Fiat Panda 4x4 1.3 Multijet

17 Jan, 2013 10:45am Chris Ebbs

We get behind the wheel of the rugged new Fiat Panda 4x4 as it arrives on British roads

Verdict

4
The Fiat Panda 4x4 isn't the most refined or sophisticated of city cars, but the addition of four-wheel drive adds a real charm to the Panda. On the road it’s nothing special, but the little Fiat’s off-road abilities are astounding.

The cult Fiat Panda 4x4 has already impressed us with its competent off-road abilities and comfortable ride, but how will it fare in its first test on UK roads?

This time we’ve opted for the 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel engine, rather than the 0.9-litre TwinAir we drove previously, with Fiat expecting the sales split to be 50/50 between the two.

As with previous Panda 4x4 models, the most notable difference between this and the standard car is the addition of rugged-looking plastic cladding. Not all of this is for purely aesthetic reasons, though. The bumpers help to protect the front and rear overhangs and the 15-inch wheels come with standard-fit winter and snow tyres.

The interior is similar to that of the standard Fiat Panda, but the 4x4 does get a higher centre console to add a 15th storage compartment. It comes with the same standard kit as the range-topping Lounge trim, which means you get stability control, steering wheel controls, stop-start and the firm's Blue&Me Blutooth connection as standard.

The 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel engine is a little noisy, both at idle and when you’re getting up to speed. It’s more sluggish than the TwinAir version, too, with just 75bhp it takes 14.5 seconds to go from 0-62mph compared to the little petrol engine’s 12.1 seconds.

On the road, the Panda 4x4 is more ordinary than entertaining. The added suspension travel helps soak up bigger potholes and bumps, although it can feel a little unsettled over more constant rough surfaces. The steering is light and ideal for negotiating tight situations and the chunky gearknob and steering wheel means it doesn’t feel flimsy.

Despite few Panda 4x4 models ever likely to see more than a wet field, let alone some real challenging off-road terrain, this is where the little Fiat really excels. We put the Panda through some challenging conditions and not once did it let us down once, proving itself to be a genuinely capable SUV.

However, the Panda 4x4's biggest problem is its price. At £14,950, the diesel model is expensive for a small SUV, particularly when you consider that a mid-level Dacia Duster Ambience with four-wheel drive comes in at just £13,495. So if four-wheel drive isn't a must for you but you love the Panda 4x4's charm, you might want to consider the Panda Trekking, which is front-wheel-drive only but gets the same rugged styling and costs £2,000 less.

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lol... ridiculous again... So good but poor Fiat has to content with 4 stars rating....Autoexpress you are brave... I mean such review.. Had this been a VW, it would have received a rave review! Bravo...

another auto express bullxxxx review, unless it's German other manufacturers will never get their true worth.

This must be the cleanest 4WD in the market. Personally I don't like Panda's quirky looks. But its raised height and 4WD make it an inviting vehicle.
If I decide to join the Panda Club I'd choose petrol. And since I don't leave the urban jungle much Panda Trekking seems a great deal better.

I know 4WD is complicated to implement, especially in a car with a transverse engine, but this does seem a bit pricey, even with the high equipment specification.
The current UK weather shows that a car like this makes sense, but I'd keep an eye on the second-hand listings, or take a serious look at the Duster.

Cool car. But I would probably go for the Trekking twin air. As it rides as well as the 4x4, is lighter and has traction control which means in use on the road only it makes far more sense than hauling the extra weight 4 wheel drive would give you.

VW +Audi pay car magazines to give them great reviews,but the FIAT is my choice,screw you VW.

How wants a Dacia Duster? Only 3 stars in EuroNcap ;-)

I think this is a cracking little car - Would love one - I have a Panda 4x4 1986 with 7k miles on the clock - I wonder how much they would give me in Part Ex!!

Key specs

  • Price: £14,950
  • Engine: 1.3-litre, 4cyl turbo
  • Transmission: Five-speed manual, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 14.5 seconds
  • Top speed: 99mph
  • Economy: 60.1mpg
  • Emissions: 125g/km
  • Equipment: 15-inch alloys, fog lights, Blue&Me (with USB and aux-in), MP3 CD player, electric front windows
  • On sale: Now
AEX 1,341
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