Fiat Panda review - Engines, performance and drive
The Panda performs well in the city, but out on the motorway the lack of refinement comes to the fore
Around town, the Fiat Panda really shines thanks to its high driving position, excellent visibility and light controls. The soft suspension also means it easily soaks up bumps in the road.
The City button on the dash is also handy as it lightens up the steering – so much so that you can make light adjustments with one finger – and makes squeezing in and out of tight gaps in town much easier. It feels rather remote, though - so it's best avoided in normal driving and saved for parking.
The Panda handles well on the open road, too, but sadly the engines can struggle. It’s a shame, as their lack of refinement means rivals like the Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen up! have a distinct advantage on longer motorway journeys, especially when compared to more affordable petrol-powered versions of the Fiat. The diesel was a little better in this regard, but you'll only be able to find this on the used market these days.
The Panda engine line-up used to comprise two petrols and a diesel, but an update in 2019 saw the range pared back to the 1.2-litre petrol alongside a new 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol Mild Hybrid, while the Panda 4x4 and Cross 4x4 use the 0.9-litre Twin Air unit. The 1.2-litre was subsequently dropped in 2020 leaving the mild-hybrid as the range mainstay.
While the TwinAir model is the fastest in the line-up, you still shouldn’t expect earth-shattering performance from its 84bhp. Fiat claims 0-62mph in 12.7 seconds and a top speed of 102mph, while the turbocharger provides more mid-range grunt than the mild-hybrid.
If you’re eyeing up a used Panda, the old 68bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine needs to be worked hard, and at motorway speed it sounds thrashy. It’s also pretty slow, with a 14.5-second 0-62mph time. The current 1.0-litre Mild Hybrid model delivers 69bhp, but is a touch quicker with a 13.9-second 0-62mph time and a top speed of 102mph that matches the 4x4. Its primary focus is to deliver improved emissions, which it does at 126g/km.
In this review
- 1Fiat Panda reviewFiat’s recently re-jigged Panda range still offers plenty of character and style
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingThe Panda performs well in the city, but out on the motorway the lack of refinement comes to the fore
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsNo version of the Panda will cost much to run, even if you can't match the official fuel economy figures
- 4Interior, design and technologyCharacterful design gives the Panda a sense of fun inside and out, but some parts feel cheap
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Fiat Panda has an airy cabin and a practical boot, although it's not the biggest load bay in its class
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe Panda doesn't feel as durable as rivals, while Euro NCAP safety ratings aren't the best