First Drives

01 August 2012

Fiat Panda 1.2 driven

Can’t quite afford the Panda with the TwinAir engine? Don’t worry, this is the one you want anyway

Ollie Marraige
Car image

This is a lovely little car. I know everyone harps on about the TwinAir engine, and, yes, it is a rorty little two-cylinder funster, but it ain't economical. They say 23.08kpl. We say knock 5kpl off that. Or more. I did a two-hour journey in one recently and got 17.8kpl, while this naturally aspirated four did 19.5kpl on a similar drive. And the TwinAir costs more.

Too much. You can get a 1.2 for less in base trim and, although this may sound perverse, I preferred having to lean across the cabin to adjust the passenger mirror. Leave the 500 to do the flouncy stuff, the Panda's charm is in its bare essentials - it has an aura of necessity rather than luxury. And the 1.2 is something of a sweetie anyway. It's not super-tuneful and it sure ain't fast, but it picks up revs with surprising eagerness and generally gives the impression of being game for anything.

And because it's not as able as the TwinAir to force the chassis to do anything it doesn't want to do, the handling is somehow cleaner - you never quite get to the wheel-scrabbling stage, nor feel that you're missing out. Good.

The numbers
1242cc, 4cyl, 68bhp, 102Nm, 23.08kpl, 120g/km CO2, 0-100kph in 14.2secs, 164kph, 1015kg

The verdict
Can't quite afford the Panda with the TwinAir engine? Don't worry, this is the one you want anyway

Tags: fiat, panda



We make a trip to the north-eastern end of the country to meet a real Jeep, in one that keeps it real from the current crop