Drum roll: 4X4 Magazine's Best Mini 4X4 for 2014 is the Fiat Panda 4x4. This workhorse – that performs far beyond its class and price tag – claimed this coveted title after it ploughed through an off-road course that makes more expensive cars beg for mercy. It can therefore conquer slippery tracks, steep slopes and obstacles that require it to lift a wheel more than twelve inches off the ground. To this end, 4x4 Magazine's Editor emphasised that this four-wheel-drive city car can charge “over and through” significant obstacles. The test drivers, in fact, were so impressed by this “infectiously cute” and “ridiculously capable” fashion statement that it “so nearly” took overall victory at this year's awards. The Fiat Panda 4x4 - another drum roll please - also took Top Gear's SUV of the Year title for 2012. Here the experts praised its “ride, comfort and off-road ability” and favoured it over “far more expensive” competitors. The judging panel – once their ears had stopped ringing from all those drum rolls - added that the vehicle's “traction on slopes is remarkable” thanks in part to the “clever electronic traction system, ample ground clearance, and a low first gear”. It is helped further by the special mud/snow tyres.
New Fiat Panda 4x4 Review
At the Fiat Panda 4x4's core is the on-demand four-wheel drive system that incorporates two differentials and an electronically operated coupling. These are governed by a control unit that transfers power between the front and rear axle according to which wheels have traction. Power comes from either a 0.9-litre 85bhp petrol engine or a 1.2-litre 75bhp diesel. The Panda also has an electronic locking differential that brakes specific wheels if they struggle for traction then transfers the engine power elsewhere. This workhorse excels in the city too. As such its steering is precise and reasonably light, the ride is comfortable and the manual transmission is a pleasure to use. Furthermore, the electronics that help off-road are invaluable in the city when the road is wet, etc. These strengths complement the fantastic styling. This award winning four-wheel-drive also has a spacious cabin and class-competitive 225-litre boot that make it practical for everyday tasks. The latter can be increased to 870-litres by folding the rear seats flat into the stylish cabin. Standard equipment includes: air-conditioning, electric mirrors, power windows and Bluetooth which – combined with the off-road electronics – ensure it has a pleasing specification. All from £13,995 for the petrol and £14,995 for the diesel. Put down that drum.