Fiat Panda – a car for florists?
Fiat Panda – first impressions from behind the wheel
The Fiat Panda is an iconic model from the Italian manufacturer, it’s just that if you live in Australia you wouldn’t know, as this vehicle is the first Panda to grace our shores since the model launched 33 years ago (see our Panda 101 article here). If you’ve been over to Europe and hired a cheap rental car, odds are you’ve already driven a Panda, but you probably didn’t notice (who does?).
Much like other Fiat models, the Panda comes in a number of variants, in order from the base model up these are Pop, Easy, Lounge, and specific to Panda, Trekking. The model which has garnered the most attention in Europe, the 4×4 has not made it over, which is a shame as it’s probably the smallest 4×4 you can buy anywhere in the world, which makes it a little quirky, even if maybe not that practical for your average Aussie 4×4 fan (they probably wouldn’t let it into the club).
On the launch drive we got to test out the entry level Pop with a 1.2l 4 cylinder 5 speed manual, and the next one up, the Dualogic (semi auto) 0.9l TwinAir Easy. We missed our chance to drive the turbo diesel Trekking variant.
Our first impressions were good. It’s important to realise what this car is and what it isn’t. There was a little discussion at the launch about which ‘category’ the Panda fits in, but in our opinion the longstanding car industry classification is outmoded and the Fiat guys admitted it didn’t really fit any one category, rather cut across a few. The car is not designed for people who want fast, it’s not for people who want to cruise long distances, it’s not for you if you need to lug lots of stuff around. But if you’re looking for a utilitarian vehicle with a little bit of an identity, the Panda may be for you.
Even though it’s the smaller TwinAir which is more technologically advanced, on the drive we preferred the (lower spec) 1.2l as it felt a little more responsive. We’ll have to drive the diesel to give you a verdict on that one.
So the story goes, the designers at Fiat given the job of refreshing the 33 year old model were discussing whether it should be ‘boxy’ or more rounded. An inability to decide between these options led to them following another path – the squircle. So everything is boxy, but with very rounded edges!
The end result is quite a quirky design, but it turns out it has – as a result – a better drag coefficient (0.32) than a Ferrari 458 Italia. If only it went as fast.
The new Panda also incorporates lots of clever little features to make it easier and more comfortable to drive – for example a little window in the rear pillar gives better rear vision, and the design motif on the driver’s seat actually improves air circulation and makes the seat more comfortable.
The Panda Pop comes in at a very affordable $16,500 driveaway.
Who will buy it? We think it will appeal to a wide range of people, but in essence anyone who would otherwise have bought a 500 but really needs a little extra space. One potential target market that came up in conversation – florists. Dinky enough, but with enough room in the back for all those flowers. And easy to park.
We’ll have more information for you when we get an opportunity for a longer test drive.
And here is the full Monty from Fiat on the new model…
October 25 2013
Fiat Panda – Italian Style, Universal Appeal
- Third generation Fiat Panda, Italy’s best-selling car, makes its Australian debut
- Panda – Fiat’s benchmark small car delivers five-door, five-seat practicality with a spacious, flexible interior, yet compact exterior dimensions
- Available with advanced safety and technology features typically found in cars twice its size, such as Low Speed Collision Mitigation, fuel saving Start&Stop and integrated Blue&Me™ TomTom® navigation
October 25, 2013 – Fiat Chrysler Group has announced the arrival of the celebrated Fiat Panda, one of Europe’s most iconic city cars that is now available in Australia for the very first time, joining a growing Fiat vehicle range that includes the 500, Punto, Freemont, Scudo, Ducato and Abarth models.
The new Fiat Panda is the latest version of a well-loved and admired car that is renowned for its use of space, compact dimensions, fun style and functionality. With its five doors and flexible interior, the new Panda builds on an enviable reputation for convenience and durability that has been its hallmark since the original Panda was unveiled in 1980.
