Despite having been around for three decades, the Panda 4x4 remains something of a novelty in the UK. There are only four genuine competitors to consider: Suzuki’s SX4 and the new Dacia Duster along side the Vauxhall Adam Rocks and the Fiat 500X.
The Duster is predictably cheaper with a petrol engine (although poorly equipped), while the SX4 and Adam measures up on the kit list but is more expensive, while the 500X is generally more expensive.
Fiat will argue that its TwinAir engine is offering a considerably more efficient experience than its closest competitors’ . Certainly, at 114g/km of CO2, it is less expensive to tax, and with 18,000-mile service intervals it is potentially cheaper to run, too.
However, the engine’s main limitation is well known: the combined economy claim of 57.6mpg is all but unattainable. Our gentle touring run yielded only 44.2mpg, and yes, that was in Eco mode. By the time we came to give the Panda back, its average had fallen to just 37.2mpg – dangerously close to the kind of figure one might conceivably expect from a petrol engine with two more cylinders. But a day-to-day average of 40mpg would be possible – far from exceptional, but perfectly acceptable.
Fiat claims that the 1.3-litre diesel will return in the region of 60.1mpg - higher than the aforementioned Duster, in diesel form, which will average 56.5mpg. Again, in the real world, that may prove somewhat difficult to achieve.
It most likely will, however, be easier to attain higher economy figures in diesel versions of the Panda 4x4 than in the TwinAir.