Fiat Panda TwinAir 85bhp 4×4
What is it?
There aren’t many cars out there that combine compact and trendy city car looks with low C02 emissions/running costs and throw in genuine off-road ability. So the new Fiat Panda 4×4 is a rare beast.
Only just on sale in the UK, this is the third generation Panda 4×4 and it’s a car that’ll appeal to a driver who wants the security and all-weather ability of a 4×4, say for rural driving, but in a convenient, downsized package with associated low running costs.
The key is that ability to deal with slippery or difficult roads, without resorting to a bigger-size SUV and the hefty running costs that go with it. Anyone whose business takes them out into the country, and who needs to get about regardless of the weather conditions should look closer.
Around a seriously demanding off-road course, the little Fiat was astonishingly capable
Fiat is kicking off with two versions of the rugged-looking Panda. The Panda Trekking is the simpler 2WD edition which gets the same raised ride height and looks like the 4×4 but combines front-wheel-drive with a sophisticated traction control system.
The Panda 4×4 takes it a step further with a permanent, fully automatic lightweight all-wheel drive system.
In normal driving conditions the system directs 98 per cent of the drive to the front wheel, which helps economy. But in adverse situations, it can divert up to 50 per cent of the drive to the rear wheels to regain grip and stability.
We’ve tried it….and it works. Around a seriously demanding off-road course, the little Fiat was astonishingly capable, while on the road, it’s sure-footed, comfortable and easy to drive.
Both the Trekking and 4×4 come with two engine choices: 0.9-litre petrol TwinAir or 1.3-litre Multijet diesel. The TwinAir models have a BIK of 12-13%, while for the diesel it’s 15-19% (including the 3% diesel ‘penalty.’).
VED is deliciously low: free in the first year, then £20 for the Trekking and £30-£100 for the two 4×4 models.
We drove the Panda 4×4 TwinAir which has an attractive P11D price of £13,895, punchy 85 bhp at its disposal and EC combined figure of 57.6 mpg.
- The Panda is small car with a small engine (just 875 cc and 2 cylinders), yet it’s an impressive all-round drive and the full-time 4×4 system gives it added stability and traction both on and off-road.
- The lightweight 4×4 system is fully automatic, meaning no driver input is needed.
- For much of the time, the Panda 4×4 drives like a regular front-drive Panda, which means no big increases in tyre wear or fuel consumption to worry about.
- Far more nimble, convenient and eco-friendly on-road than a normal size SUV – and cheaper too. Perfect for “downsizers.”
- Raised body (up 50 mm) gives extra ground clearance.
- With high ground clearance and hi-tech 4×4 system in play, the little Panda 4×4 is truly accomplished off-road. We tried over a treacherous Land-Rover course and it won.
- Low insurance costs – Group 7
- Strong economy – 47.9 mpg (urban); 65.7 mpg (extra urban); 57.6 mpg (combined). Stop/start as standard
- C02 emissions of just 114 g/km.
- Stylish and unique 15-inch alloys, shod with mud and snow tyres.
- Smart body kit upgrade includes black wheel arches and side skirts, 4x x 4 bumpers, black side mouldings.
- Functional and fashionable Panda interior offers multiple seat variations
- Standard kit includes air conditioning, Blue&Me multimedia system, ESP, a CD/MP3 radio, electric heated door mirrors, Mud and Snow tyres, engine Stop/Start…and more
- The distinctively throbby sound of the Fiat’s two-cylinder TwinAir engine will not be for everyone
- Leisurely acceleration: 0-62 mph in a lengthy 12.1 secs
- Like many urban-based 4x4s today, there are no diff locks or low range to help you if you really do get stuck
- Increased weight and price over the standard 2WD Panda.
- In-house competition from the lookalike, cheaper Panda Trekking
Business Car Manager Verdict
Fiat has found its niche with this fun new Panda 4×4.
It’s way more sophisticated than old school mini 4x4s like the Suzuki Jimny, yet smaller and cheaper than the likes of the Skoda Yeti. Throw in city car convenience and size, low costs and all round driver appeal and it’s hard to see how the Panda 4×4 can fail.
It may not be mainstream company car fodder, but if your business takes you out into the country, or if you’re just fed up with getting stuck in the snow, this could be a very cost effective way to solve a problem.
Fiat has cleverly boosted the appeal and all-round ability of the Panda and after the 500, could well have another hit on its hands.
Fiat Panda TwinAir 85 bhp 4×4 – the low down…
|Doors and body style||5-door hatchback|
|Engine/gearbox||0.9-litre 2 cyl petrol/Manual|
…and what it costs
|Monthly business rental (ex VAT)||£213 (3yrs/30,000miles)|
|Road tax band (VED)||C|
|Company Car Tax Bands 2012/13 to 2014/15||13%, 14%, 15%|
|Benefit in kind 2012/13||£1,806|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (20%)||£525|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (40%)||£1050|
|Annual/monthly company car tax (20%)||£361/£30|
|Annual/monthly company car tax (40%)||£723/£60|
|Figures correct at time of posting|
|For latest figures||Use our company car tax calculator|