The third generation Panda, Europe’s top-selling supermini, is bigger, roomier, safer and more fuel efficient than its predecessors. With the continued popularity of downsizing, the concept of an attractive, sophisticated city car with room for five, an advanced range of economical engines and a host of large car features has never been more appealing.
The all-new Fiat Panda is just such a car, with an interior boasting greater flexibility and higher quality materials than its predecessor, as well as some clever, cutting edge technologies that set a new benchmark for small cars when it was launched in Europe. All of this is cloaked in a stylish, yet friendly new design and powered by some of the most economical engines on the market today.
For the Australian market, the Panda line-up consists of four models – Pop, Easy, Lounge and the 4×4-inspired Trekking. Three different engines are offered across the four-model Panda range, headlined by Fiat’s award-winning TwinAir turbo powerplant.
This 875cc unit has the lowest carbon dioxide emissions of any quantity production petrol engine in the world and won International Engine of the Year 2011 courtesy of its unique combination of power, flexibility and economy.
With 63 kW of power, Combined Cycle fuel efficiency as low as 4.1 litres per 100km and a characterful throaty sound track, this engine has cemented Fiat’s position at the forefront of modern combustion engine development.
The TwinAIr turbo is joined by the latest evolution of the dependable 1.2-litre FIRE engine, which produces 51 kW and employs variable valve timing technology to blend power with economy. The new Panda is also available with a 1.3-litre MultiJet2 turbo diesel engine. This second generation, compact unit features faster injectors than its predecessor, making it quieter, more economical and cheaper to run.
The TwinAir and MultiJet engines are both fitted with the Start&Stop system, while all three Panda engines are equipped with the Gear Shift Indicator (GSI) feature, which suggests to the driver when to change gear in order to achieve the best fuel economy.
As well as the new engines, the new Panda has revised dimensions that make it longer, wider and taller than the vehicle it replaces, with more space for passengers and their luggage, while still maintaining sufficiently diminutive exterior dimensions to sit firmly in the city car category.
Most of the Panda’s growth in length is in the rear overhang, which has enabled an increase to luggage space as well as more legroom for rear passengers. The new Panda is also 66 mm wider, which means it can seat three passengers comfortably in the rear – most class rivals have room for only two passengers in the back.
For improved passenger comfort and driver enjoyment there is all-new suspension and a body that is significantly more rigid than its predecessor. These attributes further improve the Panda’s already impressive safety credentials, which includes six airbags, ABS anti-lock braking with Brake Assist System (BAS), Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and an active anti-whiplash head restraint system as standard equipment across the range, making it one of the best-equipped cars of its kind in safety terms.
Unusually for a car of this size, it also features a new safety innovation as standard equipment on the Lounge variant called Low Speed Collision Mitigation – this advanced safety system reads the road ahead and when it detects an obstacle in the vehicle’s path, applies the brakes automatically to avoid a collision.
But the Panda’s long list of practical features isn’t just reserved for the driver. To maximise space inside, the all-new interior is packed with useful equipment, such as 14 storage compartments, including an open portal on the dashboard.
As with all other models in the Fiat vehicle range, the new Panda is equipped with the Blue&Me connectivity system to allow owners to sync music players and mobile phones with the vehicle, enabling handsfree control of devices using either voice activation or steering-wheel mounted controls.
The new Panda is also available with the latest Blue&Me TomTom navigation device as an option, featuring a 4.3-inch touchscreen. However, all Panda models are fitted with the navigation device docking port as standard equipment, which means they are all pre-equipped and ready to fully integrate the navigation unit with the vehicle’s audio system.
DESIGN: HEART MEETS HEAD
Since the Panda was first shown at the Geneva Motor Show in 1980, it has become a byword for substance, practicality and user-friendliness.
Now entering its third generation, the new Panda combines the best of the first and second generation models but with a character all of its own, which allows Fiat to move the Panda legend forward once again.
Centro Stile Fiat designers have produced a new design that portrays an even stronger vision of utility and personality than the car it replaces. In creating this careful evolution of the famous model, the designers have reinforced the Panda as a timeless classic, while also ensuring its position as an integral member of the Fiat Automobiles family.
