Review

Fiat Panda hatchback

Price  £9,510 - £15,110

Fiat Panda hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Funky interior design
  • Great to drive in town
  • Low purchase and running costs
Cons
  • Could be better equipped
  • Not great on the motorway
  • Only four-star Euro NCAP safety score

At a glance

The greenest
0.9 TwinAir 85hp Dualogic Lounge 5dr £12,760
The cheapest
1.2 Pop 5dr £9,510
The fastest
0.9 TwinAir 85hp Easy 5dr £11,510
Top of the range
1.3-16v Multijet Trekking EU6 5dr £15,110

“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).

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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.

MPG, running costs & CO2

4.4 / 5

With good fuel economy and annual road tax of £30 or less, the Fiat Panda is a very cheap car to buy and run

Engines, drive & performance

3.7 / 5

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

Interior & comfort

3.2 / 5

Tall, boxy body gives Fiat Panda occupants great visibility and lots of space

Practicality & boot space

3.5 / 5

The Fiat Panda is impressively spacious for such a small car, but you need to add some options to maximise its practicality

Reliability & safety

3.2 / 5

A simple car like the Fiat Panda should be reliable, but its four-star Euro NCAP safety rating is slightly concerning

What the others say

3.5 / 5
based on 4 reviews
4 / 5
"The Fiat Panda doesn't have class-leading build quality but it makes up for that with its quirky personality and cute looks."
3 / 5
"The Fiat Panda is an endearing and funky looking little car that won’t cost you much to run."
4 / 5
"This model of Fiat Panda is certainly more attractive than its predecessors. It has a more rounded look to the exterior while the interior feels much more grown-up, with an improved finish."
3 / 5
"This Fiat Panda is much improved inside, with far higher quality throughout and a neater design, too. The plastics are less scratchy than before and nicer to touch, while the overall finish has more attention to detail."
What owners say 
4.7142857142857
4.7 /5 based on 14 reviews
86%
 of people would recommend this car to a friend

Owner rating:

3 star   0
1 star   0

Common problems:

Last updated 
28 Jul 2016
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