22 April 2005

Fiat is betting on all-wheel drive to give its flagging fortunes a serious boost. The cars caught here will quickly expand the Italian maker’s all-wheel-drive portfolio over the next 12 months. The first will be a tougher-looking brother for the Panda 4x4 – the Simba. Based on the concept car of the same name, mechanically this will be almost identical to the current Panda off-roader, which means a viscous 4x4 system and 1.2-litre petrol and 1.3-litre diesel engines to choose from when it arrives early next year.

From a styling perspective, the Simba will really stand out. Buried underneath a layer of disguise in our picture, its chunky look will provide a more glance-grabbing, rugged flavour than any other Panda. Larger than both Simba and Panda 4x4, and due for a spring 2006 UK introduction, is the 4x4 that Fiat has been developing with Suzuki. For the Japanese maker, it will be the replacement for the Grand Vitara. For Fiat, it will create an unprecedented model designed to seize an early slice of one of Europe’s fastest growing segments.

Similar models from Renault, Peugeot and Citroën (with the help of Mitsubishi) and Nissan (in the shape of the Qashqai) are at varying stages of development. Fiat’s entry should be the first to market though, featuring switchable four-wheel drive.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • BMW M3 CS 2018 review hero front
    First Drive
    20 May 2018
    The CS meters out ruthless performance with clinical control. It’s questionable value for money, but a stellar drivers’ car, and a fitting finale for the F80 M3
  • BMW M5 2018 longterm review hero front
    First Drive
    20 May 2018
    We rate the new M5 as best in class. Will we think the same after three months with it?
  • Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 2018 review hero front
    Car review
    18 May 2018
    Porsche seeks to answer its Cayman critics with a new range-topping model
  • Jeep Wrangler (JL) Unlimited Rubicon 2018 review hero front
    First Drive
    18 May 2018
    New electronic technologies meet traditional mechanical strengths to deliver peerless off-road prowess with added everyday appeal
  • BMW 2 Series Active Tourer 2018 review hero front
    First Drive
    18 May 2018
    New engines, gearboxes and looks spruce up the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer for 2018