A Fiat Panda 4x4... up Mount Etna

We try to dig the car further up, but every time the 4x4 engages to try to lift the car higher, the lack of grip and meaningful torque from low enough in the rev range means that the Panda is sucked to a dead stop. Well, the torque issue and the clutch smoke pouring out of the bonnet after one particularly vigorous effort. After what seems like an age, we dig the Panda out of its resting place and happily canter off back down Mount Etna with blessed relief.

There's a sense of pregnancy about Etna, of bloat and indigestion, and it's making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. But after a bit, I decide that I'm imagining it, and we stop to take a final few pictures. I stare back up the steep, gravelly slopes and realise that the Panda 4x4, this little hatchback, has taken us further than any of the big, expensive SUVs could have possibly hoped. Up a living volcano. It may be a small car, but it has a huge heart.