Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fire up the.... Fiat Panda

IF FIAT'S 500 is Kylie Minogue then the Panda is Dannii. Attractive for all sorts of reasons but sadly overshadowed by a more famous sibling.

Which is a shame, because Fiat's funky little city car has always been a big hit in its own right. It might not have the cute retro charm of the 500, but the Panda, a former European Car of the Year, has always held its own because it's roomier, just as much fun to drive and - crucially - cheaper.

It's much the same story with this new model, which is a little curvier and a little weightier than the outgoing version, but otherwise it's a case of meet the new boss, same as the old boss. It's got the same high rise stance - which is why it's roomier inside than the 500 - and styling that's evolutionary rather than revolutionary, but stay with me a little longer before you reach for that 500 brochure.

With the 1.2, eight valve engine in the one I tested offering up just 69bhp it's emphatically not a fast car - worry not, other powerplants are available - but I love is not the power, but the way it uses what it's got to its advantage. It's light on its toes, easy to drive and always feels a bit frantic - but that's a good thing. It is a loveable little car in the finest Italian tradition, being a whole lot of fun in a simple, unpretentious sort of way.

But while the interior seems a little cheaper in the quality of its materials than say, VW's new Up, it's in here that the Panda scores its biggest trump card over the 500 - what you lose in looks you gain in room, and because it's a five door it's also far easier for your friends to get in and out of.

It's not as polished as the Up but think about this way; if you reckon you'd find a holiday in Milan a little bit more memorable than one in Berlin, than go for the Panda because its sense of mischief will prevail over the Veedub's sturdiness.

Keep it to yourself - given the choice of a 500 and a Panda, I'd go for the latter.

No comments:

Post a Comment