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Car Review

Fiat Panda review

£10,030 - £16,530
610
Published: 05 Jul 2022
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Buying

What should I be paying?

There are four versions of the Panda to choose from – City Life is the entry model, followed by City Cross, Red and Garmin. Life is your bog standard Panda – no phone integration (but you do get DAB), manually adjustable door mirrors and rear windows (this is across the whole range, to be fair), aircon and a delightful list price of £14,085. There’s only the 1.0-litre mild hybrid petrol option available, which pumps out a heady 69bhp. That makes the City Life good for a 13.9secs 0–62mph run, a 102mph top speed, 111g/km CO2 emissions and 57.6mpg.

The City Cross enjoys the same simplicity as the Life model, but throws in a 4x4 system and some chunky styling to let everyone know what you’re packing. You do also get a couple of extra side airbags thrown in, but the set-up does marginally throw off your performance (it’s 0.8secs slower to 62mph, emits 2g/km more CO2 and is 1.1mpg less efficient than the entry car). The City Cross will cost you from £15,485 before you start to consider colour options and the like. 

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The Red model (£700 more than the Cross) is based on the Cross, but adds a few splashes of Red trim and funnels some of your cash to a US non-profit set up by Bono to fight Aids, and more recently combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fiat’s Red cars also come with hand sanitiser and are treated with a special biocide that provides long-term protection from nasty little germs, so that’s nice. You do also get a seven-inch touchscreen with phone integration and auto climate control. Actually painting the car red is a £550 option though. 

The top level Garmin trim is a slightly more eye watering £17,485, but Fiat does pep the car up with a fancier Garmin-inspired interior, some outside trim highlights (if you’re into orange tow hooks), a heated windscreen and heated seats. If you’re going to be doing more serious off-roading then it has a locking rear differential and hill descent control, too. The Garmin does come with special 15in wheels, but they'll look like you’ve bought them on eBay. The car’s party piece is that Fiat throws in a smartwatch from the firm that’s lent its name to the car. 

Will the Panda be cheap to run?

If you’re paying cash then the cheaper City Cross is the car to go for, but if you’re looking at a monthly lease then it basically makes no odds, the entire range falling in the £320–£355 band. Strangely the Garmin is the cheapest of the 4x4 cars at £330 a month. 

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It’s a reasonably economical car, although given how much the engine needs wringing out to keep up with other traffic you’ll find it tough to meet the official fuel consumption figures. Fiat likes to make a big deal of the hybrid system on the Panda, but it’s nothing more than a glorified start/stop system. If running costs are important and the off-road capabilities aren’t high on your priority list then you’re probably better off looking elsewhere.

What about the competition?

If you’re looking at the city car competition, you could do a lot worse than something like a 5dr Volkswagen Up at £14,350 (£175 a month), or the equally grown-up Hyundai i10 at £13,430 (£210 a month). Both are entirely capable and flexible around town. But if you’re comparing off-road options, then there’s nothing remotely comparable to the Panda Garmin’s mountain goat skills for a long way until you reach the likes of the Toyota Hilux, Vauxhall Combo Cargo 4x4 or a Land Rover Defender. Perhaps the Suzuki Jimny van is the nearest competitor at £17k plus VAT, although it only has two seats.

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