Fiat goes for methane motoring
13 September 2006

Amidst the Italian power and luxury at the Paris show (Alfa’s 8C ; Lancia’s Delta HPE concept ), Fiat will have two rather more environmentally friendly machines, both running on methane.

The bizarrely-named Panda Panda will be on sale in Italy from January, and uses both methane and petrol to power its 1.2-litre 52bhp engine, taken from the standard car.

Methane’s lower CO2 emissions are its major advantage: the Panda Panda emits 114g/km in methane mode versus 133g/km in petrol mode. Methane also produces very little particulate matter or NOx – so it’s well-suited to urban driving. Fiat sold 24,000 methane-powered cars across Europe last year.

Having two fuel sources also increases the car's range. The standard petrol tank remains, while the two methane tanks mean an extra 186 miles on gas power alone (the Panda Panda uses a Panda 4x4 floorplan, the tanks taking the space of the four-wheel drive system).

The Multipla Multi-eco concept goes one stage further by adding bioethanol to the mix. As in the Panda Panda, there are separate tanks for the methane, while the main fuel tank can take E85 bioethanol and petrol in any combination – the car's ECU sorts it all out.

As carbon dioxide is absorbed when the plant crops used to make bioethanol are grown, its CO2 impact is even less than that of methane, making the Multipla Multipla, sorry, Multi-eco, even greener than the Panda Panda.

The Panda Multi-eco concept from the Geneva show in February has turned into the production reality of the Panda Panda; whether a production Multipla Multi-eco reaches showrooms remains to be seen.

Our Verdict

Citroën Grand C4 Picasso

The Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is a stylish, spacious and well-priced compact MPV with seven seats. Auto 'box is not good and residuals poor

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