In-depth reviews

Fiat Panda hatchback - Engines, drive & performance

The Fiat Panda is a good performer around town, but it’s less impressive on the motorway

Carbuyer Rating

2.5 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.4 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.0 out of 5

The Fiat Panda is a small, light and easy-to-drive car that’s most at home in towns and cities. It features a City button on the dashboard that makes the steering even lighter than normal, which means tricky parking manoeuvres are easier and less strenuous. The Panda also features soft suspension for dealing with speed bumps and potholes, but unlike the old model it doesn’t get too bouncy over rough surfaces. However, there's little body control if you tackle a challenging road too quickly, so the Panda is best driven at a more relaxed pace.

The Panda’s small petrol engine is geared towards delivering spritely performance in city and town driving, but they’re not as good at long-distance cruising on motorways or A-roads – the Volkswagen up! and Hyundai i10, are much better in this regard. What’s more, the Panda’s high sides mean it gets buffeted quite strongly by crosswinds.

Fiat Panda petrol engines

First arriving as the Panda Mild Hybrid Launch Edition, and now fitted as standard, the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol with mild hybrid technology is the most efficient engine the Panda has been offered with. With 69bhp it's not really any faster than the old 1.2-litre - 0-62mph takes 14.7 seconds - but it does feel slightly less breathless, even if it's still a bit unrefined. At least its raspy exhaust note does add to the Panda's character.

In theory, the mild-hybrid setup should give the engine a small boost under acceleration, but it's impossible to detect on the move. In fact, the main way you'll know the technology is on-board is thanks to a light on the dashboard, because during our test its coasting feature - where the engine cuts out when you aren't on the throttle - never functioned.

The Panda was once available with a rather jerky automatic gearbox, known as the Dualogic, but this has been discontinued. It’s now only available with a six-speed manual transmission.

Diesel engines

There was just one diesel engine available in the Panda – a 1.3-litre Multijet – but this has now been discontinued through the whole range. Find a used or a pre-registered example, and its acceleration falls somewhere between the two petrol engines, and in general this engine is better suited to motorway driving as it settles down to a quiet cruise at high speed.

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