Comprehensive restyling has resulted in the Panda’s lines being more rounded than its predecessor. This softening, combined with the absence of corners, conveys solidity and sophistication and makes the car appear bigger than its city car dimensions might suggest. The sleek new look has also been designed to give the passenger compartment a welcoming and protective feel, with the additional benefit of a sleek drag coefficient of 0.32, one of the lowest in its class.
The softening of lines continues within the overall shape. Side windows have been contoured to maximise outward visibility for added safety, while giving the cabin a perception of airiness. All windows have rounded-off corners and the third window at the sides, a signature of the second-generation Panda, is less angular. These also merge with the rear light clusters, which are set higher to reduce the possibility of damage from minor knocks, while making them more visible to other road users.
Bumper strips that follow the rounded motif have been added for extra protection from parking knocks. In a nod to the first generation car, there are side mouldings on Lounge and Trekking versions for a more rugged look, which is further accentuated by the body kit on the Trekking model.
INTERIOR: BUILDING ON AN ICON
The Fiat Panda has always been synonymous with style, practicality and useability, and this latest version builds on these key ‘pillars’. Although just 3650mm long with a wheelbase of 2300mm, the newcomer can comfortably seat five people and has one of the biggest luggage compartments in its class.
Functionality is another of the Panda’s hallmarks and the new model is no different, with the five-door design making cabin access easy. Internal space is 26mm wider at the front and 5mm wider at the rear, while overall, the cabin is 20mm longer than the previous model.
New slim seat technology yields 23mm more entry space at the front and 6mm at the rear, which provides more leg room for back seat passengers, while those in the front benefit from improved seat travel that is now an impressive 210mm fore and aft.
The rear seat backrest folds down to create 870 litres of boot space – 36 litres more than the second generation model – as well as providing a luggage platform that’s more than two metres in length. In addition, the rear backrest can be split in 60/40 configuration.
New seat material has also been fitted to the new Panda, employing squares that are electronically welded to the backrests in order to improve airflow between the occupant’s back and the seat, thereby improving comfort in warm weather.
Further improving cabin comfort when temperatures are high, the new Panda has an upgraded climate control system, which centres on a revised control unit that ensures the required temperature is reached as quickly as possible – a particularly desirable feature in extreme weather conditions.
Improvements have also been made to interior refinement and improving NVH, which has resulted in a 4dB noise reduction compared to the previous generation model. This effectively means road noise has been halved.
The dashboard has undergone a radical design rework, which recalls the original Panda by boasting a roomy storage compartment ahead of the front passenger, but there is also a more conventional locking glovebox in the lower section of the dash.
Other clever internal innovations include redesigned door panels, allowing the speakers to be positioned higher, which improves sound quality while also enabling the door pockets to be made wider and more usable. The hand brake has also been redesigned by making it shorter, which has released storage space in front, behind and underneath the lever.
In total, there are 14 storage spaces in the new Panda, including a mix of open and closed, as well as a glasses holder above the driver’s side window on Easy, Lounge and Trekking models.
TECHNOLOGY: BIG CAR FEATURES
Modern cars are about so much more than just getting around, they are also mobile platforms for the latest communication technologies. Along with other models in the Fiat vehicle range, the new Panda is equipped with the latest, award-winning Blue&Me™ infotainment system.
Based on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile for Automotive, Blue&Me allows Bluetooth equipped devices such as phones and MP3 music players to be linked to the vehicle. Occupants can control the devices using voice activation via a display panel that works in convert with a microphone in the roof, or through the steering wheel-mounted buttons.
By allowing drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their devices securely stowed, the Blue&Me system is both safe and easy to use. The latest generation voice recognition system allows immediate interaction because it does not have to go through a learning phase, while phonebook contents can be transferred to the vehicle’s display panel.
Music stored on a USB device, media player or the latest Apple systems can be played through the sound system with track information shown on the display panel.
