It’s a kind of animal magic? [Fiat Panda Review]
The Fiat Panda has been a much-loved fixture on the motoring landscape for more than 30 years. The latest version shouldn’t disappoint. It’s been a matter of tweaking a winning formula for Fiat – with the addition of some useful innovations and ever more efficient engine variants. Anyone looking for car lease deals on an all-round solidly performing city car will want to pay close attention.
The Look and Feel
Rounded-out rectangles feature heavily on the exterior of the Fiat Panda – from the extra side windows at the rear through to the wheel arches and headlamps. The Fiat Panda also happens to be relatively tall for a vehicle in this class – which almost gives it the air of a mini-MPV rather than a city car. There’s plenty of glass – so visibility isn’t a problem and the car is wider and longer – as well as taller than previous incarnations.
This helps to give a much more pleasing experience in the cabin than before. You can get two fully-grown adults in the back with absolute ease. The boot’s bigger too; offering 225 litres of space. Long journeys are also enhanced by the fact that the cabin is now significantly quieter than with the previous versions. Fiat claims that cabin noise has been halved. All of this is going to be particularly attractive to motorists looking for car leasing deals on a citycar option – but who also find themselves spending prolonged periods at cruising speed on those occasional longer trips.
Performance and Drive
The baseline engine is a 1.2-litre petrol unit that produces 69 bhp. Next up is a TwinAir petrol variant capable of producing 85 bhp. There’s also a diesel option – consisting of a 75 bhp 1.3-litre Multijet engine.
Anyone familiar with the older Fiat Panda ought to find there’s an appreciable improvement in the whole driving experience in the new versions. Passengers should also notice a more comfortable ride. In part, this is down to improved sensitivity on the power steering. Improved suspension is also a welcome addition – resulting in sharper cornering with less body roll and more responsive handling overall.
Options and Efficiency
Of the various optional extras available, the most noteworthy is probably Fiat’s Low Speed Collision Mitigation system. This clever add-on uses a laser on the windscreen to constantly scan the area immediately in front of the car to check for imminent collision risks. If a danger is detected and if the driver hasn’t responded, the system is able to activate emergency braking if the car is travelling at less than 18 mph. If you’re going faster than that, then at the very least the system is able to slow down the car as far as possible so as to minimise the strength of the impact.
Motorists looking at car lease deals on vehicles in this class are likely to want to pay close attention to the fuel efficiency figures. Fortunately, those figures shouldn’t disappoint. The 1.2-litre petrol engine is one of Fiat’s oldest. Nevertheless, it still holds its own so far as consumption is concerned; you can expect to get a pretty impressive 57.6 mpg on the combined cycle with 113g/km of CO2.
Fuel efficiency is one of the main reasons for rejecting the 1.2-litre model in favour of the 85 bhp TwinAir variant. This engine has impeccable green credentials; managing over 67 miles to the gallon on the combined cycle whilst notching up just 114g/km of carbon dioxide. The 1.3 Multijet diesel also gives a respectable 67.3 mpg – albeit with CO2 returns of 109g/km. A Start/Stop system is featured on both the TwinAir petrol and Multijet diesel models. This helps to minimise fuel wastage by automatically cutting out the engine when you’re stuck in a stationary position.
The Final Word…
It’s hard to fault any of the changes that have been made to the latest generation Fiat Panda. It’s roomier, fun to drive and economical to run too. Anyone who has looked around for car leasing deals in this category will confirm that there’s plenty of competition out there. The Fiat Panda is definitely a contender though.
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