MILAN, Italy - Following its debut at the 2014 Geneva auto show in March, Fiat's new off-road model will make its European debut in September 2014. The new Panda Cross is a 4x4 variant of the automaker’s popular SUV and is reportedly a true off-road vehicle at a “competitive price” compared to a larger full-fledged 4x4 vehicle. The Panda Cross measures 3.7m long, 1.6m wide and 1.66m tall. Boot space is rated at 225-litres.It’s equipped with all-wheel drive, electronic stability control and an electronic-locking differential (ELD) enabling it to “tackle any type of terrain” courtesy of three modes - auto, off-road and hill descent. NEW DESIGNAt the front, it has new bumper, silver skid plate, new foglights and LEDs built into the skid plate. At the sides, it has pronounced wheel arches, mouldings with "Cross" badging and 15" alloys with a five-spoke design and metallic finish. At the rear it has a new bumper with underbody protection and a chromed exhaust.THREE DRIVING MODES In Auto, torque is distributed between the front and rear axles depending on the road surfaces. On normal terrain, the Panda Cross uses front-wheel drive with 98% of the torque applied to the front wheels. When the ground becomes slippery or rough, the system automatically distributes torque to the rear wheels. In Off-road mode, its ELD and all-wheel drive is engaged up to 50km/h. In terms of suspension, it uses an independent MacPherson arrangement at the front and an interconnected wheel with torsion-beam layout at the rear. Ground clearance is increased from 16.1cm from the TwinAir and 15.8cm compared to the MultiJet. It’s tyres are 10mm larger. Its approach angle is 24°, exit 34° and ramp angle is 21°. According to Fiat, the Panda Cross may exceed a maximum gradient of 70% and a lateral gradient of 55%. It has steel underbody protection and its intake duct is raised by as much as 73.9cm in the diesel and 71.1cm in the petrol version. POWER Powering the new Panda Cross is a turbo diesel 1.3 MultiJet and the petrol 0.9 TwinAir Turbo both mated to a six-speed gearbox and equipped with stop/start. The two-cylinder 0.9 TwinAir Turbo is capable of 66kW and 145Nm. In addition, its ECO function can limit torque to 100Nm. Fuel consumption is rated at of 4.9-litres/100km with emissions of 114g/km. The 1.3 MultiJet II turbodiesel is capable of 59kW/190Nm. Fuel consumption is rated at 4.7-litres/100km with emissions of 125g/km of CO2. Its gearbox has a short first gear, useful in tackling more difficult terrain, as it allows the vehicle to proceed at a very low speed with the engine idling.Inside, it has natural fabrics with brown eco-leather. The front seats have Cross branding on the backrests. The dashboard sports a new copper colour with a silver finish also used for the central console.LOADS OF KIT Standard equipment includes auto climate control, CD/MP3 radio (with Blue&MeTM system), steering wheel controls, 15" alloys, heatable side-mirrors, central locking, rear head restraints, height-adjustable steering wheel, fog lights, leather steering wheel and gear knob, height-adjustable driver's seat and 'all seasons' 185/65R15 M+S tyres. Optional kit includes heated windscreen, tinted windows and city brake control system - automatically applies brakes (at speeds from 5 - 30km/h to avoid collision or mitigate damage.Unfortunately Fiat South Africa do not have plans to offer the new model locally.