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Fiat's new budget hatch here

2005-09-01 07:12

Wilmer Muller

The Panda 4x2 is joining the 4x4 derivative, which was launched earlier this year. However, the latest addition to the Panda family has a price tag of R95 900, making this model quite a serious competitor in the small car segment.

And you get a lot of car for your money as the Panda comes standard with features such as dual airbags, ABS brakes with EBD, air-conditioning, electric front windows and an audio system with a CD-player.

But the car's funky looks are priceless and it shares its design DNA with that of its 4x4 sibling. This supermini has an MPV look, but thanks to its tall appearance it looks quite muscular too.

Furthermore you can get the Panda in a range of eye-catching colours while buyers can choose from blue or yellow cloth trim for the interior.

Easy cruiser

Under the bonnet you will find a 1.2-litre 8-valve engine developing 44 kW at 5000 r/min while torque is 102 Nm at 2 500 r/min.

Yes, the Panda is now power cruiser but is also not meant to be one. However, the small engine does a great job of propelling the Panda forward and it doesn't feel weak at all.

It does manage to take the Panda to a top speed of about 155 km/h and it will get you from 0-100 km/h in 14 seconds. An attractive feature is its claimed fuel consumption which is 5.6 litres per 100 km over a combined cycle.

This little hatchback keeps its road posture with ease thanks to an independent MacPherson layout at front with a torsion bar connected to the shock absorber.

The rear configuration is an interconnected wheel (semi-independent) suspension with a torsion beam, a solution already adopted on higher category cars.

The Panda will make a great city runabout and its small dimensions ads to its overall appeal. The car is only 3.54m long and 1.58m wide, but thanks to its height 1.54m and 2.3m wheelbase its interior space is quite impressive for such a small vehicle.

It is easy to manoeuvre in and around town while the Panda appears quite nimble too.

Power steering

City driving and parking is enhanced by the Panda's Dualdrive power-assisted steering. This system comes with two operating modes and uses the power generated by an electric motor instead of power from a hydraulic pump driven directly by the engine.

The steering response of the car's electric steering system is, however, proportional to car speed: the higher the speed, the lower the assistance and the stiffer the wheel response to ensure greater driving precision.

The system adopted by the new Fiat model offers a choice of two different setting programmes. The first ensures maximum empathy between driver and car and is ideal for mixed out-of-town routes.

The 'City' mode lightens the steering to minimise effort and is therefore ideal for driving around town and parking manoeuvres.

If you set off down the motorway with the device in this position: to ensure customers maximum safety in all cases, both programmes offer the same degree of power assistance over 35 km/h and therefore ensure a steering wheel response suited to high speed.


With the new Panda 4x2, Fiat Auto SA shows that it is serious about being a major player in the affordable small car segment.

For under R100k you get a car with distinctive and modern styling, which comes with a host of comfort and safety features. Furthermore the Panda appears solid and its overall ride is impressive too.

The Panda is a small car in which you would like to be seen in and it will do the Fiat brand proud. This is also a model which could lure new buyers too Fiat and its funky appeal will definitely be a great selling point.

Fiat offers Panda owners a 24-month manufacturer warranty, unlimited mileage and an additional 12-month dealer extended warranty or up to 100 000km in total, three years on paintwork and five years on rust anti-perforation.

The new models are covered by the AA Fleetcare roadside assistance for 12 months.


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