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Old 30th September 2013, 22:58   #1
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Default Fiat Panda 4x4 - Initial Driving Impressions @ Florence

With much speculation, the Fiat Panda seems to be doing rounds in various forum with no clue when the car is going to be launched.

I happen to take a test drive of the car during my visit to Florence, Italy. Thanks to the Multi Brand dealership Brandini for providing me with Fiat Panda and Abarth 500 (review coming soon) for a quick Test drive and review.

Following is the spec of car I drove-

Engine - 0.9 TwinAir Turbo
Max power - 85hp at 5500rpm
Max Torque - 145 Nm at 1900rpm
Transmission - Manual

Please note that this is not an official review and the spec of car meant for India may be completely different. This thread will provide very basic input about the car what I gained in a 20 minutes test drive and 10 minutes photo-shoot.

The shape of this car follows a strict pattern of rounded rectangle something similar to Nissan cube.
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Note the meaty 5 hole alloys with 175/60 R15 wheels.
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Closer look of the alloys
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The rear has a plain design with c pillar mounted tail lights.
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The rear underbelly.
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The multibrand showroom Brandini at Florence. The dealership is huge with almost 15 cars on display from various Fiat owned brands.

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The TwinAir is small yet powerful engine. There is a very less likely chance that we may get this engine here.

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The differentiating factor.

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I took a 15 minutes short test drive on the main street in and around central Florence.
Once you start the engine, you get a very surprising noise especially knowing that this is not a diesel. The engine sounded more like the M-Jet with pretty good amount of clatter. The noise and clatter reduced dramatically after driving the car for 2 kms.

Initially I wasn't aware of Dualdrive power steering which basically gives you option to select between soft and stiff steering for city and highway drives respectively. The steering was extremely soft like that of an i10 or more. Maneuvering the car was a piece of cake mainly due to soft steer and the high gear lever placement like i10. Given the grunt of engine, the car is fun to drive.

It took me 2 minutes to get the basics right before I pushed the gas to check the grunt of TwinAir. Please note that the Turbo grunt of this puny engine can be a real game changer. It may sound like over-exaggeration- the car has a grunt similar to T-Jet or maybe even better.

At traffic signal, the auto start-stop comes into action. Once you press the gas after >30sec stop, the car will crank up.
I could not test the 4 wheel drive option, wholly because I forgot to do so ;-) ..

Coming to the interiors, note that the car is compared to the likes of Skoda Yeti in terms of size and capabilities. In India, the car can be unfairly compared to the Ford Ecosport due to matching dimensions and similar engines.

Boot
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Keeping in mind that the car is mostly meant for city and semi-urban driving, the boot is 225 liters making it almost the best in similar sized cars such as i10.
Here is my Bag (wildcraft trekker) for reference.

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Interiors
Fiat Panda has a slight straight seating stance similar to Yeti. The plastic is notch better than what we get here in top end Linea T-Jet, and there are no uneven panel gaps to complain about.
The round rectangular pattern is followed across the board.

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Have a closer look at the instrument cluster.

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The button that makes the difference.

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Small glovebox meant for putting Gloves quite literally.

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Closer look of the door plastics.

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Closer look of plastics behind the steering.

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Mid variant gets a manual ORVM adjuster

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The front legroom is spacious, the picture you see is with the passenger seat fully pushed behind.

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Stylish Air con vents

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Seat headrest design following the rectangular pattern. Gave a feel of 500 headrest.

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Speedo console

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Front plastic below the windshield (I don't remember the name of this part)
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The rear may get cramped for more than two occupants. Following pic is with passenger seat fully pushed backwards. I personally do not like tall boy designs, note the tall yet narrow rear door. Cramped rear is a major drawback and a let down of this car.
I somehow feel that there is a pattern of Fiat making cramped rear even in sedans. Also note that I hardly saw any car in Italy with rear bench occupied.

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The trip button similar to the ones we have in Punto/Linea

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Seat height adjustment lever for driver.

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I became a fan of hand brake lever design. Wonder why they do not give in all the cars.

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If priced right, the car has a heavy potential for Indian market simply due to its versatility. Panda in the Italy is one of the best selling car and is most famous among city commuters as well as farmers due to high GC and slight off-road capability.

In the UK it is available in TwinTurbo, 1.3 Multijet and 1.2L normally aspirated engines. The TwinTurbo is a highly sensitive engine and thus need a lot modification/tuning to suit the Indian fuel condition.

As far as the vehicle is concerned, my message to Fiat is Price it right, and get all the features including Dualdrive and 4x4 and there will be many takers for this car.
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Last edited by Speed Pujari : 2nd October 2013 at 11:36.
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Old 30th September 2013, 23:18   #2
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Default re: Fiat Panda 4x4 - Initial Driving Impressions @ Florence

Speed Pujari,

Thanks for the detailed quick review I am not sure if it's my system or the mobile andriod app, but I am unable to view any of the attached pics.

-Sajan
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Old 3rd October 2013, 20:08   #3
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Default Re: Fiat Panda 4x4 - Initial Driving Impressions @ Florence

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Test-Drives Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 3rd October 2013, 20:26   #4
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Default Re: Fiat Panda 4x4 - Initial Driving Impressions @ Florence

The design is not easily digestible and with Fiat badge to it, this car will never succeed in India, at least for the coming few years.

If Punto looked like the Ritz with all other Fiat traits intact, I wouldn't have bought the Punto. Fiat is not Maruti to pull off a Ritz!
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Old 3rd October 2013, 22:36   #5
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Default Re: Fiat Panda 4x4 - Initial Driving Impressions @ Florence

This car has the potential to satisfy different audiences: the ones looking for a high GC'd, bad roads commuter and the ones who want a comfortable and affordable 4x4'er.