Blue&Me TomTom® opens the door to additional connectivity by combining all the features of the regular Blue&Me system with satellite navigation functionality. Featuring a 4.3-inch touchscreen display, this portable navigation device slots into a holder in the middle of the dash so there are no unsightly wires or cables, yet the device can be removed for safe keeping.
All Panda models are pre-equipped ready to support the optional TomTom portable navigation device and mounting cradle.
Teamed with Blue&Me is Fiat’s widely acclaimed eco:Drive system that enables users to download information about their driving to a USB stick. This information can then be uploaded to their computer and by accessing Fiat’s eco:Drive website, where acceleration, deceleration, gear shifts and speed are analysed to give drivers a personal eco:Index of between 1 and 100.
The eco:Drivers then receive tips on how to improve their performance and can become part of the eco:Ville on-line community which, to date, has enabled 64,000 users to save 4,300 tonnes of CO2 by improving their driving styles.
ENGINES: SMALL CAPACITY, BIG HEART
Fiat is at the cutting edge of combustion engine design and development – as a result the new Panda comes with a choice of engines that lead the way in terms of performance, fuel consumption and emissions.
0.9-litre TwinAir Turbo
At the forefront of the powertrain line-up is Fiat’s International Engine of the Year 2011, the TwinAir turbo. This 875cc unit combines Fiat’s revolutionary MultiAir technology with two cylinders and a turbocharger.
The results are stunning, with its 63 kW power output representing a 10 per cent increase compared to a conventional engine of the same size, while peak torque of 145Nm is up 15 per cent and the CO2 emissions rating of 99g/km represents an improvement of 10 per cent.
As with every other MultiAir engine, at the heart of this unit is a new electro-hydraulic valve management system, which reduces fuel consumption to as little as 3.7 litres per 100 kilometres (Extra Urban Cycle – Dualogic transmission) by controlling the intake of air directly via the inlet valves rather than the throttle. It enables airflow to be managed cylinder by cylinder, cycle by cycle, phase by phase, according to the driver’s requirements.
By rigorously controlling the combustion process, pumping losses are reduced by around 10 per cent, while valve control strategies are optimised to reduce emissions and boost driveability through improved throttle responses.
Fitting perfectly with the Panda’s compact size, the TwinAir takes downsizing to a new level by combining a small capacity engine with a turbocharger, which improves performance and flexibility, particularly at very low revs, where it’s far more responsive than a conventional normally aspirated engine.
1.2-litre Fire EVO II
More than 10 million units of the four-cylinder FIRE engine family have been produced and this durable, reliable engine remains a point of reference in the category courtesy of its flexible architecture.
Now fitted with continuously variable valve timing to optimise valve opening and closing at all engine speeds, fuel consumption in the new Panda with the latest generation 1.2-litre FIRE engine is a frugal 5.2 litres per 100 kilometres (Combined Cycle). Yet it still delivers healthy power and torque outputs of 51 kW and 102 Nm respectively, while producing just 120 g/km of CO2 emissions.
1.3-litre MultiJet 2
Fiat’s latest small turbo diesel engine has been described as a masterpiece of technology in miniature – it certainly has compact proportions, measuring just 60cm in length by 70cm high and tipping the scales at only 140kg.
But it’s big on performance with a power output of 55kW at 4000rpm and peak torque of 190Nm at 1500rpm, which combine to deliver excellent flexibility.
The efficiency of the MultiJet2 engine is also big news, as it can manage a remarkable 3.9 litres per 100 kilometres (Combined Cycle) in the new Panda with corresponding CO2 emissions of just 104g/km. This combination of performance and economy is delivered courtesy of second generation MultiJet technology.
Faster injectors allow up to eight injections per cycle, resulting in greater speed, flexibility and precision in the various combustion phases. The improved injection rate also enables two injections that are so close together as to generate a continuous but modulated supply of fuel to the cylinders.
By improving the combustion process in this way, engine operation is quieter while particulate and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions are also significantly improved, enabling the engine to meet strict Euro 5 standards.
