Forget whatever you think about Fiat's Panda! It just got devilish with the introduction of the 100hp model, with the "100hp" of course, referring to the car's power output, which is a lively 74kW.
And one has to admire Fiat for breathing new life into the Panda as the 100hp model could change perceptions of the Panda.
In general, the Panda is a boxy and practical vehicle, and some might even perceive it as bland. But with the launch of the Panda 100hp people will actually take notice of this little number.
It looks the hot hatch part too.
In true sporty fashion it comes with a rear spoiler, chromed exhaust pipe finisher, lowered suspension for a beefy look, special bumpers with a honey-comb grille, colour-coded door handles and front foglamps.
There are also flashy 15-inch alloys shod with 195/45-15 tyres that provide chewing-gum grip, while 'privacy' (darkened) glass for the rear windows adds to the sleek look.
On the inside there is a leather steering wheel and gear knob and sports seats with special trim.
In terms of equipment, the 100hp gets split rear seats, a full on-board computer, auto-locking door function, remote steering wheel controls for the integrated stereo with MP3 and a black facia with chrome details.
Safety features include ABS, EBD and front and side airbags.
Fun to drive
The 100hp is fitted with Fiat's new 1.4-litre 16-valve power unit that develops a power output of 74 kW (100bhp) at 6 000 r/min and maximum torque of 131 Nm at 4 250 r/min. The engine is mated to a 6-speed gearbox and a "sport" button adds extra spice.
The accelerator response is keen and if you press the "Sport" button it sharpens the throttle response and reduces assistance in the electric power steering.
Top speed is 185 km/h and Fiats says the 100hp will go from 0 to 100 km/h in just 9.5 seconds.
But the 100hp surprises you with how much fun it is to drive. The engine offers an even spread of torque right up to 7 000 r/min and one is surprised with how different this model feels from the standard Panda.
The 100hp is a car with pace and it feels the sporty part, with an intoxicating purr coming from the engine. You can drive the Panda fast too without it feeling unsettled. Also, keep in mind that the Panda weighs less than a tonne, which adds to souped-up feeling.
The Panda 100 HP colour range is made up of five colours: red, black, white, blue and grey (the last two are new).
A special 'Pandemonia' pack is available too which include chrome side stickers (red if the body is white), red brake callipers, door mirrors and 15? alloys with silver treatment, sporty pedals and special interior mats.
Panda 1.1 Active
Fiat has as also expanded the Panda range with a new entry-level model with pricing from below R90 000.
The new 1.1 Active comes with Fiat's 4 cylinder in-line unit from the Fire family. It develops a power output of 40 kW at 5000 r/min while the torque rises to a maximum value of 88 Nm at 2750 r/min. It's mated to a five-speed manual box.
Unlike the other Pandas, the Active comes with black bumpers (colour-coded ones as an extra cost option). On the inside the 1.1 forgoes a rev counter and air conditioning, however, you can add the latter at a cost of R6 000.
Standard features include:
Dual-mode power steering with City function
Dual front airbags
Heated rear window with window wiper
Height-adjustable steering column
Front electric windows
Key-operated central locking
Panda 1.1 Active: R89 900
Panda 100hp: R124 900