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Did you know that there are only 1834 Pandas in the world? Scary thought – they are almost extinct! And, did you know that there is a song named Panda by the singer Desiigner? Interestingly, and rather humorously, the song name is inspired by the BMW X6.

Perhaps more appropriately named after the black and white bamboo-eating Panda Bear of central China, is Fiat’s Panda.

The cute little city car from Fiat first launched 38 years ago and is now in its third incarnation. This third generation has recently been facelifted. Locally, we have four models – the Easy, Lounge, 4x4 and 4x4 Cross. All the models feature the same new engine. It’s a tiny but characterful 0.9-L two-cylinder engine fitted with a turbocharger. The Easy, Lounge and 4x4 versions push out 63kW/145N.m that will get you from 0-100km/h in just over 11 seconds. The 2x4 Easy and Lounge models are offered with a 5-speed manual gearbox, with the 4x4 models featuring a 6-speed manual gearbox. While the “Goes Everywhere, Parks Anywhere” – 4x4 Cross model has a little more oomph, with 66kW and the same amount of torque.

Toy-like, the Panda is compact and full of charm. The five-door, four-seater has a raised ride height playing the role of a faux SUV. Albeit, the Panda is capable of climbing pavements, speed bumps and some hilly terrain with ease thanks to its Electronic Locking Differential and "Torque on demand" drive system (only on the Cross model), which is activated automatically and when required. But don’t put the poor little Panda through too much chore – it might get stuck in the mud. Impressively, the Panda Cross can even tackle a maximum gradient of 70% and a lateral gradient of 55%, values close to those of pure off-roaders and higher than those of the leading SUVs on the market.

Today, the third generation Panda 4x4 comes of age, offering improved quality in terms of space, comfort, functionality, technology and safety features. 

There are new colours: pastel Amore Red, metallic Colosseo Grey, pastel Sicilian orange and metallic Tuscany green. Bumpers, lights, and wheel rims are refreshed. Another feat for the Panda is the largest boot in its segment: 225 l that turns into 870 l when the rear seat backrest is folded down.

From a tech front, the Panda includes the new UconnectTM infotainment system with Bluetooth 2.1, audio streaming, a USB port located in the cubby, a dash-mounted USB recharging port as well as voice recognition. The top of the range Panda Cross includes automatic climate control, CD/MP3 radio with Blue&Me™ system with steering wheel controls, rear head restraints, height-adjustable steering wheel, fog lights, leather steering wheel, and gear knob and height-adjustable driver’s seat.

The fabric seats have a technical appearance featuring brown eco-leather side strips that match the trim on the door panels. The front seats are characterised by the burnished Cross wording on the backrest. The dashboard fascia comes in a new copper colour, as does the central console, where the brand-new Terrain Control drive selector is fitted. The equipment is completed by the leather steering wheel, with built-in controls and the leather gear knob.

Despite its diversity and ability to climb hills, day-to-day driving is an easy affair. Light controls and a zippy motor make city driving, maneuvering and parking a breeze. Not without flaws, the Panda does feel toy-like – as opposed to a solid piece of machinery. But let’s call a spade a spade – the Panda is an economical city car, not a M4 Sherman tank.

Currently, (I’m not sure how long the campaign will be running for) Fiat are running a R30 000.00 Trade Assistance. Nice deal getting R30K assistance on your purchase.

PLUS +

  • Compact – easy to live with.
  • Cute little engine.
  • The 4x4 versions offer cost-effective adventure.

MINUS -

  • Toy-like.

 

The competition

Suzuki Ignis, Mahindra KUV100, Haval H1, Renault Duster, BAIC X25 and Suzuki Jimny

 

Pricing

0.9 TwinAir Easy R199 900

0.9 TwinAir Lounge R214 900

0.9 TwinAir 4 x 4 R245 900

0.9 TwinAir 4 x 4 Cross R265 900

 

Service and Warranty

All Fiat vehicles are available from dealerships countrywide and carry a 3 year/100,000km warranty and service plan.

 

My Choice

0.9 TwinAir Lounge R214 900

www.fiat.co.za/panda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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