From £8,896
Panda 4x4 gets a fashionable make-over to appeal to a younger market. Currently only for Italy, a decision on UK sales will follow.

To avoid disappoint later, we’ll get this out the way early: for the moment it looks unlikely that we’ll get the Panda Cross in the UK. Fiat UK claims to be conducting a feasibility study, but with the 4x4 accounting for only 10 per cent of UK Panda sales (25 per cent across the rest of Europe), the case for a car catering for a niche within a niche looks weak. In Italy, where the Panda 4x4 has been a greater success - 15,000 units so far this year and a 3mth waiting list – the funkily clothed Panda Cross is designed to extend the 4x4’s appeal to a broader, and principally younger, clientele. Under the skin the mechanicals are pure Panda 4x4: independent suspension all round and a central viscous coupling to divert drive front to rear. The Cross version hikes the ride height by a further 12mm and adds locking differentials that help to improve traction in particularly difficult situations. Power is supplied by Fiat’s excellent 1.3-litre Multijet diesel. The exterior changes - body mouldings to widen the wheel arches, new light units and added underfloor protection - successfully add a playful, street-tough look. Unsurprisingly, on the road the Cross performs very similarly to the standard 4x4, except that the boosted ride height introduces more understeer and gives a driving position not dissimilar to piloting a barstool. Off-road the Cross is remarkably effective, its light weight and compact dimensions giving agility and traction that at times can embarrass larger off-roaders. We can see Cross selling well in Italy where the Fiat brand is in favour and its funky looks and crossover credentials should appeal. Back in the UK, the mini SUV’s different looks may be enough to persuade buyers who might not have previously considered a Panda. If you think so, then we recommend you let Fiat know, otherwise the Cross will remain a foreign sight. Jamie Corstorphine

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