From £8,8966
Loveable Fiat Panda is now available with a mild-hybrid powertrain. We head to Turin to see how it fares
Simon Davis
5 February 2020

What is it?

An electrified version of the Fiat Panda Cross: the boxy, loveable, small Italian hatchback that seems set on trying to convince anyone who claps eyes on it that it really is a proper, mud-plugging SUV.

Only it isn’t really. It might have plenty of black plastic cladding and a slightly raised ride height, but beneath it lies a front-driven, slightly puffed up city car. But we knew that already. Of greater importance is the fact that this new Panda Mild Hybrid represents the first stage of Fiat’s quest to redefine itself as a maker of small, electrified city cars. 

Of course, being a mild hybrid it does seem to be more of a tentative toe-dip than a bonafide head-on dive into the waters of Lake Electrification. But you’ve got to start somewhere, and in any case it’ll soon be followed up by the fully-electric 500e that’s expected to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in a few months time. So it’s not like Fiat is lacking intent on this front.

The Panda Mild Hybrid is being launched alongside the new 500 Mild Hybrid, and makes use of the same 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and 12v belt-integrated starter generator as its more diminutive sibling. This harvests kinetic energy during braking and deceleration, which is stored in a 11Ah lithium battery. This enables the engine to shut down to conserve fuel when coasting or at a standstill, and can also be used to assist acceleration. All up, the Panda Mild Hybrid makes a relatively humble 69bhp and 68lb ft.

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What's it like?

In more sedate town driving the Panda is easy enough to operate, with the electric architecture providing a faintly discernible level of additional poke to help get you moving smoothly.

Past this point though, the Panda’s power deficit becomes a bit more conspicuous. There’s a need to really keep your foot in to get the car up to speed, so much so that you often find yourself driving about for extended periods with the accelerator completely flattened. Doing so is quite fun - in part because the Panda’s engine seems up for a thrashing - but also because you’ll never really be in any great danger of grossly exceeding the speed limit. 

That said, driving in such a manner likely won’t do your fuel consumption any favours. We saw a fuel consumption figure of about 35mpg at the conclusion of our time with the car - some way off its 49.6mpg WLTP rating.

Its tall sides, raised ride height and higher centre of gravity are apparent through corners, too. It bounces its way over undulating road surfaces, and even if you tip the Panda into a bend at relatively sedate speeds it responds with fairly a significant amount of body roll. Meanwhile, its tyres seem to struggle to maintain their purchase even on dry roads so that its chassis will push into understeer with relatively little provocation. The stability systems then promptly step in to shut things down with a fairly heavy hand. Not that you’ll be able to feel any of this through the wheel, mind, as the Panda’s steering is completely mute and not quite as intuitive as you might like. 

Still, even with the slightly wayward body control and overly-light steering, the Panda is absolutely a fun car to drive. It’s more entertaining than its 500 sibling, largely because its movements are so much more pronounced. 

Its interior might be harder to appreciate, particularly as it’s really starting to look and feel its age. It lacks a good deal of the style appeal that’s inherent to the 500, while its rear seats aren’t exactly that accommodating for adult passengers. With the front seats set for adults of average height, headspace and knee room in the second row are very much in short supply.

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Should I buy one?

Despite the drawbacks, £13,885 for the entry-level Panda Mild Hybrid is incredibly good value. Our Launch Edition model with its exclusive paint scheme pushes this up to a still reasonable £14,385, while the range-topping Trussardi is £14,485.

It might only have a three-star Euro NCAP safety rating, and standard equipment is sparse. But the fact remains, even with its flaws, its bubbling, fizzing personality makes it an incredibly difficult car to dislike. 

Fiat Panda Mild Hybrid Launch Edition

Where Turin, Italy Price £14,385 On sale March 2020 Engine 3 cyls, 999cc, petrol with 12V BSG electric motor Power 69bhp at 6000rpm Torque 68lb ft at 3500rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual Kerb weight 1100kg (est) 0-62mph 14.7sec Top speed 96mph Fuel economy 49.6mpg CO2 WLTP figures tbc Rivals Volkswagen Up, Skoda Citigo

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Comments
6

5 February 2020

"But we knew that already." Oh well done you. But - as a journalist - isn't it your job to impart information? The cross used to be available with a proper 4x4 driveline and off road ability... is it still?  

Smug, unhelpful review.

5 February 2020
What on earth have they done to the front?

5 February 2020

'fuel consumption of 36 mpg' this has to be a joke, VW 1.5 Golf and A3s will easierly do 50mpg+, this Hybrid appears to use more fuel than the pre-hybrid Panda. So the only trick FIAT has pulled off here appears to be mugging the punter!

5 February 2020
xxxx wrote:

'fuel consumption of 36 mpg' this has to be a joke, VW 1.5 Golf and A3s will easierly do 50mpg+, this Hybrid appears to use more fuel than the pre-hybrid Panda. So the only trick FIAT has pulled off here appears to be mugging the punter!

Love to see what a normal person would get as you can guarantee they drove it like they stole it.
Can't see why they can't add the safety kit to improve the rating, after all it's still based on the 500 which gets a better score. Also the up is also now a 3star car iirc because certain safety kit is no longer standard.
These stars should be based on how well it fares in the impact tests with maybe a separate score for available kit/standard kit.
Shame it doesn't appear to have the AWD option.

6 February 2020
xxxx wrote:

'fuel consumption of 36 mpg' this has to be a joke, VW 1.5 Golf and A3s will easierly do 50mpg+, this Hybrid appears to use more fuel than the pre-hybrid Panda. So the only trick FIAT has pulled off here appears to be mugging the punter!

Well, they certainly didn't see YOU on the horizon...so caring are you of all city car buyers to put us off this car, also amazing that you were able to read the whole article and then rehash it albeit error laden. Again, why would anyone buying this type of car, in this price range, compare it to another car two classes larger and at least twice the price...you, because you are an ignorant, immature idiot who plagiarises and laboriously types out what you imagine to be an informed piece. Fool.

5 February 2020

62 pound foot = 90 nm torque - pretty poor.

This is basically the old 2003 Panda but more anemic and generally more sh!t.

I'd seek out a 2003 Panda for 500 quid.  It'd have a better FIRE 4 cyliner engine than this thing and be more pleasant to drive while delivering better real world economy. 

That 2003 is basically the same chassis/type

FIAT have only got themselves to blame for their under-investment.

 

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