The injectors are also simpler with 40 per cent fewer components, meaning they are more reliable than their predecessors, as well as promising cheaper running costs.
To further boost economy, the TwinAir turbo petrol and MultiJet2 turbo diesel engines apart are equipped with Fiat’s Start&Stop system.
Specifically designed for city driving, Start&Stop switches the engine off when traffic requires the vehicle to stop, while keeping all functions such as lights, climate control and the sound system operating. When it’s time to move off again, releasing the brake pedal (Dualogic) or operating the clutch triggers the engine to re-start.
All cars with Start&Stop are fitted with a Gear Shift Indicator (GSI) as well, which offers a discreet prompt to drivers to change gear at the optimum point to minimise fuel consumption. The TwinAir Turbo model also features an ECO button on the dashboard. Pushing the button changes the engine electronics to a specific map that reduces torque to 100Nm and focuses on minimising consumption.
When drivers do need to visit the bowser, the Smart Fuel System is another large car feature designed to make city car life as easy as possible. The classic fuel cap has been replaced by a fuel filler pipe that opens and closes automatically when the pump is inserted and withdrawn. It reduces unpleasant gas emissions, any chance of fuel overflow and also doesn’t allow petrol to be pumped into a diesel car, or vice versa.
The new Panda is also available with Fiat’s Dualogic transmission, which is an automated transmission that can also be used as a manual. There is no clutch pedal, so to prompt gear changes in manual mode, the lever is pushed forwards or backwards to shift either up or down. It’s a system that’s simple to use, gives the option of relaxed automatic gear changing round town and more involving driver-prompted changes on the open road.
The software that tells the transmission when to perform automatic gear changes has also been optimised for fuel efficiency, as part of the suite of fuel-saving technologies engineered into the new Panda.
DYNAMICS: REWARDING, COMFORTABLE AND SAFE
The new Panda has been designed to be rewarding for all sorts of drivers and in all kinds of conditions. In addition to being practical, comfortable and spacious inside, it’s also been built to put a smile on the face of keen drivers, while offering large car protection to its occupants despite its compact car dimensions.
The Panda has an exceptionally rigid body that utilises high resistance materials in 70 per cent of its construction. The car also features a third load path, which provides more effective control of deformation during frontal impacts and reduces the chance of penetration to the passenger compartment by transferring energy to the lower, more resistant parts of the vehicle.
The improved rigidity combines with the latest technology to ensure comprehensive protection in the event of an accident. Six airbags are fitted as standard equipment (dual front, front side and side curtain airbags) while front seatbelts feature pretensioners and load limiters. The front seats are also equipped with an anti-whiplash restraint system while the rear seats feature head restraints and combined Isofix/top-tether attachments for child seats.
ABS anti-lock brakes are fitted as standard, along with a Brake Assist System (BAS) for quicker, more powerful braking to ensure drivers maximise the performance of the braking system. Electronic Stability Program (ESP) is also standard equipment, while a Hill Holder feature enables the driver to make effortless hill starts when taking off on inclines – it continues to apply the brakes for up to two seconds after the brake pedal has been released to prevent the vehicle from rolling backwards.
Low Speed Collision Mitigation (LSCM) is a large car safety feature that raises the bar in terms of what drivers can expect from compact cars. Available on the high-spec Panda Lounge models, LSCM can recognise obstacles in the path of the car and apply the brakes if the driver fails to do so. Depending on the speed, the system can either avoid obstacles altogether or minimise the consequences of an impact.
The LSCM system combines Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Prefill and Brake Assist. The AEB is triggered by a windscreen mounted laser sensor, which assesses whether the obstacle poses a threat. The sensor employs the same principles as those used in astronomy to measure the distance between satellites.
The obstacle must be more than 40 per cent of the width of the vehicle and the angle of impact must be less than 30 degrees. In addition to applying the brakes automatically, engine torque is reduced if the accelerator pedal hasn’t been released. The AEB works in tandem with Prefill, which primes the braking system for a more prompt response either when the AEB system takes over or in a regular emergency stop.
