Fiat Panda Cross Review
First Drive of the Panda Cross
The Fiat Panda is that city car that became versatile thanks to its two-wheel drive Trekking and 4x4 versions. In 2006 they brought out the Cross with more dramatic styling and off-road capabilities to the Panda line-up, and it is this that has now been refreshed.
What is the spec like on the Panda Cross?
Based on the 4x4 the Panda Cross now looks even more rugged with a dominating front bumper that includes a silver skidplate contrasting with bright red tow hooks, protective wheel arch extensions, side mouldings featuring 'Cross' badging, a chrome tail pipe and 15-inch mud and snow tyres. Ground clearance has also been increased if you really do plan on using it to off-road.
The cabin is kept simple, although I wasn’t really enamoured by the copper coloured interior. The dark brown door panels and plastics don’t do it any favours and when the exterior is Tropicalia yellow then it really does all clash.
The Panda is surprisingly spacious and there is plenty of space in the front with seats comfortable and heated. The rear has a bench seat and has sufficient space, but don’t expect to get three adults in the rear.
Smartphone connectivity is via the Fiat Blue&Me Bluetooth system with a USB port, however there is no centre console information screen but there is a satellite navigation dock.
Standard equipment on the Panda Cross includes automatic climate control, heated electric door mirrors, split rear seat with rear head restraints, height-adjustable driver's seat and steering wheel, front fog lights and a leather steering wheel and gear knob.
What’s it like to drive?
The Fiat Panda Cross comes with two engines, the 0.9-litre TwinAir Turbo and the 1.3-litre MultiJet II Turbo-diesel. The TwinAir petrol engine has an extra 5hp and now produces 90hp. It’s a very nifty, capable engine, has a top speed of 104mph and gets from 0-62mph in 12 seconds. The 2 cylinder engine does have quite a distinctive humming noise, which you’ll either love or hate. The combined fuel figure is 57.6mpg and it emits 114g/km, so falls into tax band C and will be exempt for the first year, but just £30 thereafter.
The 4 cylinder 80hp diesel engine has 190 Nm of torque, a top speed of 99mph and can be quite noisy at higher speeds. CO2 emissions are 125g/km placing it into tax band D where it will also be free for the first year, then £110 annually.
You might think that only large off-roaders from the Land Rover and Toyota stables can tackle anything you throw at them, well you might be surprised by the compact Panda Cross...and to prove how capable the car was Fiat let us try out the car on two differing courses, one through the woods and muddy terrain of Cirencester Park and the other at Shorncote Quarry, which provided plenty of water, stones and inclines to tackle.
What makes the Panda Cross so easy to manoeuvre on a mixture of surfaces is the Terrain Control system which has three modes, all changed at the flick of a dial by the handbrake.
Auto mode is for driving on normal roads and uses mostly front-wheel drive, Off-Road is for trickier terrain with all-wheel drive and the Electronic Stability Control system will kick in to transfer away engine torque to the wheels with the most grip. Hill Descent Control will slow the car down when tackling steep and very tricky descents, all the driver needs to do is keep their feet off the pedals and steer. One thing to remember is HDC is deactivated if you stall or apply the handbrake, otherwise you will shoot down a hill at speed.
The Fiat Panda Cross is fun to drive whether it be on open roads or on stoney inclines, the ride is really comfortable due to the suspension, steering is quite light and even though it’s such a small car, you always feel quite safe as you push it to its limits.
Fiat Panda Cross price and verdict
The Fiat Panda Cross is priced from £15,945 for the TwinAir with the diesel an extra £1,000. It might seem high for a car of its size but it does come with a decent array of standard equipment and how many other city cars can you take off-roading? One car, but two different uses; what’s not to like?
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