Fiat Unveils New Eco Panda
Fiat’s rugged new Panda Cross unveiled
Following its initial unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show in March, Fiat has finally launched its rugged new four-wheel drive supermini. Available with a choice of one petrol and one diesel engine, the new Panda Cross will cost from £15,945.
Based on the impressive Panda 4x4, the Panda Cross gets even more chunkier styling that includes larger bumpers, improved off-roading ability provided by the oversized tyres and underbody protection to help it ward off impacts from rocks and loose stones as you try its increased ground clearance. Overall it gives the Panda Cross a distinctly tougher look to your average small car.
A tiny 900cc TwinAir turbocharged petrol engine is available, and it is the same engine that is fitted to the Panda and Fiat 500. Therefore expect it to be both smooth and nippy both in town and on the motorway. For those looking for a mix of performance coupled to low running costs, the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel engine is likely to be your preferred choice. It can deliver as much as 60mpg.
Both are coupled to a very clever four-wheel drive system. On normal roads and in fair weather, 98% of the power is delivered to the front wheels to enhance fuel economy. However, on the rough stuff, Fiat’s ‘Torque-on-Demand’ system controls the power sent to the wheels depending on the driving conditions. Three modes are available – normal, off-road and hill descent. Electronic stability control and hill descent control provide additional support. As the name implies, the hill descent system automatically controls the accelerator and brakes to help you reach the bottom of steep hills as safely as possible.
Although, like most off-roaders, it is likely to spend most of its time in the urban jungle, these systems help make it surprisingly capable off the beaten track, despite its tiny dimensions.
Inside is a copper-coloured dash and special upholstery. Climate control, electric door mirrors and height adjustable seats are all fitted as standard whilst the steering wheel and gear lever are enhanced by leather trim.
The Fiat Panda Cross will be officially on sale in the UK in the autumn. The 900cc TwinAir turbocharged petrol will cost from £15,945 whilst the 1.3-litre diesel will start from £16,945. For comparative purposes, the standard Panda 4x4 currently starts from £14,145.
ANDREW MERRITT-MORLING FCMI
Associate Member of the Guild of Motoring Writers