Fiat Panda 2020 - A Multi-functional City Car
The Fiat Panda is a large, spacious and practical city car without being too cumbersome around town. It is easy to drive, and the steering is light enough to make parking hassle-free. It is a welcome change from the standard city car which at times can be a little limited on space and practicality, especially if you have more than a few bags of shopping.
The Fiat Panda first went on sale in the UK way back in 1981, making it nearly 40 years old. Its sales figures remain as impressive as they ever have. In fact, it has sold on average more than 200,000 units and is approaching total sales of over 7.5 million globally, since the first one rolled off the production line. The Panda is Fiat's best-selling car of all-time, with the Fiat 500 slowly catching up.
With the first generation hitting the UK in 1981 and remaining popular through the years, it wasn't until 2003 that Fiat brought out the next instalment. Again, this proved to be a huge success, so much so that combined sales of the 1st and 2nd generation Panda's exceeded 6million units worldwide. In 2011, Fiat released the latest third generation model of the Panda, along with several new variation models such as the Panda Trekking, Panda 4x4 and Panda Cross.
Fiat's decision to include so many variations of the Panda is a good idea on paper, as it helps them to cover more of the market. It enables them to offer the consumer a more extensive selection, all at affordable prices, while still maintaining a high level of standard equipment across each model. There are five different models of the Fiat Panda in the current line-up. The cheapest is the standard Panda, followed by the Panda CityCross, then the Panda 4x4 and finally the most expensive Panda Cross with a starting price of £16,530.
I will just be looking at the standard Fiat Panda and will cover other variations in later reviews during 2020. I will compare each one against each other to judge just how different and necessary they are. The base model Fiat Panda is available in a choice of three trim levels, Pop, Easy and Lounge.
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Engines, Power and Performance
The standard Fiat Panda is only available with a 1.2-litre 8V petrol engine, which develops 69hp and 102Nm of torque. Although not mightily impressive on paper, when you are casually driving around town, it has more than an adequate amount of power to scuttle about with. The engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission and come with front-wheel-drive. It will take 14.8secs to get from 0-62mph and will eventually get to a top speed of 102mph.
The other engine, available across the Panda range, is a more powerful petrol unit. The other petrol offering is a 0.9-litre TwinAir turbocharged unit developing 85hp and 145Nm of torque. It will hit 0-62mph in 12secs and go on to a top speed of 104mph. It comes with a six-speed manual transmission and four-wheel-drive system.
There's currently no diesel, hybrid or all-electric option available. However, this could change in the near future as hybrid technology along with electric cars are becoming increasingly popular to help reduce emissions.
For me, the 0.9-litre TwinAir engine is the best option, so I would choose a Panda with this engine available. Therefore I would go for the Special Edition Panda Waze. The engine is smooth and quiet around town and only gets shouty when you take it onto more open roads. However, if you find a few twisty, tight country lanes, you can have fun chucking it around corners, even for a car with such a limited power engine. It is very economical, with CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km, so better than the 1.2-litre petrol alternative.
Interior Quality and Technology
Climbing inside the Fiat Panda, you notice a pleasant improvement in build quality and style over its predecessor. The new Panda now has a modern, chic and warm interior feel much better than before, making it more of a pleasure to sit inside and enjoy your journey. For a cheap city car, the quality of materials and fitting in the Panda means it is certainly punching above its weight. This is a good thing as the standard equipment list is a little disappointing in comparison to several of its rivals, like the Volkswagen Up and Hyundai i10.
In the entry-level Pop trim, you get; radio and CD player, electric front windows, a USB to charge your smartphone and an engine stop/start function and very little else. Opt for the next trim level up Easy, and you get; air-con and longitudinal roof bars and remote central locking. If you can afford to go for the top trim level Lounge, then you get; Bluetooth radio with Fiat's Uconnect infotainment system ( this supports smartphone technology through the Uconnect app), a smartphone cradle, alloy wheels and electronically adjustable door mirrors.
Other Panda models get higher levels of standard equipment, but none are available with a touchscreen system, even as an optional extra. There are however quite a few optional extra packs and features available at a reasonable price to allow you to customise your car to your requirements.
Space, Practicality and Safety
The Panda is one of the more spacious small city cars on the market today. Driver and passenger get plenty of legroom and headroom, even those over 6ft tall should have nothing to moan about. In the back, space is better than in previous models, and there is a decent amount of leg and knee space. There is a good amount of headroom, thanks to the high roof line of the Panda's design. If you want the ability to have three passengers on the back seat, you will have to pay an additional fee for an extra (5th) seat belt to be fitted.
There are a variety of small cubbies throughout the cabin, including door pockets and glovebox. The boot has increased in size over its predecessor and now has a capacity of 225-litres which will rise to 260-litres if you slide the rear bench seat forward. If you fold the rear seats down completely, then capacity climbs to an impressive 870-litres.
The Fiat Panda was Euro NCAP safety tested in 2018 and became only the second car in history to ever score a 0-star rating. The Panda achieved such poor results across all of the testing categories, highlighted by a score of just 16% for its ability to protect children in the rear seats. To put this into perspective, the average score across all cars tested for this category was 79%. On the back of these shock results, Fiat has worked hard to increase the safety of the Panda range and included more safety features as standard along with several additional safety packs. Hopefully, with further attention to safety and implementing the latest technologies, the Panda will achieve a better safety score when it is next Euro NCAP safety tested.
Overall the Fiat Panda is a good little city car with excellent space, practicality and functionality at an affordable price. It is a very versatile car with varying styling and trim options available, along with a better quality interior than previously found in any of the previous Panda models. The market is highly competitive in the small city car race, but the Panda should still be able to compete.