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Fiat Panda

The Fiat Panda is a mini car produced in three generations so far since 1980. Till 2003 when its second generation was launched, the car underwent only minor changes. In 2004, the New Panda (or Nuova Panda in Italian) was awarded the European Car of the Year title. At the 2011 International Motor Show in Germany, the third-generation Fiat Panda, the current one, was introduced.

Obviously, the Fiat Panda is valuable for the automaker. In the course of its 35-year lifespan, there have been about seven million Pandas marketed all over the world (about 200,000 units a year). It offers stylish appearance, spacious and practical cabin, agile driving, good fuel economy, and a decent number of infotainment and safety features and can rival such models as the Skoda Citigo, Volkswagen Up!, Peugeot 108, Kia Picanto, SEAT Mii, Renault Twingo, and some others. It makes the Fiat Panda one of the most fascinating city cars out there coming at a reasonable price in addition.

Appearance

What distinguishes the Fiat Panda (the Fiat Panda of the third generation in particular) from its competitors is that it’s more than a city/economy car. It’s wrong to assume that it provides minimum of everything: minimum engine power, minimum equipment, and minimum comfort. The Fiat Panda possesses all the essential features of modern vehicles despite diminutive size. If you’re going to use it as the only car, the Panda is suitable for this role.

The third-generation Fiat Panda doesn’t look as boxy as its predecessors. The car became larger being 3,653 mm long, 1,882 mm wide, and 1,551 mm high. The manufacturer asserts that the body became much stronger as well as the car’s aerodynamic qualities were also upgraded.

Interior and Comfort

Judging by its size, you’d never say that the Fiat Panda can be so spacious inside. There’s plenty of head room front and back due to the car’s upright stance and tall roof. There’s also sufficient leg room in it. Unfortunately, knee space on a driver’s side is somewhat restricted. The gear lever mounted high on the centre console is to blame.

A tall roof together with large windows makes the cabin of the new Fiat Panda airy, light, and easy to breathe in. Besides, they provide superb visibility.

Rear-seat passengers can enlarge leg room in their compartment or luggage space by sliding their seats backward and forward respectively. The front-passenger seat’s backrest can be folded down serving as a table. The Fiat Panda offers a 225-260-litre boot (depending on the position of the rear seats) apart from fourteen storage compartments across the cabin for keeping knick-knacks.

It immediately catches the eye that much attention was paid to the interior design of the new Fiat Panda. In comparison to the previously produced models, it’s considerably upgraded. While its stylishness helps you imagine you are in a car of a higher class, quality of the materials used makes you come down to earth. In this regard, its rivals outshine the Fiat Panda.

The car’s dashboard and centre console look pretty unusual. The thing is they house square controls, dials, and screens with rounded edges (the manufacturer coined the name for such a shape - ‘squircle’). Even the steering wheel and gear lever are of such a shape. All the controls are well arranged and legible, thus easy to use.

A person behind the Fiat Panda’s height-adjustable steering wheel enjoys a rather high driving position, meaning they have a commanding view of the road and can manoeuvre and park easily. A City button on the dashboard can make the power steering even lighter.

Powertrain

There’s a range of one diesel and two petrol engines for the 2015 Fiat Panda. They together with a compact body make the car in question a perfect choice for city traffic.

A base 1.2-litre petrol engine produces 69 hp and makes 0-62 mph happen in 14.2 seconds. Note that it isn’t meant for driving at high speeds for long. The EPA estimated it at 55.4 mpg with CO2 emissions rate of 119 g/km. The engine isn’t demanding in maintenance, thus isn’t expensive to run (new Fiat Pandas with this engine under the bonnet are the cheapest in the range).

A 0.9-litre turbocharged petrol TwinAir engine is more powerful. It makes 84 bhp and 104 lb/ft of torque. Maximum speed it can gain is 110 mph. It accelerates to 62 mph in 11.2 seconds. The unit returns 67.3 mpg and emanates 99 g/km of CO2.

The only diesel model for the Fiat Panda is 1.3-litre MultiJet. It’s the most fuel-efficient producing 72.4 mpg and 104 g/km of CO2 and the most appropriate for driving on the highway. It reaches the 62 mph mark slower than the TwinAir but faster than the entry-level unit.

While all the engines for the Fiat Panda are mated to a standard five-speed manual gearbox, the TwinAir is the only one that can be paired with a Dualogic automatic transmission.

Features

The Fiat Panda comes in four trim levels: Pop, Easy, Lounge, and Trekking. Moreover, you can get the Panda Cross high-spec model.

The Fiat Panda Pop car runs on 14-inch steel wheels and can be equipped with power windows at the front, central locking, air conditioner, roof rails, etc. The Fiat’s Blue&Me infotainment system is available on all the models. It includes steering wheel-mounted audio controls and smartphone connectivity.

The Fiat Panda Easy cars add body-coloured door handles and mirrors to body-coloured bumpers, alloys, privacy glass, fog lamps at the front, panoramic sunroof, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Move up to the Lounge spec and you’ll get 15-inch alloy wheels and heated door mirrors in addition. The range-topping Fiat Panda Trekking also offers electronic stability program and hill holder among some other things.

You can equip your Fiat Panda with several packages. The Style package provides fog lamps and alloys while with the Climate package you’ll get heated mirrors and windshield and climate control. If you want to make your vehicle more practical, order the Flex package. It includes a height-adjustable driver’s seat, split-folding seats at the back, fold-up table, and a luggage net.

Safety

The Fiat Panda is an easy-to-maintain car. If it breaks down (it can happen owners report), it isn’t a problem in most cases to repair it. However, the model isn’t as safe as its rivals in spite of the fact it received four out of five stars from Euro NCAP.

The car is equipped with ABS, traction control, and tyre pressure monitoring system. Opt for the Active Safety package and you’ll get rear parking sensors, hill holder, and city braking system (the latter’s task is to bring the car to a halt in the event of foreseeing inevitable collision with a vehicle ahead).

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