Thursday, 26 January 2012

Fiat Panda 4x4

A 4x4 cross city slicker creating a stir.

If anyone remembers the old 4-wheel drive Fiat Panda of the eighties, i'm fairly certain it wouldn't conjure up memories of prestige and timeless design. It was, a box. I remember my parents owning one when I was fairly young, i'm pretty sure even then, in my innocence of youth, I knew it was ugly. I can't even bring myself to post a picture on here, i'm sure a quick Google search will bring it up, lets hope eventually all knowledge and documentation of it gets lost to the confides of history. However, we are here to talk about the new Fiat Panda 4x4, and in 20 years time hopefully not look back in too much disgrace.

We should start by assessing the Panda as a competitor to other 4x4's, and lets face there are alot, good ones too, so Fiat have their work cut out. In a show of strength to show off the 4x4 capabilities of the new Panda, Fiat (read Marketing stunt) drove one to a mountaineering base camp at Mount Everest, 5,200 metres above sea level with no proper roads. So how did the locking differentials and low-range transfer box perform? Well, if it had any of these i'm sure i'd be able to tell you. The point i'm getting at is that really the new Fiat Panda 4x4 isn't really a true SUV, more of a off-roader cross city slicker, so we should probably review it as one. We should also note that, this Panda is one of the cheapest 4X4's on the market, half and more of the price of its current competitors, so in that sense, its created a niche for itself to fill, so it looks set to fly off the shelf.

The carbon copy interior of the new Fiat Panda 4x4.
The off road performance itself is good, powered by Fiat's eight-valve, 1.2-litre, 60bhp petrol engine, backed up by suspension that's raised by 50mm all-round, with the rear getting a new independent set-up. There are also specially designed tyres and additional underbody protection. To be honest, unless any of you are planning on taking this further than 5,200 metre Everest base camp - you'll be in good hands.

Internally, the new model is a carbon copy of the standard Panda, well configured, spacious and comfortable offering more than you would expect at this price range. The car comes complete with ABS and EBD, remote central locking, driver and passenger airbags, a CD player and electric front windows. Standard alloy wheels, black roofbars and foglights. All in all a good package, well priced, feature packed and multiple uses. I can see these flying out of the showroom when they arrive here in the UK in April.

Check out your local new car dealer now to book a test drive and see what you think.


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