the front is sufficient enough to store water bottles and accessories.

Getting off-road with the Panda is where things really get exciting. The Panda Cross offers the same four-wheel drive system as the 4×4 model and a range of technology and features make the 4×4 and Cross models extremely capable and easy to drive on different terrains, even for those new to off-roading or 4x4ing. I got to experience some fun little obstacles at Durban’s Killarney 4×4 track with the Panda Cross and really enjoyed how capable it was. With its hill-descent Traction Controller, the Panda does all the work for you, even with its 2-cylinder engine!

Low capacity, award-winning engines on the 4×4 and Cross models means that running costs aren’t going to be as much as you’d expect from a 4×4. The 4×4 model offers 63 kW at 5, 500 rpm, while the Cross offers 66kW at 5, 500 rpm and both models power 145 N.m of torque.

If you’re looking for an affordable, funky little crossover with off-roading capabilities for those weekend getaways, the Fiat Panda 4×4 and Cross models sit firmly among my top favourites. It’s a car that offers the quirk of a city car, with 4×4 capabilities, and they’re going to look great on the road this summer! I truly hope that anyone who invests in a Panda 4×4 or Cross goes beyond just driving it around the city, because not taking it off-road and experiencing its capabilities would be a real shame.

 

Pricing for the Fiat Pandas starts at R184 900 for the city version and R229 900 for the 4×4. The Cross starts at R249 900. All Fiat vehicles are available at dealerships countrywide and carry a 3 year/100 000 km warranty and service plan.

 

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