I'd take these looks over the "fluidic" ones any day.
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Old 4th October 2013, 09:58   #6
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Default Re: Fiat Panda 4x4 - Initial Driving Impressions @ Florence

Thanks for sharing, Panda is indeed a versatile boy. It is just that Fiat India has kept this as finest secret. There was huge potential to be a pioneer in the pseudo-SUV @ Hatch size. A lost opportunity for the sleeping beauty in Fiat India


Quote:
I somehow feel that there is a pattern of Fiat making cramped rear even in sedans. Also note that I hardly saw any car in Italy with rear bench occupied.
very true!! especially for cars having DNA in most of western world. The small cars always meant to be for driver (and occasional passenger), while the rear is extension for the storage aka shopping carrybags on weekends.

This is where Vista and Etios score in India, but again its like home decor from carpenter Vs Designer or age old "Utility Vs Style" argument, no surprise that the Eyesore becoming consistent sales hit
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Old 4th October 2013, 10:16   #7
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Default Re: Fiat Panda 4x4 - Initial Driving Impressions @ Florence

SP, any info on safety aspects? ABS, Airbags, Traction Control, etc.? Also this seems to be AWD when the switch is flipped. No low gear, correct?

Thanks.
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Old 4th October 2013, 10:18   #8
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Default Re: Fiat Panda 4x4 - Initial Driving Impressions @ Florence

To me the car is a looker in its own simple way without being quirky or over the top with the styling. Much better looking than the tall boys sold in India, all of them.
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Old 4th October 2013, 12:51   #9
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Default Re: Fiat Panda 4x4 - Initial Driving Impressions @ Florence

Fiat, no doubt makes one of the finest cars globally, be it the Punto, Linea, Panda, Bravo, etall. But I quite don't understand why they mess up every time in India. Quite sad that brilliant products go down the drain due to high level of negativity around them.
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Old 4th October 2013, 17:01   #10
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Default Re: Fiat Panda 4x4 - Initial Driving Impressions @ Florence

IMO, Fiat should bring this car to India. Once they get the numbers, Fiat needs to increase their offerings and this one would be a great car. Don't know if it will sell or not, considering Fiat's image here.

I guess this is an entry level car in Europe. If Fiat wants to keep it below the Punto, they can easily target the WagonR/ Ritz buyers after removing some equipment.

I would love to get my hands on this one if it ever comes to India.
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Old 14th April 2015, 15:19   #11
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Default Re: Fiat Panda 4x4 - Initial Driving Impressions @ Florence

Quote:
Originally Posted by extreme_torque View Post
To me the car is a looker in its own simple way without being quirky or over the top with the styling. Much better looking than the tall boys sold in India, all of them.
The car shines even more while driving. My wife's colleague had a 2004 Panda which he finally replaced in 2012 with a Mini Cooper. He said he loved the Fiat much more than the Mini .

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheTeacher View Post
SP, any info on safety aspects? ABS, Airbags, Traction Control, etc.? Also this seems to be AWD when the switch is flipped. No low gear, correct?

Thanks.
When I tested the car it had ABS/EBD and Brake Assist. I checked it recently, they have a Trekking trim launched in the UK which is FWD with Traction control. It also comes with 4 Airbags.
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Old 14th April 2015, 17:39   #12
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Default Re: Fiat Panda 4x4 - Initial Driving Impressions @ Florence

Very similar to Honda Element in terms of practicality. These are the type of cars I would want to travel in across the country - and I dont care how it looks!


Last edited by aerohit : 14th April 2015 at 17:41.
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Old 15th April 2015, 13:41   #13
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Smile Re: Fiat Panda 4x4 - Initial Driving Impressions @ Florence

I remember having read a feature in the Top Gear magazine where they had taken this little beast to the top of Mt. Etna, an active volcano in Italy - a task that many SUVs have trouble completing. This is a very quirky yet an equally able and competent vehicle.

I agree that this vehicle wouldn't have succeeded in India. But think about the vast possibilities that this represents! Perhaps someday, we could get this Electronic Differential System in the Punto or the Avventura. And what if we could get it with the upcoming 135 BHP T-Jet? That would give this the perfect combination of scrawn and beauty! The beauty and the beast rolled into one! Sigh. I do wish that happens.

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Old 16th April 2015, 10:23   #14
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Default Re: Fiat Panda 4x4 - Initial Driving Impressions @ Florence

I think Fiat should bring this in as a below-Punto hatch to take on the rest. If they focus on quality interior build and decent engines, it will slowly grow into the market. Fiat can ONLY succeed if they bring their best and best sales performing cars to India. They should also avoid the 1.2 n/a engine from the Punto which is woefully weak. Basically Panda ~85 hp petrol ~75 hp diesel, Punto ~100 hp petrol, ~95 hp diesel and 500 with all four options.

In my opinion, their lineup should be Panda competing with i10 Grand, New Punto competing with Swift and 500 competing with nobody. And yes, the 500 should be priced at the same level as a Swift. Then you will see all the hipsters and 'cool' people flocking to Fiat for something different than mainstream. Surely, this lineup could not do worse than the current sub 1000 monthly sales!

The truth of the Indian market is that if you build a good product, people will eventually realise and buy it. A good product should have no obvious flaws like poor plastics or weird ergonomics.

COME ON FIAT! Time to wake up
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