The new Panda employs all-new suspension that’s been designed to improve comfort, handling and crash safety performance. It’s been lightened using a lower arm, which has been constructed using ultra high-strength material – the first time this method has been employed on a European-made car. It combines with a modular cross member made of low thickness, high resistance steel sheets that work in conjunction with the third load path.
There is also a new split shock absorber mounting which, by transmitting loads to the body through two different routes, better filters out road vibrations and improves acoustics compared to the previous model. The front suspension also has a new anti-roll bar that is lighter, without compromising its rigidity, and has been connected to the shock absorber to maximise the anti-roll effect.
New suspension bushes have been added front and rear to improve noise insulation without detracting from road holding.
To enable the new Panda to perform on the open road and in the tight confines of the city with equal aplomb, Dualdrive electric power steering features a ‘City’ function. Push the dash-mounted button marked ‘City’ and assistance to the steering is increased to facilitate parking manoeuvres and enable drivers to employ the tight 9.3-metre turning circle more easily.
The default setting – which it returns to when the ‘City’ button is pressed again or when speeds exceed 35 km/h – ensures the greater driving precision and steering wheel response that is more suited to higher road speeds.
QUALITY AND QUANTITY
One of the fundamental aims of the new Fiat Panda program was to improve product quality for city cars, which has been achieved by concentrating on the three key areas of materials, production and people.
With an investment of 800 million Euros, Fiat’s Giambattista Vico plant in Pomigliano d’Arco on the outskirts of Naples has been transformed into a centre of technological and organisational excellence, where up to 260,000 Pandas will be produced annually.
Sheet metal components are now sourced internally, which means that Fiat has far greater control over the final quality. A department with 10 drawing and three cutting lines uses 377 moulds to transform sheet metal into door, floor, roof and side panels to construct a new Panda model.
The factory has also been equipped with the largest plastic pressing unit in the company. More than 100 parts are made from melted polypropylene granules that are injected into 35 ultra-modern moulds under high pressure. Components made using this technique include the bumpers, centre console and dashboard sections. The latter is produced by a single machine that uses a triple-injection system to form the external part first, followed by the middle section in four available colours.
Fiat has also invested more than 15 million Euros in the paint department, which has enabled water-based paints to be applied by robots, eliminating awkward manual internal sealing processes.
State-of-the-art machinery has been housed in one of the most modern factories in the world. The new Pomigliano d’Arco facility has undergone a complete production revolution, including a sheet metal working department where 99 per cent of processes are automated and 600 robots are in operation.
Rather than doing the lifting and welding work, workers now run the systems and manage the controls in a spacious, clean and well-lit environment.
One of the most advanced systems is welding, where latest generation ‘hollow wrist’ robots apply 520 spot welds in 30 minutes. There are two side panel production lines that run along the edges of the main production line, while the line itself is made up of modules that can be removed or added according to production requirements, allowing up to four different models to be produced at once.
Bodies are moved from one part of the factory to another by overhead train while small, safe and quiet electrical trains have replaced forklift trucks for transporting parts on the ground. Even the pallets that move the cars around as they’re being built have been modernised. Bodies are now clamped to the pallets, so key couplings are maintained throughout the build and as the cars progress through the factory, opto-electronic control stations along the production line check quality compliance and geometric precision.
However, investment hasn’t just been in the factory – workers at the Pomigliano d’Arco facility have also undergone a total of 200,000 hours of training, while a well-structured assessment programme has been developed to ensure the correctly trained person is working at the right station at the right time.
The workers were also asked to contribute to setting up the new factory by defining the organisation of production cycles and work stations. In total, workers contributed around 8500 suggestions to how work station safety, ergonomics and product quality could be improved by eliminating errors.
The staff at Pomigliano d’Arco accepted that the only way to move forward was to modernise. The result was a sheet metal department developed from scratch, an improved paint department, a new plastic processing department and a redesigned assembly department. In each of these areas, workers’ suggestions were implemented along with world-class manufacturing standards.
