These features are grouped under a new Terrain Control wheel, found between the front seats. Its modes include Auto, in which the Cross is effectively front-wheel drive (98% of drive goes to the front) unless slip is detected – although up to 100 per cent of the torque can be apportioned to the rear axle. There's also an Off Road mode, where the differential is primed to split torque, reducing response times.
The differential lock comes into play in this mode and the stability system switch to a more appropriate setting. Finally, there’s a new Hill Decent feature, active below 15mph, which requires the driver only to steer on steep inclines.
Fiat's Panda Cross also benefits from larger all-season tyres and steel protective underguards, further boosting its off-road credentials. It’s still not going to put you in contention for outright victory in the Paris-Dakar, but traversing grassy fields or rocky lanes are well within reach.
Like the regular 4x4, there’s a choice of TwinAir Petrol or 1.3-litre Multijet diesel engines: the petrol with a six-speed gearbox including an extra low first gear, the diesel making do with a five-speed gearbox.
A subtle recalibration liberates an additional five horsepower for both engines (taking outputs to 89bhp and 79bhp respectively) but both cars drive in a very similar manner to the standard 4x4.
The little Twinair is much the zestier drive, its surprising lack of refinement offset by its even more unexpected mid-range shove that dies away with revs.
At motorway speeds the additional extra gear over the diesel makes for much more relaxed progress, and with less weight over the front axle the petrol Cross is a livelier, engaging car through corners.
It might not offer the same simple entertainment as Pandas of old, but it’s appreciably more refined in both its ride quality and general demeanour.
Inside, the Cross features bespoke colours and fabrics, and plenty of standard equipment including climate control and Blue&Me Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
Then again, so it should at £15,945 for the TwinAir and a further £1,000 for the Diesel option.