Inside, the emphasis is on stylish practicality. Fiat has redesigned the dashboard of the Panda to improve the layout and ease of use, and the fascia design is both appealing and extremely practical. Designers make great play of providing 14 different compartments for gadgets big and small. Visibility is spectacular and the controls/dials are simple to operate.

Fiat even claims a dual role for several items in the cabin. The handbrake, for example, is said to double up as a “hand rest” when it is down. We’re not really sure what this means, but it works well as a handbrake and nothing else.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
I love the softly rounded edges to the square dials. It's a simple design touch that really lifts the Fiat's cabin

Order the Panda in one of the more interesting cabin colourways and you have a pretty agreeable environment in which to travel. 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.

It’s a shame that the centre console carrying the handily high-mounted gearlever robs you of inboard knee room in the otherwise accommodating cockpit. The steering wheel is of a slightly odd squared-off design, but this doesn’t have an impact on its control.

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The rear accommodation is much improved over the old Fiat Panda’s. Despite the identical wheelbase, there’s more leg and knee space and headroom is still as decent as it always was, thanks to the high roof.

The rear seat splits (either 50:50 or 60:40) and slides to allow flexible space and seating arrangements, and the front passenger seat backrest can be folded to form a table. Boot space is increased from the old Panda’s modest 206 litres to a much more usable 260. It’s a nice square shape, too.

As for the trim levels, there are three key ones to choose from - Pop, Easy and Lounge. The entry-level model comes with electric front windows, a height adjustable steering and hill hold assist, while upgrading to the Easy model adds remote central locking, air conditioning and roof rails. The range-topping Lounge trim gives the Panda 15in alloy wheels, front fog lights, a six-speaker sound system and Fiat's Uconnect infotainment system complete with USB and Bluetooth connectivity.

For those opting for the more rugged Panda 4x4 or the tougher Panda Cross, fear not, these both come with their own trim specification, with the former including, 15in alloys, electrically adjustable and heated wing mirrors, and a height adjustable driver's seat. The latter includes swish silver roof bars, climate control, LED day-running-lights, all-wheel drive and three driving modes, and mud and snow tyres.

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