From £8,896
It is fitting that the Panda with the smallest price tag should be the best.
22 February 2012

What is it?

This is the first time we've driven the Fiat Panda on British tarmac, and in a right hand drive configuration.

The 1.2-litre FIRE engine tested here will be the most popular engine in the Fiat Panda range, accounting for around 50 per cent of sales. It sits between the 875cc TwinAir and the 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel unit, and offers higher levels of refinement and NVH.

Most importantly, it’s the cheapest engine of the three and represents the best all-round choice.

What’s it like?

Surprisingly refined at speed. At 70mph, the engine is hushed and smooth, and sounds pleasant under moderate acceleration. Only when passing the 5000rpm mark on the way to the 6300rpm rev limit does it sound strained. The lack of torque – 75lb ft, versus the TwinAir’s 107lb ft and the diesel’s 140lb ft – is no problem around town, where the engine proves smooth and nippy, but at motorway speeds, overtakes need careful planning.

The Panda’s 14.2sec 0-62mph is pretty pedestrian, but it is largely a moot point in a car which will eek out its days slotting through traffic in town. It’s nice to know a city car can cut it on the motorway, where it feels stable. Low speed ride is good, and when the speed increases, the front MacPherson and rear torsion beam suspension continues to isolate the worst of Britain’s roads from the cabin. For all the talk of body roll, it’s never really a problem, and the steering provides enough feel to corner with confidence.

Moving the steering wheel from left to right has revealed a slightly off-set driving position, but after a morning behind the wheel, we were free from aches and pains.

Fiat’s marketing department is keen to trade on the back-to-basics nature of the original model, but the third generation wants for very little. The cabin is practical and well built - if lacking some of the tactility of the Volkswagen Up - and very stylish. Repeated use of "squircle" shapes around the cabin looks a little contrived in places, but the rounded-off square shapes for the instrumentation works well, if not for the steering wheel.


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Although the new Panda shares the same basic frame construction with the second-generation model, Fiat says all other components are new. Despite this, interior space is improved, and slim seats add additional room in the back. The Panda will be sold as a four seater, but a fifth seat is a £100 option. Other peculiarities include the lack of a start-stop system on the 1.2-litre engine (it keeps costs down, and could make it easier for dealers to 'walk' buyers up to more expensive models, says Fiat) and the lack of standard-fit ESP on any model. As a result, Euro NCAP awarded the Panda four stars, while the Up achieved a full five star rating.

Should I buy one?

The raspy and eager TwinAir engine might grab the headlines, but most buyers want something that’s cheap to run, quiet and capable, which is where the 1.2 fits neatly. On paper, it might be the thirstiest model in the range, but it will certainly be easier to achieve the official combined cycle figure of 54.3mpg than it will be with the two-cylinder unit.

It’s also the cheapest engine in the range, and in a car that trades heavily on its honesty and the appeal of its basic nature, it is fitting that the model with the smallest price tag should be the best.

Stuart Milne

Fiat Panda 1.2 Lounge

Price: £10,050; Top speed: 102mph; 0-62mph: 14.2secs; Economy: 54.3mpg; CO2: 120g/km; Kerb weight: 1015kg; Engine: 4-cyls, 1242cc, petrol; Power: 69bhp at 5500rpm; Torque: 75lb ft at 3000rpm; Gearbox: 5-spd manual

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22 February 2012

[quote Autocar] The raspy and eager TwinAir engine might grab the headlines, but most buyers want something that’s cheap to run, quiet and capable, which is where the 1.2 fits neatly. [/quote]

Certainly seems to be the sweet spot of the range.

It could have been so easy for Fiat to have canned this engine in the pursuit of lower CO2 figures and pushed the TwinAir heavily instead but they have actually listened to their customers (and probably their accountants because it is bound to be cheap to build) and continued to produce the simpler, cheaper to maintain, 1.2.

For that, I applaud them.

22 February 2012

Fiat doing what Fiat does best small cheap simple runabouts . Im none to sure about the squircals inside but nevertheless I prefer this to the Up !

Im still unconvinced that all these small turbo petrols will be cheap to run longterm and none of them seem to get anywhere near their projected consumption figures in real life . I still beleive in a bigger less strained basic engine giving less headaches longterm .

Having said all that a 100bhp version would be fun .

22 February 2012

I like it. Looking forward to having a look at one. Seems to be spacious enough and I really like the dashboard. However, I do think Fiat have messed up with regards to the standard specification. Electric mirrors are a £50 extra on every single model. On a car costing £10,000+, I think they should be standard. Additionally, it's an odd decision of Fiat's to keep it as a 4-seater for now, even more bizarre is that the rear seat doesn't even split 50/50! Or so it would appear from the photos.

22 February 2012

^Ignore my previous post... it would appear that Fiat have corrected the website so that electric heated mirrors are standard on the Lounge.

22 February 2012

Saw some being unloaded from a car transporter to the local FIAT dealer. They look at lot better in the metal. Hit for FIAT I hope

22 February 2012

Vauxhall will be relieved that Fiat have only made the steering wheel APPEAR squared off, by the use of mouldings, rather than actually fit a 'squircle' wheel.

22 February 2012

My 2nd car was a Fiat Uno 1.1. Reading this article brings back great memories of hooning around the Devon countryside with my foot flat to the floor and various terrified friends aboard.

All Fiat small cars good....all Fiat big cars bad....

22 February 2012

My first car was the original Panda, a 1.0 or 980cc or something. Understeered like crazy but as a 17 year old it was great. Freedom. Shame about the regular snapping of clutch cable though.

I hope the new one manages to be built as well as the last one now that they've changed the factory/country.

22 February 2012

This sounds like a jolly good little car. I was playing around with the Fiat configurator and apart from some strange colour choices (beige or purple anyone?), I was wondering why would one have to delete the 60/40 split rear seats, third rear seatbelt and rear parking sensors in order to get a sunroof ? Any ideas ?

22 February 2012

I'm sure Fiat will find plenty of buyers for these, which is good as they do still produce some interesting cars.

I hope the interior looks better in person though, because in the photos it's nothign short of disgusting! What the hell kind of colour is that for a dash/doorcards


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