To achieve this, workers were encouraged to reconstruct assembly lines virtually, then break them down into stations and operation sequences. It wasn’t until each department had found the best solution for each activity that the line was physically built. As a result, work stations are designed so that the car rises up or turns on hooks to offer the correct side at the right height, which means employees don’t have to reach more than 60cm to perform their tasks.
Line workers aren’t the only ones who benefit in the new factory. Glassed-in offices are located right in the middle of the factory so as to be close to the production lines and workers.
The results of the production process are checked in the Metrological Unit Quality Centre by a piece of equipment called Meisterblock. Body panels are placed on a jig and an 18-metre long measuring machine checks 2000 points around the car using electronic probes to guarantee that all couplings, clearances, profiles, geometric dimensions and tolerances correspond precisely to the design.
The Assembly Master stands next to the Meisterblock and employs an innovative photometric scanning system to quickly and accurately assess the new Panda’s bodywork. This compares photographs of a sample car with the master and immediately shows up any areas that are not perfect.
Once that check has been completed, cars are moved to the hemi-anechoic room for static noise checks, which measure the sound generated by functions like the movement of the windows, the opening and closing of doors and the sliding of seats in their guides.
Water tightness is checked under a nine-post trellis and then all cars undergo a dynamic test on a track over a variety of surfaces. Finally, two of the most important checks take place. An ‘Initial Customer Perception’ involves a tester simulating a customer on first acquaintance with a car in the showroom. Then a ‘Test from a Customer’s Perspective’ reproduces a buyer’s first few months of car ownership.
HISTORY: THREE DECADES OF BREAKING THE RULES
Although the Fiat Panda has entered its 33rd year in 2013, the new model is still only its third incarnation. Proof that the concept of a small, stylish, affordable people’s car has achieved universal popularity is borne out by the fact that more than 6.4 million Pandas have been sold globally since 1980.
The original model was designed by the legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro as a basic, affordable, no frills utility vehicle. To keep costs down, engines and transmissions were borrowed from the celebrated Fiat 127, window glass was flat and suspensions were kept rudimentary.
But despite its simple design it still had some unique features that endeared it to owners. Seat covers, dash and door panels were washable, while the rear seat was multi-adjustable and could be folded flat to make a bed, or quickly removed to increase overall load space – an innovation for the time.
The Panda continued breaking the rules. In 1983 the famous Panda 4×4 became the first four-wheel drive city car; in 1986 Panda became the first compact to feature a diesel engine; and in 1990 an electric version, the two-seat Panda Elettra, was launched years ahead of its time.
During 1986 the Fiat Panda had its first facelift with fresh styling, revised trim and uprated engines. A second facelift occurred in 1991, but from 1996, with tightening legislation governing emissions and safety, the Panda was gradually phased out in Europe until production finally ceased in 2003.
Its successor was unveiled in the same year to sensational reviews. Its blend of style, honesty and practicality resulted in it being awarded European Car of the Year in 2004 and it was equally popular with the car buying public. By October 2005 the 500,000th second generation Panda had been built and on 5 September, 2007, the one-millionth car rolled off the production line.
Built at Fiat’s Tychy plant in Poland, the second generation Panda also spawned a variety of derivatives including the sporty 100HP model and the Panda 4×4. It was facelifted in 2007 with a new dash and uprated specification, and on 4 July 2011, the two-millionth version of this Panda series was built.
The Fiat Panda range will go on sale in Australia during October 2013, with a starting price of $16,500 drive away for the entry Panda Pop model.
1.2L FIRE 4cyl petrol
$ 16,500 DA#
0.9L TwinAir 2cyl petrol
0.9L TwinAir 2cyl petrol
0.9L TwinAir 2cyl petrol
1.3L MultiJet 4cyl turbo diesel
* Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) – does not include statutory or delivery charges
# Drive away offer on Panda Pop model