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Fiat Panda Multijet – A Perfect Off-roader

| 22 Jan 2013 | No Comments

The new Fiat Panda has arrived on British roads, and to drive this four-wheeler is an experience in itself. The car is special because it doesn’t cease to astound when it comes to its off-road competence.

We would neither call it the most sophisticated vehicle around, nor sing praises for its driving experience on the roads in UK; but we must say that the inclusion of four-wheel drive ensures that this Panda turns out to be a great off-roader. Considering its impressive off-road credentials, let’s find out how this 4x4 feels to drive on regular British roads.

Engine and Performance

Fiat Panda 4x4 comes with two engine options, the 1.3 litre 4-cyl MultiJet Turbo diesel and a 0.9 litre TwinAir; the car maker expects the sales split to be halved between these two. Speaking about the former, though a little noisy, both at the time of picking up and accelerating to high speeds, it does feel sluggish compared to the latter.

With a power output of 75bhp, it goes from 0-62mph in 14.5 seconds, as against the TwinAir’s 12.1. It is engineered with 5-speed manual gear apparatus, touches a top speed of 99mph, delivers a fuel economy of 60.1mpg and emits CO2 at the rate of 125g/km.

Appearance and Interiors

This car has a distinctive plastic cladding that imparts it a rough and tough look. This addition to the Fiat Panda 4x4 MultiJet version has more than aesthetic implications though. The sturdy bumpers aid protecting the overhangs at the front and the back, and the 15-inch alloys are pre-fitted with regular-fit winter tyres, suitable for snow.

Interiors are similar in appearance to the standard Panda model. This 4x4, however, is designed with a higher centre console to include a 15th storage section. The equipment kit is the same as in top-of-the-range Lounge Trim; the car gets stability control, stop-start feature, steering wheel controls, front electric windows, an MP3 CD player and a USB-compatible Blue&Me connection.

Driving Experience

This Panda is an ordinary car to drive, and has a light steering, ideal for tight situations. The additional suspension helps the car soak up larger road depressions and bumps. However, the 4x4 does feel slightly unsettled over continuously rough surfaces. The chunky steering wheel and gear knob, both impart a sturdy feel.

Though Fiat’s Panda 4x4 models are hardly expected to traverse through a wet ground, let alone a really tough off-road terrain, this is the area where this Fiat actually stands out. It proves its worth as a genuinely efficient SUV and doesn’t let you down even once, while travelling under such conditions.

All said and done, the biggest concern with the Fiat Panda 4x4 MultiJet is its £14,950 price tag, making it expensive compared to most other small SUVs in its class. The Dacia Duster Ambience model with a four-wheel drive is priced at £13,495. However, if four-wheel drive is not what you are looking for, and you can’t resist Panda’s charm, then Panda Trekking at a £2,000 less is the perfect option for your needs.

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