Fiat Panda Hatchback 2004-2011

Fiat Panda Hatchback 2004-2011

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pros:

  • A great city car
  • Spacious interior for the size
  • Inexpensive and efficient

Cons:

  • Not the safest car in the world
  • As slow and boring as its predecessor

Overview

It's difficult to follow in the footsteps of a nation's favourite, a design icon, a car that's sold in 4.5 million units worldwide. When in 2003 it was decided to scrap the famous Giugiaro-designed Panda, Fiat had to come up with a worthy replacement. It was considered by many a make-or-break point for Fiat ‐ having had several years of financial trouble they had to make the new car a success. And they did it. The Panda is particularly popular on the Continent mainly due to its quirky design and a wide palette of available colours. It has also made an impact in Britain as many people see it as a solid purchase.

Exterior and Interior

For the standards of early 2000s it is actually a good-looking car. It was announced the European Car of the Year 2004 ‐ a historical moment, as it was the first time since the competition exists that a subcompact car receives the top prize. It is a cute little car with unexpected proportions. You will instantly recognise that the car is very tall. It has actually paid off because the height of the ceiling makes up for the missing inches in width. Unlike the first generation Panda, this is comfortable enough for 4 adults. What sets it apart from the competitors is that the Panda can only be bought in a 5-door version. Is that a style statement or simple realisation of the fact that had it been a 3-door car you'd have to gain access to the rear seats through the tailgate? The rear of the car is completely flat and it almost ends with the rear wheels. It looks quirky but it's actually very convenient when parking. The quirky theme continues into the interior. It's fresh, young and fun. It does feel a little grey on the inside, but the symmetrical round clusters of buttons make up for the lack of colour. Thanks to the driving seat position and the large glass area, the car has a remarkable visibility.

Performance and Economy

The Panda is a city car and it's not suitable for those who are looking to travel as fast speeds. It might take 14 or more seconds for it to accelerate to 60mph, but the fact is that many Pandas will never have to do it anyway. Compared to the previous attempts of Fiat to make the ultimate city car, the Panda is quite successful ‐ it is no way as sluggish as the Seicento or the old Panda. The engine of choice is the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel. It produces 70BHP and manages 70 to 76mpg making it the most powerful and the most efficient engine for the Panda. The petrol engines are not bad either, managing over 50mpg. The Panda is extremely cheap to insure, most modifications coming within the groups 1 to 4.

Like to Drive

Driving quickly in a Panda is a slightly scary experience. Although the engines permit the acceleration to motorway speeds, the car sometimes feels unstable. Another thing to get used to is the high position of the gear lever ‐ it's like sitting in a van, only in a very small one. Once you get used to the amount of roll and the awkward gear switching, you'll start to appreciate the manoeuvrability and ease of parking.

Faults and Repairs

The saving grace of the Panda is that it is so basic; and there's not much that can go wrong simply because many parts are missing by design. Some electric faults have been reported. The radio seems to be turning itself on automatically draining the battery. Squeaky brakes are also quite commonplace.