Fiat Panda hatchback

Review

Fiat Panda hatchback

Price  £9,095 - £13,795

Fiat Panda hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Well-designed interior
  • Fun to drive
  • Cheap to buy
Cons
  • Interior feels basic on entry level models
  • Limited rear legroom
  • Engines lack power on motorways

At a glance

The greenest
0.9 TwinAir 85hp Dualogic Lounge 5dr £12,660
The cheapest
1.2 Pop 5dr £9,095
The fastest
0.9 TwinAir 85hp Easy 5dr £11,095
Top of the range
1.3-16v Multijet Trekking 5dr £13,795

"The all-new Panda has grown in size but retains the proven formula of 'simple is best'."

The Fiat Panda is a hatchback that competes with cars such as the Volkswagen up! and Hyundai i10, and is a more practical alternative to Fiat's retro-styled Fiat 500.

Fiat has a long history of building small hatchbacks – with models such as the original Fiat 500 from the ‘50s – and it shows in the Panda's interior, which has lots of practical features despite the car's small dimensions. That means you get plenty of storage areas and a rear seat that can be slid backwards and forwards for more or less boot space. All Pandas also come with five doors for added practicality.

Buyers can choose from a range of petrol and diesel engines, all of which should be cheap to run. Pick of the range is the TwinAir petrol, which combines economy with perky performance.

Models include Pop, Easy, Lounge, and Trekking. Buyers can also choose the Fiat Panda 4x4, which has enough off-road ability to challenge large SUVs costing much more. 

MPG, running costs & CO2

4.4 / 5

Fiat's new TwinAir engines are very impressive

All Fiat Pandas are cheap to run and the basic 1.2-litre petrol may well work out to be the cheapest if you don’t cover many miles. It returns economy of 54.3mpg and CO2 emissions that mean you pay £30 annually. The TwinAir model is quicker, yet also more economical – with 67.3mpg possible and C02 emissions that mean you pay no road tax – making it the pick of the bunch. For ultimate economy, though, the diesel can return up to 72.4mpg.

Right now, Fiat is offering a decent deal on its fixed-rate servicing. It pays the cost up front, while you make interest-free monthly payments.

Interior & comfort

3.2 / 5

Front passengers are well accommodated

It's easy to get comfortable behind the wheel of the Panda and visibility for the driver is excellent, particularly for parking and manoeuvring through tight spaces, thanks to an upright driving position and large windows. The car's suspension also does a much better job than the old Panda's when it comes to dealing with lumps and bumps on the road, meaning the Fiat is comfortable on longer journeys.

The interior is stylish to look at thanks to Fiat's soft-cube design and use of bright colours, and also gets some useful features. The best of those is the city-steering system that, at the touch of a button, makes the steering lighter to make low-speed town driving easier.

Practicality & boot space

3.5 / 5

The interior is very well thought out

While there is plenty of space in the front of the Panda, rear-seat passengers are going to feel a little cramped and there's less room than you get in either the Hyundai i10 or the Volkswagen up!, even though the rear seats can be slid backwards. With the rear seats as far back as they will go, boot space is 225 litres, but go to the other extreme and you get 260 litres – or slightly more than is offered by a Volkswagen up! Fold all the seats down and maximum capacity tops out at 870 litres.

The Panda also has lots of useful storage spaces, including a large one on the dashboard, a decent-sized glovebox, cupholders, a storage area between the front seats, and doorbins. The front passenger seat also folds down to double as a table.

Reliability & safety

3.2 / 5

Based on the Fiat 500 platform

The Fiat Panda did well in our 2014 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, moving up 73 places from the previous year to 70th out of 150 cars, and finishing near mid-table for reliability. It scored well for having low running costs and being easy to drive. Fiat's warranty is starting to look at bit mean, though - it covers the car for three years or 60,000 miles (depending on which comes first), but falls well behind the seven-year warranty you get as standard with a Kia Picanto.

The Panda is also falling behind rivals in terms of safety. The car got only four-stars, instead of five, when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP thanks, largely, to its lack of standard-fit electronic stability control. It does, however, get four airbags and a seatbelt warning buzzer that covers both the front and rear seats.

Engines, drive & performance

3.7 / 5

Nippy and fun to drive around town

The Fiat Panda is good fun to drive thanks to steering that has been sharpened up and suspension that does a good job of resisting body lean in the corners. The Panda is most at home in the city where it feels nippy and easy to drive, especially thanks to its city-steering function, which makes the steering lighter for low speed manoeuvring like parking.

The TwinAir engine is the pick of the bunch – it sounds enthusiastic and is significantly quicker than the more basic petrol and the diesel. It can get from 0-60mph in 11.2 seconds, and isn’t too noisy at speed, but it's fair to say that no Panda feels at its best on the motorway.

Price, value for money & options

4.2 / 5

Standard equipment levels are low across the range

The basic Panda Pop doesn’t come with features such as air conditioning or remote central locking, which are standard on the next-level-up Easy, but does get electric front windows and an MP3-compatible stereo.

Go for the mid-range Lounge model and it adds to Easy spec with electrically adjustable door mirrors and alloy wheels. Top-of-the-range Panda 4x4s get four-wheel-drive, all-weather tyres, and electronic stability control as standard.

The Fiat is priced competitively but there should still be room to negotiate a discount with a dealer. Panda's hold their value quite well and, in a recent survey, Fiat was found to have stronger second-hand values than manufacturers such as Jaguar and Volvo.

What the others say

2 / 5
based on 4 reviews
  • 4.0 / 5
    "Cheap to buy, efficient TwinAir engine and fun to drive, but limited rear legroom, not enough kit, and a cheap interior."
  • "Fiat brings the unique Twinair engine to bear again here. It pulls like a bubbly little locomotive, and in the lower gears out-performs the ability of those little tyres to apply all the surge. In fifth, no other tiny car has this sort of effortless motorway fast-line smarts. If you drive it like that the economy won’t be special, but if you go gently you can stretch fuel. And the notional economy potential is what gets it its low-tax 99g/km CO2 rating."
  • 4.0 / 5
    "In practice the Panda is indeed comfortable. Even over some genuinely terrible road surfaces it never actually became jarring, and while it certainly woggled around quite a bit it remained controlled and generally engaging."
  • "It's now a more attractive design with rounded off edges and an attractive interior, complete with square steering wheel (very Austin Allegro) plus square design detailing across the dashboard. Materials have been improved and Fiat says attention has been paid to ensuring the Panda works well not just in town but outside of it too."

Last updated 
30 Apr 2014

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