Fiat’s new Panda Cross may be based on the Panda 4×4 but it’s much more capable. Suzanne Keane was lucky enough to be testing the Panda Cross during one of our recent “cold spells”!
What is it? The Panda Cross is an extremely versatile car – it’s agile and economical around town but with impressive off-roading abilities!
Who is it aimed at? The Panda Cross is aimed at city dwellers with an adventurous streak.
Styling? The Panda’s looks certainly divide opinion – people either stop to point, stare and laugh or else think it’s the coolest/cutest little car they’ve ever seen – especially when it passes them out going up a snowy hill! The model we drove was in Tropicalia Yellow although given a choice I’d have gone with the Cancan Red or Tuscany Green versions! The chunky bumpers, side trims, wheel arch extensions and skid plates protect the bodywork and the exposed towing eyes make sure you’ll never really be stuck!
Under the Bonnet? We drove the 1.3 Multijet 80bhp diesel version which won’t get your heart racing but was well suited to the car albeit a little noisy!
What about inside? The interior is chunky and rugged with a tweed looking finish mixed with brown eco-leather on the seats and a bronzed dashboard. It really does feel like a much bigger 4×4 inside. Orange illumination on the dials is subtle and the steering wheel controls are some of the most user friendly I’ve come across. There isn’t a huge pile of legroom in the back but more than likely if you buy the Panda Cross you’ll be folding down the seats to load in your gear for a weekend adventure and won’t be too worried about rear seat passengers!
On the road? Most of my time spent on the road with the Panda was in freezing temperatures where its capabilities really shone through. No matter how bad the conditions were it didn’t hesitate and even managed a 7am run over the untreated county bounds on the N22 (Killarney-Cork). On paper the Panda Cross is just as impressive – it can handle a gradient of up to 70 degrees and the underbody shields ensure no essential components are damaged.
And Safety? City Brake Control System (€300) operates at speeds up to 30kmph and can apply the brakes if required if it detects obstacles and the driver doesn’t react in time. Side airbags are also a worthwhile optional extra (€250).
Options? Standard equipment includes 4 wheel drive, 3 driving modes (Auto, Off-Road and Hill Descent), 15” alloy wheels in dark metal colour and mud and snow tyres, roof bars, skid plates on front and rear bumpers, red tow hooks, electric mirrors, chrome tail pipe, climate control, adjustable steering wheel and driver’s seat, Bluetooth, mp3 player and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
Optional extras include off-road 15” alloys, rear parking sensors, city brake control, tinted windows and a winter pack which includes a heated windscreen & seats.
Will it break the bank? The Panda Cross starts at €22,745 and the version we drove cost €23,495 with Tropicalia Yellow paint and tinted windows
Economy? The 1.3 diesel consumes 4.7l/100km on a combined cycle
Verdict? I certainly wouldn’t want to be caught out in a snow storm without a Panda Cross!
Why you’ll buy one? Ability off-road mixed with city agility and a 5 year, 100,000km warranty
Why you won’t? Rear legroom
Suzuki SX4 S Cross – priced from €20,995
Dacia Duster – priced from €16,190
Fiat Panda Cross 1.3
Engine: 1248cc 4 in line Multijet Turbo Diesel 80bhp
Max Speed: 159kmph
0-100kmph: 14.3 seconds
Emissions (Motor Tax): 125 g/km (€270/year)
Model Price: €23,495
No of Doors: 5
Euro NCAP: 4 stars
Fuel Type: Diesel
Fuel Economy (combined cycle): 4.7l/km
Boot Capacity Seats up (down) : 225litres (870 litres)
For more information visit the Fiat Ireland website or its Facebook
4th February, 2015