From £8,896
Eats roots and leaves

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.

It’s easy to be sceptical about the new Fiat Panda 4x4. The raised ride height, the slap-on plastic body addenda, the new badge – surely it’s just a supermini dressed up as a 4x4?

Which is what I was thinking as we turned off the asphalt and clawed our way up a Tuscan hillside covered in slippery flint and wet pine needles. As we neared the peak and the Panda’s diff-mounted viscous coupling instructed the rear tyres to individually scrabble for traction, any doubts about its abilities vanished. This is no Rover Streetwise or VW Polo Dune – this is the real deal. A proper off-roader for those who don’t want a full-size 4x4 on their drive (and their neighbour’s), yet need the grip and ability of all-wheel drive.

Fiat has stuck with the formula that has bagged its Panda the European Car of the Year award, so all of the affable character that we fell for originally has remained intact. You perch upon a high seat, stirring a sweet-shifting console-mounted gearlever and wielding light, if rather lifeless, steering. The dash and centre console are screwed together with Bavarian diligence and the styling department hasn’t overdone it with the body cladding.

The Panda’s slightly cramped cabin isn’t made any smaller with the addition of the four-wheel-drive hardware underneath, including all-new longitudinal tie-rod rear suspension. And the aptly-named Fire engine suits the Panda’s character, with its instant throttle response and a scaled-down Ferrari-style low-rev growl.

Beginning next year, the Panda 4x4 will be sold in the UK in the higher-spec Climbing trim we tested – anti-lock brakes, dual front airbags, foglights and electric front windows come standard and the 60bhp, 1.2-litre petrol is the sole engine option.

Just like the original version, this four-wheel-drive Panda is utility vehicle in the best sense: it’s affordable, practical and unpretentious.

Jack Galusha

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Mercedes C350e Sport
    First Drive
    28 September 2016
    Petrol-electric C-Class is a surprisingly well-priced alternative to a diesel but not the greatest example of the new ‘PHEV’ breed
  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before
  • Tipo Front
    First Drive
    21 September 2016
    New Fiat Tipo offers impressive space and practicality for a reasonable price. We try the 1.6 diesel on the demanding roads of North Wales