Fiat Panda hatchback
Price £9,510 - £15,110
- Funky interior design
- Great to drive in town
- Low purchase and running costs
- Could be better equipped
- Not great on the motorway
- Only four-star Euro NCAP safety score
At a glance
“The Fiat Panda is an upbeat city car with a practical interior and an economical range of petrol and diesel engines.”
The Fiat Panda is a more practical alternative to its dinky Fiat 500 sibling. The latest model was launched back in 2012, and its age is beginning to show in a city car class that contains newer or more recently updated competitors.
Buyers are spoilt for choice in this sector of the market, with the SEAT Mii, Skoda Citigo, Volkswagen up!, Peugeot 108, Hyundai i10, Toyota Aygo, Citroen C1, Renault Twingo and Kia Picanto all competent packages. Fiat hopes the Panda's mix of practicality, space, low running costs, value-for-money and charm prove attractive enough to tempt some people away from the competition.
The engine range consists of three options, two of which are petrol and the other a diesel. The cheapest engine to buy is the 1.2-litre petrol, which is fairly economical but rather gutless – spend a bit more on the newer 0.9-litre two-cylinder TwinAir petrol engine and you get more punch and better economy.
Buyers envisaging taking the car on the motorway regularly will be better off with the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel engine. It has more pulling power for overtaking and keeping up with traffic than the petrol engines, and returns the best economy in the range with an official figure of 72.4mpg.
Around town, the Fiat Panda is easy to manoeuvre thanks to its light steering, and a soft suspension setup means potholes and uneven roads don’t jar occupants too much. The car's boxy shape is good for headroom and practicality generally but it does mean the Panda is quite susceptible to getting blown around on roads exposed to crosswinds. City cars like the up! and the i10 sit more squat on the road by comparison and their lower sides make them feel more stable in this scenario.
The Panda's high roofline does mean visibility is excellent and there's plenty of headroom for such a small car. Though the rear seats can be moved forwards and backwards, the back can feel cramped, particularly if you try to fit in three adults. The sliding seats do have the benefit of being able to create more bootspace if it's required, but you do have to pay extra for split-folding rear seats (around £300).
There's a host of Panda trim levels, ranging from basic Pop to 4x4. In addition, there's the high-spec Panda Cross. We review it and the 4x4 elsewhere. However there's no real point spending too much money on a Panda, because the model depreciates quite quickly.
For this reason, our favourite trim is sensible, value-for-money Easy: one up from Pop. It has modern conveniences such as air-conditioning, central locking and a height-adjustable driver's seat, as well as eye-catching details such as roof rails.
The Panda has a good list of safety equipment, including traction control, anti-lock brakes and tyre-pressure monitoring. Euro NCAP awarded the model four out of five stars for crash safety. It's a mixed picture for reliability, with owners reporting some niggling issues. However, it's a relatively simple car that's very well tried and tested, so we don’t think there's any serious cause for concern.
With good fuel economy and annual road tax of £30 or less, the Fiat Panda is a very cheap car to buy and run
The Fiat Panda has a range of petrol and diesel engines that make it a great performer around town, but it’s less impressive on the motorway
Tall, boxy body gives Fiat Panda occupants great visibility and lots of space
The Fiat Panda is impressively spacious for such a small car, but you need to add some options to maximise its practicality
A simple car like the Fiat Panda should be reliable, but its four-star Euro NCAP safety rating is slightly concerning