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Hey, look! It’s the new version of one of James May’s favourite cars!

Though the 2012 Fiat Panda’s got some competition in the hitherto unnamed ruthlessly-practical-and-all-the-more-charming-for-it segment. Namely, the Volkswagen Up.

See more pics of the 2012 Fiat Panda here 

It makes a chunkier, more versatile-looking first impression than the dub, though - it’s 11cm longer (3650mm in total), has five doors (the launch-spec Up’s a three-door) and, according to Fiat, there’s room enough for five actual humans. It’s also got the biggest boot in its class.

Unlike VW, Fiat went a bit retro inside. Doffing its cap to the original eighties version, there’s a cloth-covered dashboard with a great big bin for your stuff.

Underneath, the oily bits are pretty familiar. Suspension comprises of MacPherson struts up front and torsion beam astern. Engine-wise, you can chose between the TwinAir two-cylinder petrol in either 64bhp 0.9 Aspirated TwinAir form and 84bhp 0.9 TwinAir Turbo guise. More conventional 68bhp 1.2 four-cylinder petrols and 74bhp 1.3-litre diesels are also on the menu.

Think James’ll like it, TopGear.commers? Or will he prefer the Up?

Now watch James studying the contents of his Panda’s boot

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