Fiat says the latest evolution of the Panda has made a “qualitative leap in comfort, technology and safety equipment, and has a modern, harmonious look”, something which Fiat won't look tamper with too much with its impending facelift.

Translated, if the looks ain’t broke, don’t fix ’em; just give the punters more value for money with equipment and a better drive to boot.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
Visibility is decent all round — this is a small car that doesn’t need parking sensors at either end

At its core, the new Panda shares hardware with the second-generation model but has nevertheless been very substantially reworked. The wheelbase is unaltered, at 2300mm, but the body is 114mm longer, 11mm taller and 65mm wider at the waistline.

Aero drag factor is cut from an unimpressive 0.40 to 0.33. Body stiffness is improved, and Fiat also claims major reductions in noise and vibration from engine, wind and road. The Panda now weighs 930kg, about 60kg more than the outgoing model.

The body delivers modern crash performance in addition to its improved aerodynamic qualities. Also new is a stylish and practical dashboard – it provides several of the 14 on-board storage spaces – extensively revised front suspension that benefits from a stiffer shell, tweaks to the rear axle and a much wider equipment choice.

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Powering the little Panda is two power units - a 68bhp 1.2-litre naturally aspirated engine and a 0.9-litre TwinAir unit, which is the only engine to come with Fiat's robotised manual gearbox.

But the Panda range isn't just limited to a fairly cute looking supermini, with the Panda 4x4 and the rugged Panda Cross. The 4x4 lives up to its name, with its fitment of all-weather tyres, off-road-styled bumpers and an aluminium skid plate, while the even more rough and ready Cross has a raised ride height, front and rear bumpers, and more prominent side mouldings

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