The Fiat Panda 4x4 has distilled four-wheel drive flavour packed into it like an SUV stock cube. It has a cabin full of infectious charm and covered in facsimiles of the Panda’s trademark ‘squircle’ design motif.

The round-cornered squares are all over the place: on the instruments, the steering wheel boss, the speaker grilles, the HVAC controls. They’re a cute point of difference of just the sort that a small car needs in order to worm its way into your affections.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Editor-at-large
I like 'squircles' but there's at least one too many

Underneath that obvious colour and character, though, the substance is a little less appealing.

You’ll find rough, flimsy plastics without prying too hard with your fingertips, as well as the odd bit of sharp-edged or mismatched trim. And – because this is a city car on stilts, remember – you won’t find space in abundance.

Even by A-segment standards, the Panda isn’t that roomy. Larger drivers might be able to feel the extremities of the footwell with their knees and the B-pillar close to their shoulder.

Headroom is generous, though, and while the boot is too small for typical SUV paraphernalia such as dog boxes and the like, the split-fold rear seats make up for some of the practicality shortfall. They should be standard fit, though, and not the £100 option they are.

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A range of interior finishes is available but pick the sand-coloured cloth on the seats and olive green fascia to deliver the kind of look that young rural socialites will approve of as heartily as their trendy Hunter wellies and quilted Barbour jackets.

The Panda 4x4's equipment levels aren't that bad either, with luxuries such as air conditioning, electrically adjustable and heated wing mirrors, front foglights and Fiat's Uconnect infotainment system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity. While those pining for the more rugged Panda Cross won't feel shortchanged either, as it comes with LED day-running-lights, silver roof bars, three off-road modes, mud and snow tyres, plus climate control all as standard.

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