What is it?
This is the turbodiesel version of Fiat’s latest Panda, a rare breed in the budget city hatchback class. The engine in question is the 1.3 Multijet II diesel that’s much-improved over the original version, and it rides in a Panda that at its core shares hardware with the second-generation model (which is likely to remain on sale for a while after the new version makes the showroom) but has nevertheless been very substantially reworked. So although its wheelbase remains the same it has grown, to provide a bigger boot and more interior space.
The new body delivers better crash performance and it’s more aerodynamic, too. 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. This will include a collision mitigation system that emergency-brakes the car from below 19mph, a dashtop-mounted TomTom Live sat nav, a glass sunroof, heated windscreen and climate control. The Multijet also comes with standard-fit stop-start, to yield a 104g/km CO2 figure and combined consumption of 72.4mpg.
What’s it like?
There’s an aura of sophistication to this cabin that’s rare in budget cars of this class, and while hard-feel plastics prevail, order the Panda in the right colours and you definitely won’t feel that you’re travelling economy. Excellent visibility, stylish seat trim and a diesel that’s reasonably subdued at idle reinforce this impression, too.