From £8,896
Willing if modestly powered 1.2 is the probably the pick of Panda bunch

Our Verdict

Fiat Panda
Panda’s 4 star EuroNCAP crash score falls short of some rivals

A very fine multi-use little car that offers an enticing ownership proposition

  • First Drive

    Fiat Panda 1.2 review

    Willing if modestly powered 1.2 is the probably the pick of Panda bunch
  • First Drive

    Fiat Panda 1.2 Lounge

    It is fitting that the Panda with the smallest price tag should be the best.
15 December 2011

What is it?

It’s not the briskest engine, nor the most economical and it comes with the most conventional of the engine quartet offered in this third-generation Panda, but the 68bhp 1.2-litre four cylinder will be the cheapest model and is also probably the best all-rounder.

What’s it like?

It’s the smoothest spinning motor, has the most distant rev limit (6300rpm) and issues none of the Twinair’s thrummy vibrations nor the diesel’s admittedly distant rattle. True, the 1.2 misses the 1.3 Multijet’s torquey strength, but this is an engine whose soundtrack fades agreeably into the background.

Order the Panda in one of the more interesting cabin colour-ways and you have a pretty agreeable environment in which to travel, too. The dashboard’s wide, colour-coded perimeter, some subtly stylish instruments and a faux piano-black finish for the main switch control pack in the higher series versions all help you escape the fact that you’re aboard a modestly priced commuter car.

So does the Fiat’s refinement. It rides cobbles with unexpected pliancy and an impressive all-of-a-piece aura, the engine doesn’t shout and on the motorway both wind and road noise prove pleasingly distant. So the prospect of long distance trips should not prompt thoughts of the train. Strangely, the ride is sometimes less good at middling speeds than it is over battered urban Tarmac, the Panda’s wheels pattering slightly, and on the rain-slicked roads around Naples front end grip tended wash away like sand from an ocean-dipped seaside spade.

Surprisingly, ESP isn’t standard. But the Panda handles tidily enough, roll adequately countered despite its relative height and the steering responding with fair precision if little feel. All of which makes it modestly entertaining, and more than modestly comfortable. It’s a shame that the centre console carrying the handily high-mounted gearlever robs you of in-board kneeroom in an otherwise accommodating cockpit, but backbenchers will enjoy noticeably more room than in the previous Panda, and there’s a usefully enlarged boot besides.

Should I buy one?

Yes. The Panda is a budget machine that’s more savoury than most, can be had with a neat TomTom sat nav pod and some attractive options. It’s certainly got all the appeal of the old Panda, and as such should prove one of the best options in the class.

Fiat Panda 1.2 Pop

Price: £8700 est; Top speed: 102mph; 0-62mph: 14.2sec; Economy: 54.3mpg; Co2: 120g/km; Kerbweight: 940kg; Engine: in-line four, petrol, 1242cc; Power: 68bhp at 5500rpm; Torque: 75lb ft at 3000rpm; Gearbox: 5spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
16

16 December 2011

I know that it's a very good car, but it just seems too expensive next to its predecessor.

16 December 2011

I quite like it and if I were in the market for car this size, I'd definitely be interested. It could do with a bit more ooomph though, acceleration wise.

16 December 2011

it was the frisky, pert, utilitarian, good value nature of the just replaced Panda that made it so fresh when launched and still looks good today.

This podgy, rounded more refined model misses the point completely, small cars should be fun. loveable, cheap and cheerful. Middle age spread and "plastics to die for" have no real place in this part of the market.

16 December 2011

[quote jonfortwo]This podgy, rounded more refined model misses the point completely, small cars should be fun. loveable, cheap and cheerful. Middle age spread and "plastics to die for" have no real place in this part of the market[/quote]

That is exactly my problem with this car. If I wanted a refined supermini, then I am spoiled for choice - FIAT already offers a couple of cars that suit that brief. When it comes to filling the gap for the type of car that it is known for, it comes up with this. I'm not saying that it's a bad car, but I would have preferred it if they had left it to be more basic, and therefore more cheap and enjoyable. This car could have been a lot better. FIAT knows that the previous generation Panda was a massive success, but I don't think that it knows why, otherwise this car wouldn't be so grown up and expensive.

16 December 2011

[quote jonfortwo]

it was the frisky, pert, utilitarian, good value nature of the just replaced Panda that made it so fresh when launched and still looks good today.

This podgy, rounded more refined model misses the point completely, small cars should be fun. loveable, cheap and cheerful. Middle age spread and "plastics to die for" have no real place in this part of the market

[/quote]

Excellent point to which I'd like to tie in the comment I had made about the Panda in the Twinair "First Drive"

"I have no doubt this new example will be measurably an improvement but when it comes to intangable qualities like cheek and charm fans of the previous Panda may well find this bigger bulkier model a bit of a retrograde step"

16 December 2011

I disagree with the comments about increased prices. In Italy, like for like, prices have been announced to be in line with the outgoing model, which is no small feat if you consider that production has moved from Eastern Europe to Southern Europe, something of a first. Perhaps the strong devaluation of the GBP has something to do with it?

Footprint increase compared to the outgoing model (which will continue to be built in Poland, by the way) is less than what we are used to seeing from every manufacturer with each new iteration. Also, increases in legroom and boot space are more than proportional, so the packaging has actually improved.

Having rented one in the past I must say that road holding and interior quality were a bit of a let down, so things seem to have improved here as well.

As for the looks, I like the way it has evolved, without losing its nature and charme. Better than the old version (which was a bit too square, in line with the Idea and Stilo) and, to my personal taste, better than the overstyled sibling, the Ypsilon.

16 December 2011

As with all Fiats these will be available for 2 or 3K off list price easily, sometimes more via the internet.

16 December 2011

we had a 1.2 petrol panda eleganza and it was brilliant...roomy,economical and great fun to drive...it also has climate control and a punchy stereo....wish we had kept it when it got to 4,we havent found anything to match it until this new one.

17 December 2011

The 1.2 would be my choice. Simple and cheap, nippy and smooth. Why over complicate things with a diesel or TwinAir? I've driven a couple of cars with the 1.2 Fiat engine and it's an impressive little unit despite having been around, in one form or another, for longer than I have.

17 December 2011

[quote Will86]The 1.2 would be my choice. Simple and cheap, nippy and smooth. Why over complicate things with a diesel or TwinAir? [/quote]

+1

The 1.2 is really the only engine this type of car needs (well, maybe something else for a "performance" panda). Its economical enough, simple nornally aspirated, performs above its weight for its modest output and gets reasonable real-world mpg.

I, for one, certainly wouldn't touch the 85 bhp twin air - Autocar tested one a year or two ago and its real world economy figures weren't anywhere close to the quoted official figures, even being in a relatively light-weight model. Likewise the recent first drive of the n/a twin air sounded like it was gutless and was having to work hard (thus potentially poor real world mpg) for limited performance.

Certainly think this one may appeal (better space, safety, equipment levels) to more people than the old one - just hope that the Italian build can match the reasonable standards of the previous Polish-built one, which had one of the best reputations for build quality out of the whole Fiat range.

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