What is it?
The ‘Cross’ version of the current third generation Fiat Panda 4x4 offers additional off-road ability, a more overtly stylised design and a small shot of extra power – all, naturally, for a higher price.
We’re fans of the regular car for offering the unusual combination of pint pot supermini with field-crossing competence: this promises more of the same.
What's it like?
Much like a Panda 4x4, but you’re more likely to get noticed driving this bonsai off-roader down a high street – particularly in the bright yellow ‘launch colour’ – and you’ll have a slightly better chance of traversing obstacles if you do take it off road.
The former has everything to do with redesigned front and rear ends. The most notable change is the addition of a large frontal skid plate, complete with exposed twin towing eyes.
The latter because the Cross sits 9mm higher than the already raised up regular 4x4, benefitting from further improved approach and departure angles.
Fiat's all-wheel drive running gear is carried over, meaning the same electro-hydraulic centre clutch and so-called electronic differential lock, which in this case uses the stability system to brake individual wheels when required to shuffle the torque around.
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.