The last couple of cars I have had a first look at were, shall we say a tad exotic. They were not exactly run of the mill everyday vehicular transport for the masses. So this time around I thought I’d tell you about the new Fiat Panda instead! The last Panda was a massive success for Fiat; single-handedly rescuing Fiat from building awful stuff like Stilo’s, that broke all the time, and taking them back to their roots of building simple honest fun little cars.
The third generation of the Panda will hit the streets early in 2012 and from the pictures it is still recognisably a Panda, albeit slightly more bloated than the last one. It’s lost its angular edges, now sporting a rounder, chubby, smiling face. This theme continues along the car with big chunky wings and doors. However Fiat still manages to encompass those trademark flared Panda wheel arches. Round the back the Panda is still very flat, but now embraces Fiat’s design identity of a large black bump strip. This unfortunately makes the Panda look a bit like one of Fiat’s Doblo vans from behind. Never the less the car as a whole looks like it’s ready for the rough and tumble of the urban jungle if you will.
The bigger outside dimensions also mean that the Panda has grown on the inside too; however, this also has something to do with the clever packaging and design of the interior. The new car features incredibly skinny seat backs… how very interesting you might think, but they allow plenty of leg room for 3 back seat passengers. It’s very dull yet it’s very clever things like this that make the Panda so ingenious. For instance have you ever wanted to carry a long plank of wood but find your normal car is a bit too short? Not to worry, with the Panda you can fold the front passenger seat flat to carry one. Either that or use the back of the seat as a make shift table. Keeping on the interior note the new Panda will feature plenty of tech. Which is a far cry from the original panda, I would know, my dad owned one. The new one is the equivalent of bringing an ipad to a medieval jousting event. Tech includes, electric everything, power steering that can be switched to be uber light for city driving. It also has stop/start and auto emergency brakes that come on at anything up to 20mph if you’re about to hit a tree. The Panda can also be spec’d with a big panoramic sunroof if you so wish.
Engine wise, the new Panda is available with Fiat’s excellently frugal Twinair two cylinder petrol engines, with either 64bhp or 84bhp in turbo’d form. It is also available with a 1.2 litre petrol (68bhp) and a 1.3 multijet diesel (74bhp), still both good in their own right.
To conclude then, the new Panda is bigger, rounder and cleverer than the old one. It also happens to be a million miles away from the 80’s original in terms of simplicity. However, times have moved on and it seems as if the Panda will continue to solidify Fiat’s growing reputation for funky, practical and frugal little cars. It’s basically a Fiat 500 for slightly less image conscious and slightly more practical people.