Fiat Panda hatchback
Price £9,375 - £14,975
- 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 boxy and functional alternative to its sister car the Fiat 500. It's been around in its present form since 2102, during which time the city car class it sits in has seen the arrival of some new or improved rivals.
These include the SEAT Mii, Volkswagen up! and Skoda Citigo, the Peugeot 108, Toyota Aygo and Citroen C1 and the Kia Picanto, Renault Twingo and Hyundai i10. The Panda aims to take them on with a mix of qualities, including reasonable practicality, good cabin space, low running costs and a certain quirky charm.
The model is powered by a choice of small petrol and diesel engines. Among the petrols is a cheap 1.2-litre, which is cheap and reasonably economical, but also slow. We prefer the more modern 0.9-litre two-cylinder TwinAir, which makes a distinctive sound perfectly in keeping with the Panda's cheeky charm. It's great for nipping around the city and, with a light right foot, capable of returning up to 68.9mpg.
However, if you’re contemplating longer drives you’ll find the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel more powerful and relaxing, as well as more economical still (up to 74.3mpg).
Thanks to its light steering, the Panda is agile around town. Its soft suspension soaks up potholes and bumps well without bouncing, too However, out on the open road the model's high sides leave it vulnerable to crosswinds. Newer and lower city cars such as the up! and i10 feel more stable.
The Panda's an easy car to see out of and, thanks to its high roofline, offers plenty of headroom. However, it's still a bit cramped in the back, despite the fact that the rear seats can slide backwards and forwards. At least this function creates more boot space if you need it. Unfortunately, split-folding seats are a £290 option.
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 loses its value 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