What is it?
It’s not the briskest engine, nor the most economical and it comes with the most conventional of the engine quartet offered in this third-generation Panda, but the 68bhp 1.2-litre four cylinder will be the cheapest model and is also probably the best all-rounder.
What’s it like?
It’s the smoothest spinning motor, has the most distant rev limit (6300rpm) and issues none of the Twinair’s thrummy vibrations nor the diesel’s admittedly distant rattle. True, the 1.2 misses the 1.3 Multijet’s torquey strength, but this is an engine whose soundtrack fades agreeably into the background.
Order the Panda in one of the more interesting cabin colour-ways and you have a pretty agreeable environment in which to travel, too. The dashboard’s wide, colour-coded perimeter, some subtly stylish instruments and a faux piano-black finish for the main switch control pack in the higher series versions all help you escape the fact that you’re aboard a modestly priced commuter car.
So does the Fiat’s refinement. It rides cobbles with unexpected pliancy and an impressive all-of-a-piece aura, the engine doesn’t shout and on the motorway both wind and road noise prove pleasingly distant. So the prospect of long distance trips should not prompt thoughts of the train. Strangely, the ride is sometimes less good at middling speeds than it is over battered urban Tarmac, the Panda’s wheels pattering slightly, and on the rain-slicked roads around Naples front end grip tended wash away like sand from an ocean-dipped seaside spade.